F#*cking 40

Turning 40 has loomed over me all year.  Why this milestone is heaver than any other has me contemplating the reasons. Ruminating on a loop in my mind is the Kid Rock song, “F#*king 40”.  If you haven’t heard it, it’s worth finding on Youtube, the lyrics are hysterical!

When the great poet Kid Rock looks back on his last forty years he regrets “I never dated with Wynonna Rider, I probably never will, I guess I’m f#*king 40 . . . the kids call me old man, I need glasses, Alka-Seltzer and a f#*king prostrate exam . . . “

As I turn 40, there is part of me that identifies with this cynical viewpoint.  Not everything in my life went exactly as planned.  I’ve got a divorce and a failed business under my belt. None of my kids have happily married biological parents.  My imperfect body carries the scars of the past 40 years.

When I was a kid, planning who I wanted to be when I grew up, I have to admit, these are not the things I fantasized about.

Despite this, I am more excited for this birthday than any before it.  Even turning 17 and getting my driver’s license, or 21 when I finally got to throw out my fake ID, don’t compare to the excitement of turning 40.

Why would anyone be excited to reach middle age you ask?  Because I have finally reached my prime, that’s why!  Never again will I have to wait tables to make ends meet, or worry about getting pregnant, or be told that I’m too young to be taken seriously. I have reached a spectacular point in my life where I am successful enough that I don’t have to stress all the time about money, but young enough to enjoy it!

I wrote down goals for myself when I was pregnant with my son 12 years ago.  It seemed like far-fetched fantasy then, but just like magic, 90% of those things I dreamed about have now come to fruition.

I have built three thriving businesses that give my family security and freedom.  The sense of stability, safety and pride that comes from being an entrepreneur is astounding.  I’m grateful every day that I don’t rely on someone else for a paycheck. My time is flexible, I control my own income and I make money when I’m asleep!

I have become a biological, step and adoptive mother.  In those youthful fantasies about staying married to one person forever, what I didn’t realize is that a happily-ever-after marriage would have robbed me of the opportunity to be a stepmom and an adoptive mom.  The crazy, winding path that led me here to my family had some bumps, but it was sure worth it!  I have an amazing partner who is my best friend and an awesome co-parent.  My kids are all loved by bonus parents and extra siblings.  I pretty much hit the jackpot getting a large family that I didn’t have to give birth to, pregnancy really wasn’t my thing.

At 40 I’m finally finished changing diapers and pushing strollers and shoveling baby food into drooling mouths.  My kids are now old enough to be fun to hang out with.  They love camping and hiking and helping me cook.  They are becoming awesome people with their own unique personalities.  Watching them find their way to the adults they will soon become is such a rewarding gift. I could have never anticipated how much I would love raising my kids.

My home is amazing.  I have the hobby farm I always wanted, complete with horses, chickens, pigs and dogs.  We even have an emu.  My kids have watched baby goats being born.  They have watched baby chicks hatch from eggs.  They catch frogs, and can ride horses any time they want.  We have a pool and fruit trees and nice cars.  Our nanny is like family, we have an amazing network of great friends, and a supportive extended family.  I am living the American Dream and I am grateful every day for how good life is.

And best of all, I can travel any time I want.  I take trips with my friends, I take trips with my partner, I take trips with my kids. I plan vacations when I’m on vacation, and I sure as hell couldn’t do that when I was 30!  I’m celebrating turning 40 by taking the whole month off to travel and celebrate.  Why? Because at 40 I finally can.

So bring on my 40’s, because life just keeps getting better and I can’t wait to see what the next decade has in store for me.  My dad tells me that life begins at 40, and I think I’m starting to believe him.  I am still strong and fit, I have a great family and plenty of everything.  With so many gifts to be grateful for, who can complain about another birthday?

And just for the record, 40 isn’t all that old.  I’m going to keep it in perspective like Kid Rock who says, “I’m better off than some, ‘cause I might be f*#king 40, but you’re f*#king 41!”

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Ashley Aakre is an author and serial entrepreneur.

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