This morning in the shower I thought about turning 40, because my dear friend Bon has a birthday today. And also because a girl I went to high school with died last week after a short illness, and I hadn’t seen her since graduation. In my head she was still eighteen, a badass who didn’t much care about school but had a keen sense of the ridiculous. I logged onto Facebook and there was the notice of her memorial service and suddenly sixteen years passed in the space between heartbeats.
A new baby gives you time to think. Maybe more time than you want, if things aren’t going well. Even the very best newborns won’t sleep more than three hours at a stretch. Baby G goes to sleep around 8pm or so, and I take that two-hour block to tidy up, to fold laundry and pack lunches and watch TV and browse through the internet. He gets up again between 10 and 11; I nurse him while chatting with hubby or watching the news.
Sometime between 2 and 3 he gets up again, and that feeding is the eerie one, the one that feels as if he and I are the only two people on earth. I keep the lights dim so as not to wake us. We sit in the living room because he doesn’t like to nurse if I’m lying down, and outside the big window the streetlight shines on the empty road. Even the pets are sleeping. Part of me just wants to be in bed, but a larger part is at peace with this baby, peace in a way I never had with the other two, and maybe it’s fleeting and in a month I’ll be a sleep-deprived mess but for right now, I actually find myself almost enjoying the middle-of-the-night interlude.
I won’t be 40 for another six years.
In six years, Baby G will be the same age that Harry is now. Gap-toothed smile, reading chapter books, picking up the rental DVD of “Thor” and asking how it was only to have me realize that he could have watched it with us, that he doesn’t need to be protected so much anymore.
In six years I’ll have one kid in middle school and two in elementary. I won’t have the dayhome anymore. I don’t know what I’ll be doing instead.
In six years we’ll only have six years to go on our mortgage.
When I was in my 20s, turning 40 was something that happened to other people. Hell, the year I turned 20 my mother turned 40. Forty is a mom age. Although I’m a mom of three it’s taken some time to be comfortable with that identity. In my head it’s not only my high school classmates who are still 18, it’s me. I would dye my hair purple right now if you presented me with an hour-long block of time to do it in. I still don’t moisturize because that’s something for grown-ups (and my skin is starting to tell the tale, sadly).
In six years, my skin may look like a handbag.
And so while I nurse, I think. I think about where I’m going, what I want for my kids, if we will plant a garden this summer, if we should try camping for more than one night at a time. I realize that for maybe the first time in my life there isn’t anything I’m missing. I listen to Baby hum while he drinks and I feel blessed.