On Turning 40


I love birthdays and not just mine. I love all birthdays.

It’s that one day made just for you. I love baking cakes illuminated with a copious amount of candles for friends and family. I love blowing out my own candles and making some youthful wish, like a 9-year-old, and believing it will come true. I know it sounds silly but I love all the little things associated with birthdays. I love these little things because they can make someone feel special.

When a monumental birthday comes along, I want the celebrations to be just as significant. For example, I traveled to Chicago to surprise my youngest brother for his 16th birthday. I took my sister for a weekend getaway for her 21st Birthday. For my own 30th birthday, I took myself for a week backpacking trip through Glacier National Park.

Now, I sit just days away from my 40th birthday and am beyond pumped. The only difference is, as a parent, as fabulous as my husband is at making the day special, often birthdays are easily as routine and overworked as the other 364 days of the year. That might be why I feel a celebration for my 40th is so important.  I don’t want a monumental birthday, like my 40th or my husband’s 40th, to come and go without taking the time and energy to recognize the significance of all we’ve accomplished and highlight all our goals and dreams.

So, my husband and I agreed that we’d give each other a year-long celebration: one race or big event (bike/run/triathalon) per month for the 12 months following our birthdays.

My husband and I are passionate outdoor adventure enthusiasts.  When I introduced this idea to my husband, he was all in. It’s our way of making ourselves a priority again.  We’ve spent the last 4 years drowning in children and everything that is important in their lives. Gleefully and happily (most of the time).  Let’s be honest. It gets tough.

For myself, it has been all to easy to willfully give up all of my own personal goals as I work tirelessly to make sure my children have me there when they need me. I found as soon as my first was born my priorities shifted away from self  and all toward my kids. This is what we parents do, right?

Sometimes, this sacrifice seems like I’m doing the most important things possible as I see my kids flourish. Yet, there are other days where I feel myself suffocating under the pressure I put on myself to be the parent I think I need to be. Because somewhere along the line of raising children I determined this particular philosophy  I adopted was what was right for my family. Before I know it, I am depleted.  I need to find balance and meet some of my own needs again. I need to once again find space to make myself the subject of this phrase I use often with my kids: “Everyone in this house has needs. Right now we are meeting ____’s needs.”

Often I find I’m meeting everyone else’s needs and throwing my needs aside. I think I’m finally realizing just how unhealthy this is for myself and my family.

My husband does exactly the same. I see him sacrifice his needs to meet the needs of the family. But this year we are shifting our focus back towards balance. Our priorities are still our family but we realize that in order to be the parent we want to be we need to also take care of ourselves.

What better way to solidify our commitment to ourselves than to sign up for a race every month in which we need to train and what better time than for our 40th birthdays.

What are some other significant ways to celebrate birthdays?  Do you love or dread birthdays?



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