The weeks leading up to 40 were filled with dread and trepidation. I thought I would feel different and alarm would set in, but somehow I felt exactly the same on my birthday, as I did the day before. I thought I would have to immediately give up my childish ways, but my friends who are already in what they call Club 40, say they are just as childish and it’s makes me feel so much better. I thought it was because I didn’t have kids, but my friends with kids admitted to bouts of childishness and feelings of imperfection too.
Maybe I should say child-like instead of childish, as childlike has a more positive quality about it. Whatever the label, what it means to me is that we look at the world with fresh wonder and see the joy in the littlest of things. Children tend to smile and laugh a lot more than adults, so that’s another great thing about letting your inner child out to play.
We just don’t play enough and are filled with guilt every time we do. A child never feels guilty about playing. To an adult playing could include just relaxing with a book and coffee – anything you think is fun to do. Often we feel guilty with these little indulgences and are not able to let go and enjoy the moment as our minds are filled with all the nagging tasks we haven’t done. Often though, the book is so good that there are those moments you get so absorbed in them, it feels like you’ve entered a new world, just like you did as a child reading an Enid Blyton fantasy.
So 40 feels about the same as 39, and in spite of all the adult worries and guilt trips (that I often give myself), my inner child hasn’t been completely banished – thank goodness.
What really prompted me to write this was memory of my cousin who left this world recently and never made it to 40 like I did. He makes me feel like reaching an age milestone is a privilege. He had this amazing childlike quality that made everyone love him. Like a child, he never got angry, which was an amazing quality that drew everyone to him. And never in his life did he ever give me a guilt trip. He only made me feel joy and even remembering the jokes he used to play, makes me feel like he was truly the embodiment of sunshine.
I had this weird notion that a woman in her fourties didn’t smile as much or giggle and that it just wasn’t elegant. Now that 40 has settled in, all I can think was, boy was I wrong! So here’s to not holding back on our smiles.