For My 40th Birthday

For my 40th birthday, my husband asked me how I wished to celebrate that big moment.  For his 40th, I planned a large party for 50 people, where we had a series of short competitions.  If you’ve ever seen the game show, Minute-to-Win-It, or if you’ve ever been in his youth group, (or any other,) then you have the general gist.  There were hula hoops and toilet paper being thrown and rapid fire watermelon eating and so much more.  We had a blast!
Did I want something like that?  Nope.
A 40th birthday comes with a big perk and I didn’t want to use it that way.  When you ask someone to do something with you for their 40th, or their wedding, or something else big, it carries extra weight.  We become more inclined to say yes, when getting a sitter, or being outside of our comfort zone, or needing to save money for it, might normally make us say no.
For my 40th, I wanted to soak up time with my people, but just a few people at a time.  Large groups leave me feeling a little empty, because the conversations stay on the surface.  And I wanted to get my favorite people to do things they wouldn’t normally do.  If I pulled the 40th birthday card, they would rally for me.  So I told Eric I am going to plan my time to celebrate with different people.  He didn’t need to do a thing.  Other than say yes
My 40th started small.  On my actual birthday, I told my little family of four what I wanted, ‘for my 40th,’ was to go to the water park during the day and then get a sitter and have just my husband and myself go out to dinner.  We could do this any day, really, because we have passes to the water park, but we don’t do it often.  And we went to a nicer dinner than ‘where do we have gift cards to?’ but it was sorta the same idea.  We could do this anytime, but we don’t do it enough.
Then I said to my parents, ‘for my 40th,’ I want us to go ziplining.  And we did!  And I’m here to report that the trees really do sway a lot more than you think when you are that high up.  It made me wonder, ‘What’s the point of a great harness, if you are hooked in to a tree that falls?’  Yikes!  Maybe I’m more of a rock climbing girl. But I would do it again to see my cute little mommy swing through the trees with glee.

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I also got my sister-in-law to watch the kids so I could also have an adult day, too, at the water park with my brother.  I don’t regret that one bit, but be warned, going down on an inner-tube flanked on either side by 200 lb men will shoot you really high.  Like pee-in-your-swimsuit-a-little-bit kind of high.  Of course, I’m not admitting that my bladder is empty in this selfie.

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But one of the things I wanted most, ‘for my 40th,’ was sleepovers.  I love being married and having two kids, but I do miss those days with college roommates, every now and then.  I wanna share make-up tips wearing my jammies and tell stories of misadventures that make you laugh so hard you start to tear at the corner of your eyes.  And I want to do it with real friends that you don’t feel embarrassed to be around when your mascara runs.  So I had sweet overnights with friends from Washington and California, with women I miss dearly now that we don’t live as close.
Of course, this didn’t all happen in August last year.  It took all year.  At one point my husband said, ‘I made a mistake with my 40th.  I should have done it your way because you are partying all year.’  We laughed, knowing he was right.  I was living it up!  Over the course of the year, I had started to say ‘For my 40th,’ for all kinds of things… Usually I would crawl into bed and lean over with a sneaky smile and say ‘hey, next week, for my 40th, can I … go walk on the beach, meet a friend for a book signing, host women for dinner,..’ and so on.
Then one day, Eric said standing in our kitchen, with an oddly similar sneaky smile, ‘For my 40th, can I go to Tahoe to do a Tough Mudder race?’  Oh how we laughed because he was already 45 and there was no birthday for him in sight.  And then I said yes.
But something new had happened between us just then.  Something clicked.  Or maybe a better way to say it is, we pivoted.  We both started saying ‘yes’ more.  We said yes to each other.  And we also said yes to ourselves.  We said yes, even when the excuse to say no was there, with savings or time or inconveniences.  We have just this one life with heaven coming faster than expected and we want us both to leave filled up with memories of moments worth having.
Back in May, I came home from work and Eric was home early, and right when I walked in he blurted out, ‘I have this crazy idea,’ and I interrupted him and said ‘YES.’  He looked at me with eyes I’ll never forget… big, round, delighted eyes.  ‘Really,’ he said, ‘you haven’t heard it yet?!
Doesn’t matter… it already sounds good.’  The night ended with a book store in LA and a croinut in my belly.  Pretty wonderful!!

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And a sweet memory of my husband’s happy eyes.  I want those eyes… on him… in me.  We are a team, saying yes to dreams, and crazy ideas, and doing things we don’t do enough, more often. 
That’s the gift my 40th gave me.  Saying Yes.
Today, I am wishing myself a most happiest 41st birthday, but it’s not an end of an era.  The 40th lives on in my marriage, and in me, and I’m wishing it for you too, whatever your age.
Sending love,
PS – If you know of a good tattoo artist in LA that does nice thin lined script, I’ll take the recommendation… I have a little project, ‘for my 40th.’
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Comments: 3

  1. Cher August 10, 2017 at 2:54 pm Reply

    I loved this article! So sweet and such an example of what a marriage should be. Love to you both ?

  2. John August 10, 2017 at 5:02 pm Reply

    Such a wonderful and portentous word is “yes.” Happy birthday, Jeanine. Much love to your family but keep most of it for yourself today, yes?

  3. Kelsey November 2, 2017 at 6:56 am Reply

    Love this. Say yes and live life to the fullest ❤And love the all year of bday celebrations! My kinda bday! 😂

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