By E.J. Gordon
My husband and I crawled into bed last week, and it was one of those nights when both of us had it in our heads that it should be a sex night. We were both home and going to bed at the same time, the kids were sleeping; it had been a few days too long since the last time, and we each had made a comment the night before that we should make time for it the next night.
And then the next night was upon us. We crawled into bed, both of us intellectually wanting to have sex, but we were so tired at the same time. I snuggled up next to him and sighed. He hugged me, and I said, “Scratch right there.” I then guided his scratching from one part of my itchy back to the other until he hit just the right place. And I was thinking that if my six year old heard what I was saying: “YES! There! Right there … ahhhh, that’s so nice,” and then walked in — she would forever think that back scratching was the mysterious “Baby Dance” she’s heard so much about.
And then I giggled and said, “When did scratching my back become MORE satisfying than sex? What has become of me?”
He looked at me and said, “We’re old now, Babe. That’s what happens. We have itchy skin and declining hormones.”
And of course age was on our minds because I was about to have a very big birthday. I was turning 40.
Leading up to the big birthday, a friend of ours had joked, “Happy 30th!” This man had, of course, relied on years of “old” humor — because who wants to be 40?
At 30, I was eight months pregnant with my first child. As much as I love my children, having them sucked. I wasn’t one of those cheerful breeders who exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I just love being pregnant. It’s so magical carrying a human in my belly!” No, I was definitely not one of those. I was the woman who complained that I should get a “disabled parking sticker” because walking the extra few feet while pregnant was overwhelming to me.
I remember walking through a mall so slowly, stopping every few feet to take a breath, and an older woman cheerleading, “I hear ya, girl! You’ll get there!” As my sister will attest, I was the most miserable pregnant woman alive. Factor in the painful degenerating fibroid, the early labor and resulting bed rest, the terrifying anxiety about whether the baby will be okay, and the overall “I don’t know anything about raising a child!” feeling, and the unfortunate result was a very long nine months that felt like 12 months. So no, I don’t want to be 30 again.
Some people recall 25 as their Prime Time. But, I don’t want to be 25 again, either. I remember my 25th birthday as being particularly bad. It was a Monday, which is the worst day of the week for a birthday because everyone is in a bad mood. It was raining because it was April. I had been single since my college boyfriend and I had broken up in August, which was just long enough for the thrill of being available again to wear off and the loneliness to set in. My friends were all getting married. And I was going through that “Quarter Life Crisis” that happens after you’ve been in your selected career for a few years and realize you really don’t want to do it for the rest of your life. When I looked into my future, I saw a huge question mark. Would I find a new job in an industry I liked? Or would I end up temping and not finding a job worth having a college degree for? Would I find the love of my life I’d been told my whole life that I’d find one day? Or would I end up the lonely aunt who brought inappropriately expensive gifts to my future nieces and nephews while I treated my dog like a child, trying to fill a whole in my heart? I hated 25.
At 35, I was married. I was a mother. I had the life I’d wanted: being a happily married, at-home mom with three kids, close to all those I loved. But at 35 my life was full of dirty diapers, messy faces, and screams of “Mommy!!!” at every turn.
I remember walking around the backyard with the baby monitor in my hand and tears in my eyes, asking my husband, “Why won’t they just take the fucking nap??”
My husband responded the way all husbands do, “Just turn off the damn monitor.”
“That’s not going to make them sleep!” I yelled. Then I took a deep breath and said, “A few more years … then no more nap worries.”
At 35, I was living for everyone else. My life was about my babies. So no, I don’t want to be 35 again.
At 40, I have some time back: Come fall my kids will all be at school full-time.
I have my body back. I have time to work out and eat regular meals instead of my baby’s leftover mac ‘n’ cheese from her high chair.
I have my husband back. Instead of getting annoyed with him that he’s watching TV when he should be helping me feed and bathe the kids — I have a husband who is happily teaching my son how to use his Lacrosse stick.
I have my sense of humor back. Instead of the constant fatigue of nursing babies, wiping butts, playing with toys that make my brain cells shriek and claw for some sort of stimulation — I have kids who constantly make me laugh with their crazy questions, goofy antics and bizarre jokes.
At 40, instead of looking at the future wondering if I’ll ever be married, if I’ll ever have kids, if I’ll be happy, I look at the future with the freedom from those constant nagging concerns.
I can’t wait to see what happens with the seeds I’ve already planted. I’m totally ready for my Act II. And while I can no longer recover from the hangover I had after my birthday celebration with a big Diet Coke and Taco Bell, I can sleep through the night, and know in a few days and with a few Advil and yoga and apple cider vinegar — I’ll be fine.
At 40, I’m over trying to be cool … I’m there.
I can watch Downtown Abbey without the embarrassment that it’s not some dumb reality show that everyone’s into. I can listen to NPR or sing along to Broadway in the car and not act like I like the horrible pop music “all the kids today” are listening to. I can read Redbook in public instead of pretending to be interested in whomever Taylor Swift is fake-dating to hide her fake-boyfriend’s true sexuality. And while I do have itchy skin and declining hormones, what I know at 40 is that while I write about sex and making it better, the best part of being married isn’t sex; it’s having someone to scratch your back, exactly where you need it.
Happy birthday, Me.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: E.J. Gordon is a freelance writer, a regular contributor to GIRLillaWarfare, and “Sexpert”. Have any questions or topics that you would like her to address? Remember: No subject is taboo, and Anonymity is accepted. Contact E.J. at: EJGordon529@gmail.com.