Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

June 9, 2010

Why it's rubbish not being 40

I had a birthday recently. It was a significant one. No, not THAT significant one, the one before it. I turned 39. I got a few cards. Five to be precise. I like to blame this on the fact that I was on holiday in Spain for the big day, rather than on the fact that I am now SO old that no-one can actually remember when my birthday is, or how old I am so they don’t bother to send a card for fear of getting it all wrong.

“Enjoy the last year in your thirties, ha ha ha,” wrote my hilarious family and friends in the cards I did get. I hadn’t given it much thought beforehand, but reading this I realised that I may as well be teetering on the edge of a rocky headland, arms flailing in a desperate bid to stay on the cliff of my youth, rather than crash into the rocks of old age below. A few friends did politely enquire if this was ‘the big one’, scared to go all out and buy me a ‘Life Begins’ card for fear of insulting me a year too soon. Some did actually do this and commiserated with me on finally reaching the grand old age of 40. You can imagine my delight.

I’m not really all that bothered about turning 40, although I suppose I do still have a whole year to begin my crisis about the fact. And that’s what feels so strange about turning 39. It’s a rubbish age. A kind of no-man’s-land age because no-one is actually interested in the fact that you’re 39, they are only interested (and take great pleasure in reminding you) of the fact that you’re nearly 40. So really, you might as well be 40.

As a Knackered Mum*, I can probably be expected to suffer the ravages of time more than my child-free friends, so although I don’t feel as though I’m nearly 40, I probably look it, especially on a morning as I shuffle around like an old hag fetching breakfast things.

The grey hair is most definitely winning the battle, the anti-wrinkle creams are failing miserably and hand cream is a daily necessity rather than an after-thought. But so what? I’m getting older and that’s that. I’m certainly not going to fret about it or succumb to the lure of botox or start dressing like a teenager in an attempt to defy my age. Instead, I shall valiantly cling onto my youth as best as I can by availing of the best hair dyes out there, watching the X Factor and the occasional episode of MTV Cribs and keeping it real, or living it large or whatever the yoof of today would say...oh, who am I kidding. I'm bloody ancient.

*my official job title for purposes of form-filling
(image courtesy of Miss Anne Taintor)



  1. I found the anticipation worse than the reality. I did have some kind of "am old, am going to die soon, oh I give up! crisis at the time, but 41 sort of broke the spell, still alive, still doing 99% of the stuff I've always been doing, did not spontaneously sprout a blue rinse or a love of all thing crimpolene. 42 after an "OMG, 42 is like 45 really which means I'm actually coming up for realistically I'll be 70 in the blink of an eye", but a large bottle of Chianti drowned that voice out of my head quite quickly.

    Most of all I like it, I have the self confidence and lack of self consciousness that I'd assumed would show up at 30...but didn't.

    Happy 39th, for what it is, not what it is leading to.

    Make a wish, if it is for a wrinkle cream that works you'll have my added support in lobbying the universe for that one.

  2. Happy birthday! I imagine that 39 is worse than 40. After all you'll get to 40 and everything will be fine. But at 39 you have a whole year of dread! LOL! I guess as we all know being 40 is actually alright you should spend the next year looking forward to your birthday! And making big hints about the pressies you want!

  3. As a fellow 39er, it could have been me writing this post!
    Like you, I genuinely don't give two damns about the number...but hair dye and moisturiser have become a staple requirement.
    I look like 3 hags tied together in the mornings, but I scrub up OK for an auld wan.
    Love the post

  4. Well - I had a similar, "where are all the cards?" thing recently - but I've just been 41. It's even worse when it happens the wrong side of 40! Not even a big party to look forward to in a year's time! Happy birthday anyhow - and enjoy being 39 for a whole year yet.

  5. A very happy 39th to you!

    I turned 45 on Monday. I'm still in shock. How can this be happening?!

    I have an excellent 40th advice to anyone is 'go party' and be fab. at 40!

  6. Happy 39th! Someone said recently that 70 is the new 50, so that makes you only 19... Don't worry about the 40 (I'm 43) celebrate it (and each grey and every wrinkle) it's better than the alternative. Many happy returns.

  7. Well, happy birthday. When I turned 29, I had a little panic about nearly being 30. It was great - by the time 30 came around I was over it. Maybe this will happen for you.

  8. I dont worry about age really, apart from the fact MadDad is 7 years older than me!! My own mother forgot my birthday last year

  9. What? The wrinkle creams aren't working? You mean the stress that kids give you is more powerful than a cream that model, who was airbrushed and photoshop, swears will work? No way!
    Happy birthday, btw. Hope you had fun in Spain anyway without more cards. It's my second country and pretty much home so I REALLY hope you had a good time!

  10. I feel your pain, I just turned 39 as well. What a god forsaken boring age it is.

  11. Happy 39th! Hope it's a super year.

  12. Happy belated birthday my lovey! 39 is a strange one isn't it? I'm turning the big 4-0 later this year and can't blooming well believe it.

  13. Turning 40 is fine - turning 50 is not so good! It's all in the mind, I keep telling myself!!

  14. Funny thing, age. If we didn't have a number then I wonder how old you would feel? I like to think I'd be stuck at 29, that was a good number for me. Hope 39 is just as cool for you.

  15. Happy Birthday Hot Cross Mum. Remember, if you do have a mid life crises it will make great copy, you would probably even get another book out of it!

  16. I hope you had a good birthday, 39 is definitely worse than 40, there is celebration at 40 whereas 39 is when you start to mourn the end of your thirties. Look forward to celebrating 40 in style!

  17. What a lovely experience! It's so hard finding the right stylist.Looks beautiful!


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