This Thursday is not only Thanksgiving in my house, it is my birthday. Also, it is not just any birthday, it is my 40th birthday. It’s not the age that is bothering me. I have many friends who have gone ahead of me and they assure me that there is air up there. I don’t want to seem like a childish youth-seeker holding my breath as I am pushed out of the elevator doors onto the 40th floor. But I cannot ignore the emotional effects that this transition is having on me. I am also wrestling with the fact that I am not responding as a child of God, full of faith and hope. So, in an effort to sort through the clutter of my mind I will unpack some of it here.
Adding: I got married when I was 20 years old. My adult life began with a big add. I had added a husband and another family. I added my own home with the furniture that I had found and chosen. About 5 months after we were married we found out that we were adding a person to our home. Over the next 5 years we added two more people to total three boys that we were thoroughly enjoying and doing our best to raise.
All through the last 20 years I have been adding. I have had losses. I have had some truly difficult losses that will always leave a hole in my heart. But by and large it has been a time where each new phase approaching my life brought something that would add to my life in a beautiful way.
The fear of Subtracting: As I face my 40th birthday, I see a time of massive subtraction ahead. I have a sense that the scales are tipping. This is why I am afraid of this transition. My boys, whose company I love and cherish, are reaching the times when they will be rightly moving on and starting their periods of adding to their lives. But that will be a subtraction from mine, times three. I know that the people that are in my family are approaching their times of moving onto the BIG ADD, Heaven. But that will definitely be a deeply felt subtraction for me.
My daily life will be subtracted as I need to cook for less people and maybe even less often. Not a big loss as far as the chore of it all but rather the joy in knowing that I am making the men in my life happy. I love hearing the yummy noises of delight and hearing them say, “That was really good, Mama. Thank you for making dinner.” Such a sweetly generous reward for a menial task. I will feel this subtraction.
I know it seems a dismal view to take about an upcoming milestone. But I find that I cannot avoid it. I can repress it but ultimately to no real avail. I am feeling stung by the transition. I see a fog of undefined reality ahead of me. I can’t see what the adds will be whilst the outlines of the upcoming subtractions are all too clear. Truthfully, I am frightened. The tiny, inner me that whines at adversity and cowers at change is screaming, “But I don’t wanna!” I am trying to rationalize with her, but I fear she is deaf to reason. I am coming to my dear friends who are across the threshold for assurance and reason. I am looking to my parents and in laws to see the joys of the next phase of add that waits; daughters in law, grandchildren and such, if God wills.
So, I will do my best answer the knock on Thursday with a gracious and hopeful smile, welcoming the possibilities of the future. I will quiet the inner me with a soothing lullaby chorus of, “Breathe. You were never in control to begin with. God is bigger than the moments you fear. Go back to sleep until you arise again at 50.”