40 (in 3 hours) / My middle-class privilege

Here it almost is: 40. On January 31st. I was shipped here by my parents in the early 70s. Forty years later, I am still a daughter, a sister, a cousin, but I am not a mother.

Next subject.

No, I can’t get off that easy. Sigh. I have complicated feelings about turning 40. I want to celebrate life, having one, a good one, but I also want to run and hide. I wrote a post entitled “39” last year. Aaargh. I don’t want to look it up. And in the future I don’t want to write posts entitled “41,” “42,” “43”….unless, of course—well, you know what. Unless of course I am typing with one hand while holding my little baby.

But a lot of good things are going on right now. While generally avoiding thoughts about my soon-to-be new age, I have been having a little appreciation fest in recent days.

My husband is blowing my mind as usual and sometimes my love for him feels bigger than the universe—it almost hurts to love this much. It’s like I want to squeeze him so hard that neither of us can breathe and our bones break a little. Last weekend we had some highly anxiety-provoking snags (black mold in the bathroom, more tax-audit joy), and we had our first heated argument in what felt like ages, but in the middle of all the stress, we went out to lunch for sushi and talked like we were a new couple getting to know each other. For hours we talked, exploring each others’ ideas, neither of us budging even after the check was paid.

I’m appreciating, too, material things. DH and I are not making a lot of money for two people (especially since I’m not working at all), and I have a mountain of student loan debt that I avoid thinking about as much as I avoid thinking about the number 40, but we’re doing okay. We eat like kings. I spend the most money each week on groceries and have been cooking elaborate, delicious meals like mahi-mahi coated in crushed sunflower seeds served on a bed of spinach with mango salsa made from scratch. In recent weeks, we have bought: a therapeutic mattress topper, two expensive HEPA filter air cleaners, a half-year supply of water pitcher filters, a new shower curtain, a new dish rack, several books, and a Nutribullet. Oh, and for the first time ever, I am iPhoned. I was a serious hold-out—I didn’t even have a smartphone! But since yesterday, I am walking around with a 5c, falling in love with Siri.

I already live in a country that has relatively clean air and water, but I am able to buy stuff that makes the air and water even cleaner. I am able to buy a gadget that will make yummy fresh vegetable-fruit-nut drinks for me whenever I want. If I have mold in my bathroom, I just go to the hardware store and buy all the items I need to make it go away. If I want a phone that can answer my questions, take photos, shine like a flashlight, keep me on schedule, and navigate me through my world, I can go buy it at the phone store for under a hundred dollars.

And if I want, I can spend thirty thousand dollars of my in-laws’ money on IVF and thirty thousand dollars of our own on DE IVF. And if that doesn’t work out, or even if it does, I can most likely figure out a way to finance adoption, too.

My problems are first-world problems. Usually, thinking about this doesn’t do much to mitigate the negative. But I’m in that hopeful, gearing-up phase, right now, and I’ve found that in this phase, I am able to access ways of thinking that are totally inaccessible after a pregnancy loss. I am able, right now, to clearly see my middle-class privilege and to appreciate the comforts with full heart.

(Of course, what I don’t have right now is “fertility privilege.” See these excellent posts, “Fertility Privilege, Part 1” and “Fertility Privilege, Part 2”  by Schroedinger’s Catbox—that’s where I got the phrase from. I hope she publishes an essay on the subject, it’s freaking brilliant.)

I’ve also been appreciating the spiritual journey DH and I have been deepening and the life-long implications of it. We are learning and growing at an exponential rate. During our sushi lunch, the overarching question seemed to be: “What is happening to us?”

So, turning 40 is not all scary. It is partly scary, but not all, and I’ve just got to embrace what I can and accept the rest. DH is taking me somewhere special for dinner, and I know we’ll have fun. I’ll spend the day painting, journaling, reading, going to the gym, soaking in that bone-warming sauna heat. On Saturday I’ll see my dear friend R, and on Sunday, we might go to a multi-faith church of sorts and see what it’s like. I don’t know what the future brings, but for now, life is good, and I’m not going to question it.

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21 Comments

  1. Thanks for the shout out, lady. Happy effing birthday. You are amazing.

    Reply
  2. I feel for you with all of these words but regardless I want to wish you a Happy Birthday. I hope that you can have a good day because you deserve it.

    Reply
  3. Happy Birthday Boo! Forty is Fabulous! You do have a sweet life (I’m totes jealous of you). Your baby is right around the corner–close enough for you to smell the baby lotion! 40 will be your best year :) Love, Me

    Reply
    • Ba-ha! Smell the baby lotion. Smell it! You are hysterical. I thought 39 was going to be my best year, but 39 can suck my big toe as 40 takes over and shows her what this shit is all *about*. I hope…

      Reply
  4. Happy birthday!! I hope you have a super meal out and get lots and lots of presents. Your life does sound pretty sweet, bar the obvious one-thing-we-all-want. It’s my birthday in a few days too… I’m a bit meh about mine, but just focussing on all the presents!! Hope you have a great day xxxx

    Reply
    • Ha! Focus on the presents, yes! I’m going to drink a nutribullet shake while tapping on my iPhone, thank you very much. Happy birdle dirdle to you, my dear, in a few days. May you be avalanched with pressies.

      Reply
  5. So true. We are so privileged. In some respects and yet suffering a devastating deprivation in others.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

    I suggest you tell Siri “it is my birthday today”. :-)

    Reply
  6. Happy Birthday! I love your positive attitude about this birthday and your life right now. It does sound fabulous. Wishing you a wonderful year ahead!!!

    Reply
  7. Happy, happy, HAPPY birthday to one hell of a lady!! This is sure to be the best year yet! And you are absolutely right…there are so many awesome things that we have. So many things we don’t have to worry about. Life can always be worse. Enjoy that gluten free cake…at least a couple pieces =)

    Reply
  8. Happy belated sweetness, I’m sad to have missed it. I love this post though, I love this new leaf you’re turning. It makes me feel so overwhelming hopeful for you. Your relationship with DH is enlightening and beautiful and you have wonderful things in your life with another very important one to come soon. Huge love your way xxx

    Reply

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