Don't get me wrong — my 20s were great. Graduating from college, moving to a new city, the excitement of a new career . . . I was a fresh little lamb timidly entering the big new world. A fresh little lamb who could pound tequila and do back spins like it was her job.
My 30s have been a time of recovery, discovery, and straight thuggery. Although my 40th birthday party will probably end with me going to bed at a reasonable hour, taking my calcium chew, and watching The Golden Girls, it's going to be a party of epic proportions, and here's why:
I can afford a party.
My 30th birthday involved a trip to the county fair with 16 of my closest friends crammed into the back of a seatless minivan. When we approached the gate, we threw a blanket over ourselves to avoid the cover charge. My 40th will be at a bowling alley, but we'll have an open bar with an all-you-can-eat Taco Bell and White Castle buffet. Because you can take the girl out of the trailer park but . . .
My forever husband will be there.
My 20s were a steep learning curve when it came to relationships, and I slid right off that curve, down the aisle, and into a pit of badness. I won't embarrass "anyone" with the gory details, but let me just tell you what a relief it will be to celebrate an event with a husband who won't ditch me in favor of blowing our life savings trolling strip clubs.
My forever friends will be there.
Every year I tuck under my belt I have less tolerance for assholes. I've had to do some serious weeding, and — in the interest of full disclosure — that culling has gone both ways. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing friends, and let me assure you they have earned their ticket on the Friendship Express the hard way.
They've seen me every which way — crying when I tried forever and a day to get pregnant, and then again when I found out I was pregnant with our third only five months after bringing her sister home from the hospital where our 1-year-old was waiting for us. Text messages from me range from "Does this nipple look normal" to "I think something just fell out of my butt." I figure if they've made it with me this far, they're here to stay.
My kids will be there (in spirit).
When I think back to my life before kids, it's like something huge was missing from my very soul and I didn't even realize it. They're the most awesome parts of my husband and me but a million times better. They bring a joy to my life I didn't even know was possible. But I'm totally getting a sitter for the night because they can be real turds at parties.
I'll be there.
The past 10 years have been a long, winding road, and I've spent some serious time figuring out who I am. Learning how to like that person was another whole deal, and I'm still working on the not caring when others don't part. I have a stack of personal development books a mile high on my nightstand, tapping into the spiritual brilliance of everyone from the Dalai Lama to Chelsea Handler. I'm a work in progress, still figuring out how to be my best self, but what I know so far is that best self involves therapy, medication, estrogen patches, and wine.
You'll be there.
If you were to ask my 12-year-old self to describe my dream job, I would have taken out a pad of paper and a pen and written until I made you laugh. Like many people in their 40s, I have had a lot of stops and starts in my career but have finally figured out how to make a living doing what I love. Virtually inviting complete strangers into my family and life events (like my birthday party) is unbelievably scary, but the support and love I've received over the past few years has been mind blowing.
But seriously, if you want to come to my party just send me a PM. I promise we'll have more than enough belly bombers to go around.
Hannah Mayer is a nationally award-winning blogger, humor columnist and exponentially blessed wife and mother of three. She would trade everything for twelve uninterrupted hours in a room with Jon Hamm and two Ambien. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter or at her blog, sKIDmarks.