I recently read an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow in which she mulls over how much she changed when she turned 40. A successful business woman and doting mum, she talks about finding focus and wisdom and says ‘At 40 my life changed so much. I think every woman around that time gets this massive software upgrade. You’re just different. You’re upgraded.
When I think back to two years ago and how I felt when I turned 40 I can come up with a whole long list of words. But nowhere on that list would you find the word ‘upgraded’. Shell shocked – yes. Knackered – absolutely. Dazed and incompetent – most definitely. But upgraded? Somebody hit ctrl, alt & delete!
You see for me, turning 40, although granted a milestone and cause for celebration, was somewhat overshadowed by the arrival of my wonderful daughter and the huge life-change of becoming a mum for the first time. I didn’t find focus and wisdom. I found nappies and nipple cream and if I was really lucky the time to scrape a flannel under my armpits and spray some dry shampoo into my hair.
My actual 40th birthday party passed me by in a bit of a blur. It was a scorchingly hot day (Summer. We had an actual summer) and I felt like a highly emotional and overheated whale with nothing to wear. Ella chose to scream rather than nap, and I spent most of the day worrying about her and praying that Demis Rusos wouldn’t call and demand to have his kaftan back (you’d also have to be over the age of 40 to get that one.)
It’s fair to say that 40 (pretty much the whole year, not just the day) was all a bit of daze. A gloriously happy daze I must add, but I was most definitely off the ball way more than I was on it. Becoming a mum had plunged me into an alien world where chaos reigned supreme and somedays I quite literally felt like I didn’t know my arse from my elbow. Not a software upgrade in sight.
41 has registered slightly higher on the compus mentis scale (hurrah) and in the last few months I feel like I may almost be firing on all cylinders again. Now that Ella has become more independent, I actually have time to think rather than just do. Having the time to ponder life, the universe and everything as opposed to just wondering ‘how the hell have I forgotten to wash Mr O’s work trousers again’ and ‘what the fuck are we going to have for dinner tonight’ is a pretty wonderful thing!
So as I celebrate my 42nd birthday tomorrow, I feel hopeful that I might receive (as well as boatload of fabulous presents, obviously) my ever so slightly overdue upgrade. I’m ready for it now. I’m ready to find my super-woman, super-cool, super-focused ‘inner Gwynnie’!
I don’t expect to ever be completely free from days where I fuck-up on the laundry front and end up frantically blow-drying my sports bra before I go to work. Or moments where I find yesterday’s knickers stuck halfway down the leg of my jeans (Gywneth – does this happen to you often, love?)
But now that the new-mummy fog has lifted I think it’s high time that I find that fabulous forty-something focus and wisdom. So Happy Upgrade to me! (Now where do I click to start the download…..???)