My mother used to have a red and white picnic-checked potholder hanging in the kitchen over the monolith of a microwave that read, “I’d rather be 40 than pregnant!”
I didn’t get it.
At 14 years old, both of those things seemed to be equally as horrifying in my adolescent mind.
Fast forward a couple of decades and four pregnancies later, and I think I’m being let in on the joke.
When I first read that potholder, I figured on the morning I turned 40, I’d wake up in a spiraling pit of depression. Or wrinkle beyond recognition. Or at the very least, something would fall off. I’d get a craving to eat dinner at 3:00 in the afternoon and listen to the oldies station on the radio.
What I failed to take into account -- and a big difference between 14 and 40 -- is that by this great big birthday, I would be in the throes of motherhood, and perspectives certainly change here.
Those pregnancies that preceded this birthday produced four beautiful, healthy children that I love beyond words, and being in this moment with them is my greatest joy. And while I’m sure the potholder-author’s original intent was to make a bad joke rather than suggest an introspective philosophy on aging, for me there is a deeper meaning of this gag gift. Now that I’m here, I realize that after our skin gets stretched out from childbearing and wrinkles a little on the edges, it’s now when we at last become the most comfortable in it.
I may be a little grayer and not carded nearly as often, but that only delays the purchase of champagne to toast a very full life of many blessings anyway.
So throw me what you’ve got, Forty -- I’m ready.
I’ve got an oven mitt with your name on it.
(Cross-posted on Whoa Momma.)