This post was most recently updated on September 23rd, 2019
I generally like having birthdays.
I’ve never been one of those “oh please don’t make a big deal about it” kinda girls. I’m not gonna lie, I like me some ice cream cake from Dairy Queen with the crunchy chocolate filling. Oooh, and, cards from friends and family, and presents wrapped in pretty ribbon. Yup, as long as there’s cake and cards and friends and presents, I don’t care much about the number of candles.
But, I knew my latest birthday was going to be different when, a few days prior, the kid in the Second Cup drive thru window passed me my coffee and said…and I quote…
Poor guy. If only he knew the things I called him as I pulled away.
I know I really shouldn’t have been so surprised. I haven’t been ID’ed at a bar in almost a decade. (Thumbs down!) I might still feel like I’m 19, but even I can admit that I probably don’t look the part. I’m thinkin’ the mini-van and the emerging crow’s feet were the clinchers ;-)? Still, his comment was like pouring salt on an open wound. The idea of turning 39 had been quietly knawing at me for weeks. But, there’s nothing quite like being called “Ma’am” by a 17-year old to get the Pity Party started.
A lot’s been written about turning 40. But, for the life of me, I’m not sure why there’s not more written about the experience of turning 39. Even a support group would do ;-). After all, 39’s the last birthday you’ll ever have in your 30s. Certainly, that must be cause for some amount of psychological crisis, right?
I loved my 30s. Turning 30 wasn’t at all a biggie for me. I embraced it. At 31, I had our first child. At 32, I spent one glorious year at home with her. At 33, I went back to my decade-long marketing career. At 34, we built our new home. Somewhere in there, I’m sure I turned 35, but it slipped by, happily unnoticed. At 36, we had twin boys and our daughter started Kindergarten. At 37, I was a sleep-deprived, diaper-changing ninja. And, at 38, I came up for air long enough to start this website.
And WHAM, out of the blue: along comes 39!
The thing about 39 is that it’s a creeper.
39 is a slimy little monster that creeps up behind you, taps you on your left shoulder, and shouts “Boo!” in your face.
At least 40 announces itself. Months in advance, 40 puts you on notice: “I’m coming for you!” So when it arrives, you’re ready for it. You’ve consulted with ‘The 40 Year Olds’, aka, a crew friends who’ve already turned 40. You’ve read all about how “40 is the new 30” – all written by 40 year-olds btw…just sayin’. You’ve drank the Kool-Aid. So, when 40 comes, you welcome it with open arms, exclaiming all kinds of crazy things on Facebook like “40 is awesome!”, or my personal favorite: “Forty and Fabulous!”.
But 39?!? Think about it: when have you ever heard anybody say “39 is awesome”? Or “39 is fabulous?” Never, I tell ya, that’s when!
Logically, I know that every birthday’s a gift. (Believe me, I truly do.) And, don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for all that I have. How can I complain when my birthday included a hubby-planned spa visit, two toddlers holding a bunch of over-sized helium balloons, and a daughter with home-made cards? Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than that.
So, I’m sure I’ll settle into 39 just nicely. But right now, I’m inclined to say that turning 39 is a stinker; ya know, just as birthdays go.
So have you turned 39 yet? How’d you feel about it?
Was turning 40 any better? Please lie, and say yes. 🙂
Until next time,
I have to disagree on the “ma’am” part. Granted, I’m still a young adult, however, I’m from down south. I call everyone ma’am and sir! Actually, if I didn’t hear someone, I don’t say “what?”, I say “ma’am?” or “sir?”. So, if it helps any, imagine that said teenager moved to where you all are from down south. It’s a culture thing, a sign of respect, down here.
That said, congrats on 39! Happy birthday!
I’ve heard similar comments from others from the South! Its definitely a culture difference. Here, when you’re referred to as “ma’am”, it’s still a respect thing; but, mostly because the person sees you as an ‘older’ person (older than them, anyway), or because you have some authority, e.g., teachers are referred to as “ma’am” a lot. Thanks for the birthday wishes! ~Kerri
It’s not always an age thing! I actually work at a fast food restaurant for my job and it’s common to reply to everyone (even high schoolers) as ma’am and sir when you’re helping them. It’s kind of like using…well, what else can one say? Miss, maybe? I can’t even think of an alternative for sir. Ha, I’ve been so well trained I can’t even think of alternatives! When I go to restaurants, I get “ma’am” all the time and let me tell you, I am still mistaken for a highschool freshman (and I’ve graduated high school!).
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Happy Birthday to you!! I’ll join your “support group”…I turned 39 in December…kind f a weird feeling isn’t it?? But life is good 🙂 Chat soon, laurel
Ha Laurel! Didn’t realize we were the same age! Yes, please do join my support group, lol. Thanks for the b-day wishes! ~Kerri
I myself am turning 43 this year, and have found that the ride only gets better as you go along. Its enjoying your life day by day that makes it worth while, and as the years drift by I find myself growing more excited, rather than depressed.
Stepping into my thirties was like a breath of fresh air, but then, that is probably because along with my twenties I was also leaving an abusive marriage. The thirties were a joy and fairly zipped by, and 39 didn’t even give me pause. 40 came and went and I am still moving on, looking forward to the joys still to come. I now have silver streaks at my temples, but it adds a touch of dignity I think. Thankfully, being a bit overweight means that any crows and wrinkles that adorn my younger brother’s face are absent on mine! I have been called ma’am since my twenties and thought I had my peace with it, until I married a Texan, and now I have come to adore it, as when he says it its with such love and respect that my heart can’t help but melt.
As for feeling like an adult… back when I was 32 I consulted both my grandmother and my father about when they finally started feeling like an adult. To my amazement, neither one of them did even though, by that time my father was in his fifties and my grandmother was sliding into her 80s. I guess we never feel really grown up like we imagined we would when we were children. My grandmother felt like a young girl up until the very end, which is exactly the way I plan to go. Not hanging onto youth, as too many people do in vain, but not throwing it away either.
Hang in there…. 39 is not the terror lurking in the night that you imagine it to be. Step into it, and then ignore it. Just keep enjoying life day by day…. after all, 39 is just another number that really doesn’t mean anything in the end.
Thanks so much, Shawna, for leaving such a beautiful comment. I appreciate your words very much, and love the wisdom in it. This is the first birthday when I’ve actually taken notice of ‘the number’, but I’m sure I will embrace 39 eventually, just like any other. ~All the best, Kerri
I love love love this post. First off, we had our kids (yes, older daughter and twin boys) at almost the exact same ages, AND I am turning 39 in a matter of weeks. I am also a little freaked out about it, which I didn’t think I would be. After all, I still have one whole year before turning 40! Which means you are totally right — it is a creeper…
Yup, it’s a creeper, alright. Our lives seem like mirror images in a lot of ways, don’t they?!? From time to time, I still find myself laughing out loud about your post on managing twins and a grade schooler! Thanks for coming by, Shannon. ~Kerri
I am older than you, however I hate when someone calls me maam. Guess I have entered into the world of maamsville!!!
And, a big thumbs down to that!! 😉 ~Kerri