By Susan Hartley
January 9, 2014
Musings of a New 40-Year-Old
By Holly McElwee
I’ve been reflective lately, the result of a recently celebrated milestone birthday. Yes, the big 4-0. I don’t feel sad about this birthday, but it’s prompted me to consider my years in the adult world. Here’s what I “get” at age 40 that I couldn’t even begin to understand at age 20.
Raising kids is hard work. Oh my goodness, no one can express to new parents how difficult it is to raise a child. My husband and I learned it from the beginning when our oldest daughter decided to arrive six weeks early. Our visions of driving home from the hospital with a lovely cherubic newborn were dashed when we were told she needed to go to the NICU at Dayton Children’s. I remember crying all the way to Children’s, sobbing, “It wasn’t supposed to be like this!” Welcome to parenthood. For over 13 years now, we’ve worked hard at raising our girls to be responsible, respectful, hard-working, and independent. We often fall on our faces, but in the end, I know it’s worth the effort.
A good husband is a gift. I was barely 22 when I got married, fresh out of college and ready to start a new chapter in life. I am so thankful for my husband who’s patient, kind, fun, and willing to follow me on a myriad of adventures. True love doesn’t always mean whirlwind romance and flowers every day. For me, it means consistency, devotion, and being willing to slog through the rough times. I have been blessed, and I’m looking forward to the next 50 or so years together. (I’m sure we’ll both live well into our golden years!)
Live life out loud. I know, that sounds cliché, but for me it means putting my feet to the pavement and walking towards a goal. Whether it’s employment, travel, schooling, or writing a book, I’ve learned to take risks and put myself out there. It’s never too late, either. My 40-year-old self is traveling to South America again this year. 20 years ago I never would’ve imagined even one trip south of the Equator, let alone three. One thing I’ve definitely learned; nothing will happen if I don’t start by walking out my front door.
My faith in God sustains me. My parents took me to church every Sunday, and I learned how to live a life in Christ. It wasn’t until my adult years, however, that I saw why it was so important for daily living. The child in me understood the basics of it, but the adult in me realizes that without my faith, I live a miserable life, indeed.
A new year has just begun. No matter what age you are, I urge you to spend some time reflecting on the last 20 years. Big or small, the changes you’ve sustained have shaped you. Isn’t it refreshing to know that we don’t stay the same, but we bloom and grow? How have you grown in 20 years’ time?
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