I heard a term the other day: “fierce in your 40s.” Yes, I thought, mentally giving myself a high five. I am Fierce!
The euphoria lasted for a few minutes. I felt lighter, younger, and there was a skip to my step.
“Mommy. Mommy! MommyMommyMommyMommyMommy! You’re not listening to me!”
Euphoria, zero. Reality, one.
I spent my 20s and early 30s getting married, building a career, and enjoying my freedom. I am now in my early 40s, mother to a nine-year-old and seven-year-old twins. I am part of a growing trend. According to statistics out of the CDC, women in their 30s are having more babies than those in their 20s. The fiercest I feel is when my inner Mama Bear is unleashed.
I have Facebook friends who are fierce. They are constantly posting pictures of themselves dressed to the hilt, dining in fancy restaurants, dancing in clubs. They spend their weekends whisking off to exotic locations. The last restaurant I ate in? McDonald’s. The last club I was in? I have no idea, it’s been that long. The last exotic destination? Disneyland (which was pretty awesome).
My Facebook page? It is full of all things parenting. It is also inundated with ads for wrinkle creams, weight loss gimmicks, and exercise regimes for belly fat, a weak pelvic floor, and an aging metabolism.
Underneath my bathroom sink is a graveyard of partially used anti-aging creams (cue the Facebook ads). Eye creams, line erasers, day creams, night creams, sunscreen, brightening serum. All promising to firm, rejuvenate, micro sculpt, soften, smooth, and lift. I keep buying new ones, hoping that one will finally deliver what it promises. Fierce in my 40s looks like a tired, older, wrinklier version of the 25-year-old who still resides in my head.
It also looks like yoga pants and running shoes. I don’t run. I sometimes do yoga. I was way cooler in my 30s. I was fashionable. I wore yoga pants for working out, not going out. I swore I would never be seen outside the gym or my house wearing them. Then I hit my 40s. Sure, I still wear high heels, smear on some lipstick, rock a skinny jean or two. But if I have a choice between flats and stilettos? Sweat pants and skinny jeans? I’ll take comfort over style. If you happen to see me in Target, I’ll be the one strolling among the aisles, sipping my decaf Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks, sporting stretchy leggings and Uggs.
My iBooks account? It is populated with a plethora of books on healthy living: “The Happiness Project,” “Body By You,” “Brave Enough,” “The Little Book of Hygge.” There is also a substantial collection of healthy eating books: “The Whole 30,” “The Wild Diet,” “Oh She Glows,” “Crazy, Sexy Juice.” Fierce in my 40s looks like trying to make this body, mind, and spirit survive and thrive for another 40 years. It’s about doing damage control for all the abuse I hurled on my body in my 20s and 30s when I mistakenly believed I was invincible. It’s about maintenance. So much maintenance. Oh, and hair removal.
My Instagram account? Yes, I have one. Do I post on it? Almost never. Fierce in my 40s looks like being behind the camera, not in front of it. It looks like not being able to take a decent selfie no matter how hard I try.
It is true that I may not always look fierce like my Facebook counterparts. I may not be all about the glitz and the glamor. However I’ve realized that being fierce in your 40s is so much more than Botox and electrolysis.
Fierce is hitting your 40s and no longer wasting inordinate amounts of time worrying about what other people think of you. Someone doesn’t like you? It’s okay. That’s their story, not yours.
Fierce is finally knowing the saying “You do you and I’ll do me,” and living it.
Fierce is ignoring that side eye look from the stranger in the grocery store while you’re shopping with your kids and knowing that you are a good parent, regardless.
Fierce is setting boundaries and saying no, and not feeling guilty about it.
Fierce is spending more time doing what you love and less time doing what you don’t. It’s knowing what you love and not being afraid to ask for it, seek it, or take it.
Fierce is having your tweenager want to look just like you, leggings and all.
Fierce is choosing your people and letting the rest of them go. The ones who celebrate you – your quirks and your foibles – and love you, not in spite of them, but because of them.
Fierce is knowing life is fleeting, and finding new ways of living it.
Fierce is having more questions than answers and reveling in searching for the truth.
Fierce is knowing yourself enough to know what is important to you, who you want to be, and how you want to live, regardless of what the world tells you.
Fierce is accepting that the little roll around your belly, leftover from your pregnancy days, is likely not going to go away, no matter how many crunches you do, and being okay with it.
Fierce is realizing that bravery doesn’t come without fear. Joy doesn’t come without sorrow. Love doesn’t come without loss. But in the end, it is all worth it.
Fierce is knowing that forgiving others is so much more for your own sake, not theirs.
Fierce is wisdom gained and grace and good manners. It is being accepting, loving, and nonjudgmental, because you realize in your 40s, that you really don’t know everything. There are so many shoes that you haven’t walked in. So many lives that you haven’t lived.
Fierce is having an opinion but being open to the opinions of others.
Fierce is finally learning to love yourself enough to do the work to get there.
You, like me, may go to bed at 9 p.m., drive an SUV, and throw your back out when you sneeze, but dang it, You Are Fierce. And there is nothing like being fierce in your 40s. Except maybe being fabulous in your 50s.