The big difference between 30 and 40 is a feeling of contentment and being settled. I'm no longer planning when/if we should have another child, we are no longer searching for our forever house and neighborhood, I'm no longer stressing over whether or not I should give up my career. We have settled into our lives, to our marriage, to parenting, and it feels good. (Not that we don't still have plenty of dreams for our future, just that their urgency is different.) I'm in better shape than I was at 30 and feel more comfortable in my own skin, nevermind the extra smile lines around the eyes (sunglasses even when overcast!) or that weird, occasional chin hair that makes me feel 80 instead of 40 (tweezers, for more than just brows!). I know myself better and I am more aware of and able to focus on what really matters in life to me. I feel so much of my 30s were the planning years (especially my early 30s), the adjusting to being a parent years, the figuring out your identity years.
Last weekend Jimmy and I took Charlie to the preschool fall festival in our neighborhood and we both sort of looked around at the many, many very young children and then glanced at each other knowing we both felt a bit grateful that the baby years were behind us. Grateful too that we had had our chance to enjoy them, but thankful that we were on the other side of nighttime feedings and diapers and pacis and cribs, etc... At the risk of sounding completely selfish, let me assure you, that I adored the newborn/baby years with my boys, truly I did. Plenty of times I'd just look at them and cry from overwhelming happiness or marvel at their milestones like they were the first humans in history to be so completely amazing, Sometimes I still feel that way. I just like where we are as a family now too. I like that we are moving beyond the little years. Occasionally (ok, often) I can be a bit wistful for those times and their chubby cheeks and baby smells, but knowing our family is complete is a good feeling and makes turning 40 easier.
Now, I'm pretty sure with my entrance into middle age that I'm expected to ditch bikinis and mini skirts and possibly colored tights but I have every intention of hanging on to those things as long as I can. If you start to see things heading south, kindly let me know, until then, I will continue to dress like my 30 year old self! If Gwyneth Paltrow can do it, by golly, so can I! So for those of you still in your 20s or 30s, don't fear 40, look forward to it! You'll still feel pretty much the same. You'll likely have a few more of life's battle scars under your belt (and many more to come, ugh) but it's just like what everyone preaches, it's only a number and there is plenty of good that comes from reaching it too. Cheers!