This Mother’s Day is extra special because it’s also my 40th birthday. I’m assuming today’s going to be perfect — but if not, I’ll hold a grudge against my family for the rest of their lives. I want presents, nice behavior and a decent meal, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
I spent 40 years climbing up this hill, and I want to begin my descent down the other side drinking mimosas and eating chocolate. Actually — scratch that — orange juice and chocolate taste weird together. Is it too late to order omelets?
The first time I heard the expression “over the hill,” I was 8 years old and playing four square with my best friend at recess. “Last night I helped blow up black balloons for my dad’s 40th birthday party,” Amber said.
I passed Amber the cherry ball. “Wow. You’re dad’s ancient.”
“Yup,” my BFF answered. “He’s over the hill.”
Now my daughter’s the one in third grade. I didn’t ask her to blow up balloons (she has asthma), but I know she’s been busy with a DIY present that will impress me.
My seventh grader isn’t nearly as handy with glue sticks and glitter, so I gave him specific instructions. If all goes as planned, he’s arranged to have “Happy 40th Birthday Jennifer Bardsley” placed on the Edmonds Theater marquee on Main Street. This is primarily to make up for him giving me a bag of M&M’s for Christmas.
— Jennifer Bardsley (@JennBardsley) May 14, 2018
As for my husband, he gets the joyous task of driving all four of us to Deception Pass in our/my tent trailer, so that we can enjoy Sunday brunch in nature, and make it extra difficult for our children to do the dishes.
Some people buy a sports car or dye their hair when they turn 40, I just make my family’s life more complicated.
But birthdays are complicated. They’re messy and glittery and could pop like balloons at any moment. Mother’s Day is like this, too. Either it’s a special event worthy of the marquee, or it’s a chocolate-mixed-with-orange-juice grudge to harbor for years.
Age should bring wisdom, and wisdom should mean that I have the good sense to view today as any other day — Mother’s Day or not. A 40th birthday shouldn’t be more significant than a 39th birthday or a 41st. But that’s not how it works.
Special birthdays don’t happen often. Turning 1, or 16, or 21, or 40; the milestones stretch out like a greeting card aisle at the Hallmark store. The birthdays implore us to pause by each section and take stock.
Forty means being thankful for every day I wore sunscreen. It means realizing that the dress I buy now might still be in my closet when I’m 50. Forty turns the front of my hair gray and shrinks my computer screen. Forty means not worrying so much about what other people think.
There won’t ever be a Mother’s Day exactly like this one. Pass me a mimosa, please, and be generous with the champagne. Middle age has struck.
Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.