I had several friends who recently posted links on Facebook to this amazing article written by the Austin Mom’s Blog. Just reading it made me want to break out in hives.

The author is a middle 30 something with toddlers and babies. She is a decade younger than me. And clearly precious. She is probably totally nailing the parenthood thing just based on the fact that she’s even worried that she may not be nailing the parenthood thing.

This is my love letter back to that middle 30’s mom and to every other exhausted mom in their 30s.

I want you to know what this next decade is going to look like for you.

I want to tell you what being a middle-aged mom looks like so that you can brace yourself is possible.

As a 45-year-old mother of a 9, 13 and 15-year-old…. I will tell you that THIS STAGE of life is hard too.  It’s just a different hard.  It’s a scary hard. And it humbling. And everything feels big, urgent and slightly out of your control.

In this stage, you finally feel like you have some time and yet….. that you are running out of time.

The 40s are consistently very confusing and yet, very satisfying.

In the stage of life, you finally get time to shave your legs again but there is this incredible realization that you no longer have the thighs of your 30’s. You now understand why moms wear swim skirts and cover-ups and capris. And it makes you sad. You google “vein clinics”. But then you see the cost and decide capris aren’t really that bad after all.

In this stage, you finally get a chance to actually read again for the first time in like 15 years. To read a book for actual pleasure instead of reading a book on how to be a better mom, or a better Christian or how to raise normal kids.  You get to read whatever you want. You remember you like to read. You wonder how many great books you’ve missed in the last decade?

But then you decide to just watch Netflix instead because TV is easier to see than the words on a page. At 45 you need readers. Your friends are getting reading glasses but you are holding out. Glasses are for old people. You aren’t old. So you stick to Netflix because…. no words. You decide books are dumb.

In this stage, you finally get to return to decorating your home again. Your formal dining room is no longer overrun with mega saucers, bouncy chairs, and Hot Wheel tracks.  You finally feel like you could take a chance on that tufted cream sofa because your kids have finally quit wiping their Cheetos fingers on your furniture and unscrewing the lids of their sippy cups.

But yet you wonder if you should use that money on a family vacation because of the whole “spend money on experiences and not things” article you just read on Facebook.  Sofa or vacation? Sofa or vacation? You want them both. You are torn. So much confusion at this stage.

In the stage of life, you get to start dressing like a grown-up again. In actual real life clothes that you can finally afford instead of second-hand yoga pants that you wore to every playdate in your 30s.

But even though you have more time and money to shop, the shopping is so confusing because you’re at such a weird age. You’re no longer young and hip enough to find things at Forever 21. You swear that Express has shrunk their clothes (you were never that size in your 30s). And yet you don’t want to shop at your mom’s stores either.

You wrestle with thoughts like can I still pull off torn jeans? Does a romper look like I am trying too hard?  Are my days of wearing sleeveless shirts over because hello, arm dangles. (to you 30 somethings…. “arm dangles” are what you call that lovely soft, squishy flesh on your inner arm that you didn’t have in your 30s. No need to look in the mirror for it. Your precious kids will point it out to you when you grow it in your 40’s. Brace yourselves.)

How do I dress my age when on the inside I still feel like I am 28 and how can anyone even trust me with a mortgage anyway?

These are the things you wonder about in your middle 40s.

In this stage, you begin to notice that your hands look like your mothers. You begin to wonder when your face actually got this many wrinkles? You swear your skin was flawless just five hot minutes ago.

You also wonder what kind of a cruel trick is that is that your acne is worse in your middle 40s than it ever was as a teenager??  It’s like a bad joke really. You consider botox but then remind yourself “wrinkles are a sign of wisdom and Botox is only for women consumed with their looks”.

But you break down and get the botox because you don’t feel like being wise. You want the flawless face of your 30’s back, dang it. Wisdom is fixing the wrinkles. Hallelujah!

In this stage, every decision you make for your kids seems so much bigger. Especially the teens. Decisions on sleepovers.  Riding with new drivers? Do you let them go to movies with friends? What if those friends are girls?

HOW THE HELL AM I 45 WITH TEENAGERS any stinkin’ way???? I swear I just had a fake ID like a decade ago.

Do you even know the names of their teachers anymore? No, no you don’t.

Signing the homework folder is replaced with checking their grades online once every few weeks.  YOU FEEL SO DISCONNECTED to their everyday “things” compared to how you felt in your 30’s. You feel guilty that you aren’t keeping up with their studies more.  Maybe you should go meet the teachers????

But they are honor roll kids and they want you to “back off” …… so you “back off” with Netflix and a margarita on the patio with your husband and this incredible satisfaction in knowing that all those spelling words you practiced in your 30s are paying off in your 40s.

Keep practicing them, ladies. Your reward comes when they hit junior high. Or in Heaven. I’m not sure but thank you Jesus that the days of spelling words and multiplication tables are o.v.e.r.

In this stage of life, you take more pregnancy tests than you did in the first half of your life.  Am I pregnant? Or is my period over?  Why am I sneaking pregnancy tests in the pharmacy like I am a 17-year-old??????

In this stage of life your body is just a crap shoot.  Do you just have old, exhausted eggs that just aren’t up for ovulating this month?

Or are you knocked up at 45???? It’s so confusing.

You know you’ve got old eggs and yet you also remember your hubby never DID go back and have his vasectomy tested. Cusswords.

Is this a menopause belly or 9 weeks into an unexpected midlife pregnancy. Only 389 pregnancy tests will tell you. Hello, mid 40s.

In the stage of life your hormones are a freaking train wreck. Half the time you will feel exactly like you did when you were pregnant. Emotional. Tired. Fluffffffffy.

Yet in this stage of life is filled with weird doctor appointments with the words “premenopausal”, “genetics” and “incontinence”. Your body starts to fail you in your mid 40s and it pisses you off. You are NOT that old dang it.

In this stage of life you begin to look at things through the lens of knowing that your life is half over. You start thinking really profound things like “am I actually making a difference in this world ?”  and “if I died today have I taught my kids enough?” .

Lots and lots of deep, deep thoughts followed immediately by panic when you remember you are practically out of toilet paper at home and you need to pick up your teenager from baseball like 5 minutes ago.

In this stage of life you forget everything. Pick up times. School events. Your neighbor’s names.

You begin to wonder if you need St. John’s Wart or if this is early stage dementia. You don’t google “early warning signs of dementia” tho’ because you learned your lesson when you googled “why am I missing my period at age 45?”.

WebMD scared the hell out of you in  your 30s. But you’ve learned your lesson. You are smarter at 45. You avoid WebMD like the plague. You are a genius. You just forget a little.

In this stage of life you are merely a taxi.  So.many.trips.to.school.and.practice.and.friends.houses. You are making aaaaaaaaall the trips on aaaaaaaall the days.

Trust me on this. This is the stage where you spend half of your afternoons texting other moms trying to remember if its YOUR day or THEIR? day to pick up kids. AND WHICH SCHOOL ARE THEY EVEN AT TODAY?

This stage of life is bloody chaos. 

In the stage of life you begin to understand that you just can’t do as much physically as you want to without having week long consequences. Roller coasters that you used to ride will reduce you to tears. Is your life insurance policy paid up to date??? Do you still want your same family member to raise your kids in the event of tragedy?

So.many.thoughts. just from an amusement park ride. This is why you end up letting your kids go without you. WHICH YOU VOWED YOU WOULD NEVER DO IN YOUR 30s.

In this stage, jumping on the trampoline with your kids will result in 3 chiropractor appointments next week.

Sledding? You are rolling the dice between beautiful family memories and crutches. For real.

You focus on things like “recovery time”. You hate that you are getting old.

In the stage of life you start doing crazy things like half marathons and triathlons and 9Rounds to remind yourself that you may be middle-aged but you can still keep up with these thirty-somethings.

Then…… you tear your shoulder and decide keeping up with those 30 somethings is a dumb idea. Just whatever.

This stage of life is a lot of eating crow because all those things you never said you do with your kids? You’re totally doing. All those judgments you made against all those older moms? You are eating your words.  You eat crow in your 40s.  Alot. It’s so much easier to parent teens when you don’t have teens. Trust me on this.

In this stage of life you still need girlfriends like crazy. Girlfriends to text inappropriate memes to in the middle of the night.  Girlfriends you can bounce rules and punishments and boundaries and questions off of. Girlfriends who will share important info with you like how they worded their living will and who they went to for plastic surgery consults.

You need girlfriends who will assure you that you’re not screwing everything up thing up. Girls who will bring you raw chip cookie dough or a bottle of moscato on a moments notice. Girls who are in the thick of this season right along with you. There is nothing quite like a bunch of moms joining arms. I love my girls so much.

In this season of your middle 40s you’re finally coming into your own as a grown up. You’ve finally learned that sometimes you just need to say… screw it. And to some people you just need to say…. screw it.

You finally figure out how to say no and not apologize.  You say yes to the things that are meaningful.  I’m telling you….. your face may disappoint you with its facial lines and it’s sagging skin but you will be gutsier in your 40s than you have ever been in your life and I believe the trade-off is worth it.

You let.crap.go. You have too many carpool lines to drive in to worry about what someone thinks of your life decisions. Bless your 30s heart. You are so much more comfortable in your wrinkled skin in your 40s. Thank you Jesus!

In the stage of life everything is going at warp speed and there is a constant temptation to look back and wish that you had done more. Saved more. Said more. Been more.

You start to wonder things like when was the last time you actually washed your daughters hair or carried your son to bed? You’ll feel like a jerk because you can’t remember. You feel bad that you haven’t journal-ed enough or scrapbooked since 2002. But who has time to scrapbook when you are in the carpool line 33% of your time????

Right now in your 30s you are strictly in survival mode. In your 40s you wake back up from that survival slumber and you take your life back.

And you start thinking that 50 doesn’t look that old at all.

I’m going to tell you that your little girls will suddenly start acting just.like.you.

And your sons start to smell like your husband. Every day there is more facial hair, armpit hair and oh my gosh how are they wearing size 12 shoes? This is the most precious precious precious stage with them yet. And yet I miss the stage you are in too.

And the more you try to keep these kids little….. the bigger they get. And I promise you when everything in me that if you think they are growing fast in the toddler stage….. this teen stage way outdoes that.

In your 40s you start getting a whole new perspective of how little you know and how much you jacked up earlier in life. You start getting this incredible understanding of how God’s grace is enough to cover all of your mess ups.

And it forever will humble you to know that your kids are going to turn out amazing…. despite yourself.

Yes, your 30s are hard. You are exhausted 110% of the time.

And your 40s are hard too. But they are a rewarding hard. They are a sweet hard. They are a different hard.

And you’re going to love them.

The 40s are hard. But they rock.

Incontinence, wrinkles, capris and all.

Come on in. The water’s just fine.

Best,

Jennifer

This post originally appeared in The Magic Brush Inc.

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