I have been pretty vocal with people that this is not a happy occasion. I have no idea why, but I have a mental glitch that makes 40 seems very old. I have said that it feels like I am heading down the back side of the mountain of life. You can't even pretend to be in touch and cool when you are 40. It has always been that way in my mind. 40 equals old.
It has been worse for me lately. I really was down about turning 40. Sure, there are all of the usually qualifiers. "It's better than the alternative." "I've got my health, so that's great." And of course my older friends have chirped in with the, "You are young compared to me so shut up." I didn't say they were kind friends.
I think part of my problem is that there are certain milestones that naturally lead to reflection. New Year's Day. Class reunions. Birthdays and anniversaries that end in 5 or 0. Frankly, I haven't liked what this reflection has shown. I am 40. What have I done? I don't have a career to speak of. I stay home with my kids. I haven't built anything - either physically or economically. It can be kind of disheartening. So 40 hasn't been much of a super happy fun thought.
This past week the whole family was off. The kids had spring break, Heather was on vacation, and I was ... Um ... the usual. We decided to go to Orlando for the break. We had not been back since we moved to South Carolina in June. The original plan was to have a big 40th birthday bash one night. But living seven hours away makes it difficult to handle logistics. So instead we decided to see as many people as we could and do a bunch of stuff we had missed since we moved.
So we went to a bunch of restaurants we used to frequent. We hit 4 Rivers Smokehouse and Flippers Pizza and Tijuana Flats. We went to Summit Church for Palm Sunday. We spent a day at Downtown Disney. We even got to try The Coop - the new restaurant by the 4 Rivers crew. All of that was awesome to experience.
But what really made the week memorable was the time we got to spend with our friends. We didn't get to see everyone we wanted to see, but we did get to spend quality time with a bunch of people. By the time we wrapped up our roster of visits on Friday night, something had begun to dawn on me. I wake up as a very blessed 40 year old man.
I like to poke fun at how often people use #blessed on their twitter and Facebook posts. But it really is the truest word I feel right now. I am blessed beyond belief.
- I have a brilliant, beautiful, amazing wife who loves and supports me. She is pursuing her dream, and providing financially for our family through that. She is an example and model for her fellow residents - as well as medical students following in her path. She pushes me to be better and trusts me.
- I have three incredible, gorgeous children. They are funny and talented and wonderful. I have the unbelievable honor of not only being their dad, but also spending every day with them. Yes, there are days where that honor feels more like a cruel punishment. And there are days I wish there were still bands of wandering gypsies I could sell them to. But, all in all, I cannot believe how lucky I am to have the time and relationship I have with them.
- I have family who loves me beyond words. That is not limited to the family I was born with. It also includes my parents in-law, brothers and sisters in-law, cousins, uncles and aunts. As I grew into an adult, I was sad about how little I knew my extended family. But now I have such an abundance of extended family that it is impossible to keep up with all of them. My children have cousins who adore them and can't wait to see them - beautiful kids that will be lifelong friends. It is so wonderful.
- I have friends, such sweet and faithful friends, that have been a part of my life for decades. It really struck me this week that I have multiple friendships of the intensity that some people will never find in their lives. These are people I would not hesitate to leave my children with. And they would trust me with their kids. I know that if something catastrophic happened and I called these people, they would be in a car driving to assist before I hung up. (Of course they would have to wade through about three levels of family who also responded.) They have kids that love my kids like brothers and sisters. As a dad, I cannot adequately express how much these kids and parents mean to me.
- Most importantly I have a God who loves me to such a ridiculous, illogical, unfathomable level that he sent his Son to rescue me from a life of hopelessness, emptiness, and frustration. He loved me no matter how unlovely, hateful, irresponsible, lazy, and unfaithful I was. I find it quite appropriate that my 40th birthday falls on Easter this year. I get to celebrate my special day on the most special day. I don't have to fear getting older because of what happened on Easter. I don't ever have to feel alone or unloved because of Easter. And I can realize just how silly it is to be down about turning 40 because of Easter.
So happy birthday to me. I truly believe I am the most blessed man around. Thank you all for the gift you have given me by being a part of my life.