This past June, I turned 40. I wasn't terribly fixated on the number itself - I know some forty-year-olds who act like like they're 80 and some seniors who'd give a twenty-five-year-old a run for her money - but of course I wanted to mark the occasion.
So I went to France with two girlfriends. We flew into Paris and spent a couple of days - then we rented a car and drove into the countryside to visit some of the wine regions. For 10 days, we rammed around France, drinking wine, shopping, eating amazing food and seeing the sights. And did I mention drinking wine? It was an amazing trip, and I had a blast.
I don't know if I'm the only one who does this...but yeah, sometimes, I wonder what my life would be like if I were on my own. No kids, no husband; just the freedom to go anywhere and do anything.
My somewhat romanticized vision has me adventurously travelling across the globe to all sorts of exotic locations (Brazil! New Zealand! Africa!) - which I am somehow funding without having to work for a living. So I'm willing to concede that, perhaps, the reality wouldn't exactly match what I'm imagining.
But whether you really want to or not, turning 40 is one of those times where you can't help but take stock of your life and think, Am I where I want to be? Have I done the things I set out to do by this point in my life? What's missing?
It's easy to fixate on the things you didn't do - the paths you didn't take. It took me a
loooong time to decide I was really ready to settle down and have kids, and
sometimes, I feel like I've taken the "safe and boring" track. I didn't do a placement abroad after I got my teaching English as a second language certification. I haven't been to Thailand or New Zealand. Instead, I moved back to the suburbs, where I grew up, and I schlep into Toronto to work every day.
So I went away on my girls' trip to France. For 10 days, I didn't have to worry about rushing home from work, or putting anyone to bed, or breaking up fights, or getting anyone a snack (actually, scratch that last part - even grownups need snacks). I had no responsibilities. And it was awesome.
But then I came back home, and my little girls ran to meet me, jumping on me and crying, "Mommy! Mommy!" as though I was a celebrity, and I was unbelievably glad to see them. And I realized, whatever trade-offs I've made, they're totally worth it. Just for the sheer joy in their voices, the sound of their laughter, the feel of their little arms cuddled tight around my neck.
Sometimes, you need a little distance to see more clearly.
Forget the path not taken...I'm still on a path. And if it's something I really want - one way or another - I'll get there.