If you’d ever asked my kids, or many of those I’m close with, they’d know that I’ve always looked forward to turning 42.
I had babies when I was young. I was 21. They’re not twins, but I’d not had a birthday between their births. Consequently, I spent my 20’s being a mom. Most of that time I was a single mom. My friends stayed out late and went to parties and did normal 20’s things. I did them as well – but I had responsibility they didn’t have. I went home earlier. I got up earlier. I had to think about school districts and diapers and doctors and whatnot. My 20s were modified.
But when I turned 42? That was going to be amazing. That was going to be the sweetest part of my life. Both my girls would be 21 and mostly done with college. I’d be at the top of my earning potential. My time would become my own again as they spread their wings and left my home in search of their own. At 42 I was going to watch them soar and become what I didn’t and do what I couldn’t.
42 was going to be the year my life picked up some charm.
I am 40 now. The reality of my life is so, so much more harsh than the vision.
Alex will be 20 on Saturday. She has both mental illness and autism that she (we) struggle with. She’s not like other kids her age. She doesn’t do what others do. She’s got dreams and plans, but for her they’re harder to achieve. She manages her life slowly and with medication. She’ll achieve what she wants, but her timetable is delayed. She can’t be away from home for more than 3 days. She’s easily agitated. She does not drive. Her life has been neither painless nor charmed. It’s easy to judge her when the facts aren’t laid out. She is poetry.
Long ago, I adjusted that part of my life plan for 42. Alex would not be where other people at 21 are in their lives. And that was okay. We’ve known her life wasn’t going to be straightforward since she was in 5th grade and we figured some things out.
Z’s life was right on track. When I was 42, she’d be 20 (would turn 21 three weeks before I turned 43). She would be in nursing school. She’d would be hell-bent on making things go her way. She’d argue her way into or out of whatever she needed or wanted. She was always prose.
I am 40 now. I lost Z when I was 40 and she was 18. I lost Joe when I was 33 and he was 39. And the closer I get to 42, the further away I’ll be from her and from him. I will get older and she will be 18 and he will be 39. I’ll be 42 and she’ll be 18 and he will be 39. I’ll be 60 and she’ll be 18 and he will be 39. I’ll have birthdays and she won’t and he won’t and I will always be moving forward and they have both stopped moving with me.
42 will be a much different operation. I don’t know how I’ll handle my life between now and then. Because I don’t want to age anymore. I don’t want to be that far away from them and the life I planned.
I am 40 now. I’ve lost my husband. I’ve lost my younger daughter. My older daughter is on a modified timeline and looking at 42 is now so… I don’t know. I don’t know what it is but I am not okay with these alterations.
I am 40 now. Tomorrow I will be 41.