By Brenna Berger
I just had a birthday and managed to avoid one of those "Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's 40!" newspaper ads. I'm cool with 40. I wasn't so cool with the premature invitation to visit a local retirement community. I thought 40 was the new 30.
Turning 40 has caused me to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going.
Those ladies that come up to you in the commissary when your kids are screaming in the shopping cart and all you want to do is grab a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread? As much as I hate to admit it, they were right. Time does fly. Kids do grow up too fast. It hit me the other day - my son will leave for college in five years. Five years! It seems like it was only two weeks ago that I dropped him off at Ms. Susan's kindergarten class at Fort Campbell.
I'm stronger than I was 10 years ago. I still can't do a decent pushup, but I'm mentally stronger. I can thank years of repeated deployments for that strength. I learned that even though I was capable of raising my kids on my own, I was thankful every day that I didn't have to. My husband did an incredible job of staying connected with us while he was away.
It's funny to think that deployments were not even on my radar when I turned 30. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to have had my husband home with us, but I can't even imagine what my life would have been like without the struggle of deployments. For better or for worse, they have left their mark on me.
Ten years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom living at Fort Bliss, Texas, with two toddlers. Since then, we have PCS'd five times. I'm now a work-outside-the-home mom with two middle schoolers. For years, I struggled with how to reconcile my desire to have some sort of career with the realities of frequent moves and deployments. I can now appreciate the string of disparate part-time jobs that helped me figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up. I'm thankful to everyone who gave a mom with liberal arts degree and an extra long "sabbatical" on her resume a chance to get back into the workforce.
Ten years ago, there were fewer lines on my face and fewer gray hairs on my head. While I still lament the fact that I need to buy a product that fights both wrinkles and acne, I've grown more accepting of the person looking back at me in the mirror. While I'm still years away from the weekly wash and set, I hope to accept the aging process with grace.
And a bit of help from anti-aging serums, under-eye rollers, SPF-50 moisturizers and a nightly retinol cream. I am only 40.
Brenna Berger can be reached at email@example.com.