This past weekend marked my 40th birthday. I normally don’t get sanguine for such events, but I think it’s fairly natural to do a little bit of thinking and reflection during what normally is a “milestone” birthday. (Okay, I’m guilty for overthinking things normally. but I have to stay true to myself, no?)
I went back and was reading some things I wrote around my 30th birthday (specifically this one post) and it really is stunning to me how different my life is now compared to then. In many ways the pendulum has swung to the other extreme: where work was my priority when I was turning 30, work takes so much more of a backseat to the rest of my life. I was still working for others then, whereas in the interim time I quit, traveled, worked briefly for two others, then started my own thing. My life is so full of my family. and the necessary changes that you need to make in terms of priority and outlook. I remember before getting married that I had strong image of a ranger in the old west, hanging up the saddle on a life predicating on always looking over the horizon as to what was over that next hill and picking up a shovel to establish his homestead. The adventure being in watching something grow as opposed as to wondering what was coming next. I couldn’t imagine making that change ; Now I cannot imagine changing back. Not that one life is better than the other, but more of a case of everything having its own time.
There’s a NY times article on being in your 40’s that’s making the rounds, and it resonates strongly within me. I love where I am right now. Am I somewhat unchallenged with work? Surely. While I’ve been on my own for 8 years, I’ve been essentially doing the same sort of work (with a sizeable break, to be sure) for almost 14 years. And I don’t mean technology consulting (that’s almost 20 years) but specifically this set of clients and this particular implementation. But on the other hand, its familiar and allows me to be home at a time with my kids that frankly most fathers miss. And we can therefore not rely on daycare and tag team the childcare in a way that can be very satisfying (if tiring). I have changes that I need to make, mostly in how I take care of myself physically. I wax and wane on it, but I need to commit to it. And that’s one of the main differences between the 30 year old me and the now me. I talked about feeling as if life was more like a pinball game, but that belies the feeling of not being in control. I *can* do more than just bump the table. While I have many more responsibilities, there’s a particular freedom knowing that I really *am* in control of a lot more than I am aware of. Even if it’s just how I react and what I choose to engage in.
Excited for this weekend – J. and I are spending two nights in the city. We’ve done overnights for my birthday a few times in the last few years, but this is the first time we’re doing two. We both really need a chance to darken the fading lines that define our identity other than Mama and Daddy. Now that the kids are getting older and our parents are retiring to give us the chance to do this kind of thing. We also have reservations to Komi! (Funny story, more on that at some point…)