I turned forty last month, and shortly after my birthday, I had an amazing conversation with some of my Sunday class regulars just after the class had ended.
(Incidentally, why are post-workout conversations so fabulous? Is it that we know we should be elsewhere, moving on with our day? Is it the rush of endorphins we get from moving our bodies that propels us to higher heights of dialogue? Is it the camaraderie we enjoy from a shared experience?)
Moving on …
The two women – one in her thirties and the other a few years older than I – were asking whether it felt different to be 40. I laughed and said everything happens gradually, and that technically I was just a week older than the last time they say, me.
But then I did admit to feeling a spiritual change taking place over the past few months.
“I just don’t care as much as a used to,” I explained and then quickly clarified, “Not in a bad way. Not like nothing matters anymore. It’s more like I know what matters to me now and I just don’t have the time or energy to give to other things.”
Granted, this could be as much a function of mothering three children as it is my chronological age, but something that Sara Gottfried, M.D. said in her book The Hormone Cure, makes me think that my chronological age has at least a little to do with it:
Dr. Louann Brizendine is a psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco who … (has) concluded that, in the service of the householder tasks—securing a mate and having children—the predictable hormonal changes of our fertile years drive women to be accommodating and nurturing. Some call this attitude the hormonal cloud or veil. Then we wake up in our forties (probably around two a.m.), convinced we want a divorce. We’re sick of all the needy, self-absorbed narcissists in our life; we’re tired as hell, and we need a break. We are primed and ready, anciently wired, to be forest dwellers. Once past the householder years, you become less interested in what other people think. You care less about your clothes and makeup, about your mother’s opinions on your hair, about offending others. Why? Your ovaries are making less estrogen, and estrogen is what makes you want to have babies, look pretty, and please people. Less estrogen means you stop accommodating people indiscriminately and perhaps finally blurt out what you’ve been meaning to say since you were twenty-five.