WHAT WOULD RALUCA DO IS A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS, MUSINGS AND ADVICE ON MODERN-DAY MOTHERHOOD BY RALUCA STATE, THE CREATOR OF WHAT WOULD GWYNETH DO.

The almost (just turned) 40 crisis

Quarter-life crisis. Mid-life crisis. End of life crisis.

The almost (just turned) 40 crisis. It's a new one that I want to talk about today. Because if you're anything like me and my friends and my friends' friends...you're in it. Or about to be. 

So here is what I have (sort of) figured out: we women spend our 20s and 30s building our careers, our families, our marriages, our friendships. A lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of heart goes into all of it. With good reason. 

And then right around now, at the cusp of 40 or just past it, we finally have a minute to sit back and breathe and look at building ourselves. The career is established, the kids are thriving, the marriage is trucking along...it's time for me. Or you, in your case.

But a lot of us don't like what we see.

Raise your hand if you are going through any of the following: 

You don't want to work anymore. Retirement is a million or so years away and you're already fed up with working. You've been at it forever (or it feels that way), you don't know if you even like what you're doing, and every day you dream about becoming a candle maker, bakery owner, therapist...anything else. Or if you're like me, you want to simplify everything (because who needs money and clients anyways?) and move to a mountaintop in Vermont and just walk your dog and read. That's a lot to think about. 

You have babies on the brain. Maybe you're struggling with whether or not you want any more. Maybe you're upset you never had one. Maybe yours have grown up so much that you are turning to your puppy for the unconditional love you still crave (guilty as charged). You realize that your clock is not going to be ticking for all that much longer so suddenly there is this intense pressure on your body and your mind to make that final call or to make peace with the call you already made. That's a lot to think about. 

Your friendships are evolving. You're in a new phase of life now. First, you wanted someone to socialize with. To go out for cocktails, to have brunch on Sundays, to travel with. Then you wanted someone to keep you afloat as you navigated motherhood, marriage, work schedules. Someone to cheer you on and be there to drink wine with you when the cheering stopped. Now you want more. You are looking for meaningful conversation. Thoughtful, intelligent engagement. A true connection that thrives beyond happy hour. And maybe you're sad because you're not finding it where you thought you would. That's a lot to think about. 

You are aging and it scares the shit out of you. Yesterday I twisted my knee doing a jumping jack, put on four different oils and serums to reduce fine lines and found like 14 new grey hairs. In one day. You're eating better than you ever have, making exercise a priority and taking all those vitamins that everyone keeps telling you about, but you're still aging. At what feels like a rapid pace. You're not sleeping well, you're not losing weight and let's not even talk about your period...it's like you are a teenager again and you may or may not kill your husband in a PMS fit one of these months. Emphasis on the may. It's a lot. 

You are in the middle. Caring for your kids and your parents at the same time is no joke. Mine are all well and healthy and more than able and I still find it draining to be mindful of everyone's needs and time and attention every day. I still add their to-do's onto mine. I still worry in the middle of the night about what lies ahead for all of us. I still have to give considerable thought, each and every day, to the quality of my relationships with everyone in my family to make sure I am giving enough. Being enough. Doing enough. A lot. 

Hands raised? I thought so.

And I wish I was here to give you a ton of advice on how to navigate it all. How to find your perfect vocation and more energy and the best conversation you've ever had with your girlfriend. Yes, I can give you tips on a few things that have worked for me (see below). But what I really want to say to you, even more than that, is that you're not alone. That every single day I have a good friend come to me to vent on one or more of these things. Or a multitude of other things that all stem from the same place. That we're all in a very similar phase tainted with insecurity and emotion and maybe even a slight depression...and that it's perfectly normal. Common, even. And probably not talked about the way it should be.

There's no "crisis" term for this stage that we can fall back on, mentally and physically. There is no one really paying attention to our needs during this transition because we've checked off all the boxes we were supposed to along the way so we must be just fine, right? We have the baby, the house, the job, the travel budget...the whatever it is you busted your butt for and accomplished along the way.

But maybe we need more. Want more. Dream of more. 

And I'm just here to tell you that it's ok to need that. And to recognize it. And to, in your own way, go after it.

Right after you walk the dog, of course. 

A few tips in the meantime: 

  • Drink a little less. Your nightly glass of wine has gotten you through the past two decades but it might be nice to skip it a few nights per week and see what happens. 
  • Exercise a little more. You don't have to kill yourself in bootcamp if it's not your thing but maybe walking is. Or yoga. Or kickboxing circuit training (which I randomly just discovered and love).
  • Unplug more. Ugh, I know it's so cliche but I have to include it because we just don't do it. We say we will and we don't. Get off social media when you can. Talk to your kids and your parents and your friends more. Read. Go outside. Breathe. Alone. In a quiet room. 
  • Make a budget. Take a real hard look at your monthly expenses, goals for the future, etc and figure out what you can tweak when it comes to career and money-making. Maybe it's working less. Maybe it's starting a side hustle doing something you love. Maybe it's working more...but with a clear new goal in mind that helps motivate you through your days. And then do not be afraid to make the change accordingly. Change is not your enemy, it is your friend. It's one of my best friends, actually. 
  • Track your cycle. If yours is anything like mine right now, it's intense. Tracking it helps me recognize when PMS is headed my way or why I may feel insanely bloated one day or so exhausted I can't wake up on another. It also helps me warn my husband. Because he needs it. 
  • Lose the guilt. It's been around long enough now. You don't have to feel bad for not doing enough or for failing at something or for someone else's issues. We're too old for that now. We have serums to worry about. Don't cook for the bake sale. Don't take on that new account. Don't feel bad that you ate the bread. 
  • Do something for yourself. Every day. Reflexology is a new favorite of mine. Buying a book is always good. A pedicure. A workout. A blog post. Ten minutes in the car by yourself, listening to your favorite song on repeat. A cookie. Every day. Just one thing. 
  • Speak up. This post is my way of doing it. Not just for me, but hopefully for you as well. Tell a friend or your mom or your husband what's on your mind. Ask for advice. Ask for reassurance. Ask them if they feel the same. It may feel like it doesn't lead anywhere but I promise you it will. If not because of them, because of you. And that alone makes it worth it.  

Thanks for taking the time to read. I know this was a long one. xx 

 

The power of yes

Have dessert first