Turning 40. Quite liberating, really.

Turning 30 hardly seemed like a big deal, but hitting the big 4-0 feels different. Such an exciting milestone as we are at the halfway mark of our lives. Kind of like a checkpoint.

What have I achieved? What else do I want to achieve? Am I happy? Am I living the life I want to live? Lots to contemplate.

As a mum of 6, birthdays signify two things. A party at home where I get to see friends and family all at one go that I normally don’t have time to meet with, and a day to myself where I can do whatever I want.

Icy cold beer, anyone?
We had a fabulous party over the weekend – good food (prepared by the hubs of course), great company and wonderful conversations. Which always leaves me knowing that I need to carve out more time to connect with the people I care about.

On my birthday itself, I had a whole day to spend as I pleased. Imagine that.

So what did I want to do?

Big decision.

I decided to get up real early to get the most out of the day.

I haven’t gotten up at 5.30 in many years, and I truly miss the mornings. The stillness and silence of the unbroken dawn. The promise of a new day ahead.

I put on my track shoes (ok, it was my daughter’s) and walked out the door. Breathing in the familiar smell of the morning brought back memories of my secondary school days. I used to wake up early before school and jog a few rounds around the condo. Now, I can barely jog for 10 minutes before running out of stamina, so I decided to go for a long walk.

There is something surreal about the morning air. It makes me feel alive. I should really do this more often.

Tranquility in nature

I made my way to the nature reserve and spent a few hours immersed in the beauty of nature. I need that every once in a while.

This year, I decided to spend the day with just 1 child. The bunch of them got me upset last year, so this time, #3 had the privilege of hanging out with mummy. Why her? Well, #1 has school, #2 & #4 would be badgering me to take them home soon enough, and I definitely wanted a break from having to care for the 2 younger ones.

We started off with a wonderful lunch at Alkaff Mansion as I love places with a bit of history. All that grandeur was not lost on #3 and she was a fine lunch companion. (Truth be told, I chose this place partly because we get 50% off with the Amex credit card. Doubly satisfying!)

Lobster Linguine. So good.

We spent a relaxing day shopping, laughing and having a swell time doing silly things. #3 is such a joy to hang out with as she is easy-going and doesn’t complain at all (hungry, tired, bored, none of that!) She was my fashion adviser and ensured that I bought more trendy styles.

It was nice just to allow myself a day with nothing on my mind. Everything could wait till tomorrow. I was going to put aside the to-do lists, paperwork, emails, kids’ logistics, upcoming plans and what-not cluttering my mind. It felt good having nothing to think or worry about (like a kid being left forgotten to be picked up). Bliss takes on a new meaning after having children!

Of course, dinner with the full force was a riotous affair as usual. I decided buffet was best as the kids could be fed and entertained with minimal effort on my part. The kids love Starz Restaurant at RWS, and since they were having a ‘kids eat free’ promotion, I went along with their choice.

I found a perfect way to keep Kate occupied throughout the meal. She had recently gotten inducted into our family’s love of crab, and spent a long time slowly digging out the flesh. #5 was also kept busy going back to the buffet table to fetch her 1 crab leg at a time (don’t ask me why it didn’t cross his mind to pile up a whole plate of it).

Hard Rock Hotel, RWS

It was one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a long time, and I was also immensely touched by their thoughtful gifts.

After the kids went off to bed, I had time to sit and reflect.

You know, it’s funny how life has turned out. When I was in my teens, I was not one of those girls who dreamed of having x number of kids. In fact, I remember wanting to be a nun! And there was another phase where I wanted to move to a remote place and be a farmer. I think the meaningless-ness of our rushed existence bothered me, and I was yearning for simplicity and authenticity.

I never had any goals of making tons of money, having a super career, living in a mansion, or marrying a tall, dark and handsome prince charming, like some of my friends had. I never ever imagined that one day I would have a brood of 6.

I just lived. I had great trust in God that everything would turn out fine and there would be nothing to worry about.

I am indeed thankful for all the blessings I have today. A basketful of children, supportive family, true friends, and great opportunities.

Gifts from the kids

Turning 40 doesn’t make me feel old. It makes me feel empowered. There is a sense of urgency of if not now, when?

When we were younger, fear or embarrassment stopped us from doing certain things. Now, I look forward to meeting the unknown face to face, and the encounters have usually left me the better for it.

One thing I need to do better is to guard my time well. Not to be afraid to say no to people or events which are not in alignment with my values. To know my priorities and let all else fall away.

For the past 15 years, my guiding mantra was efficiency. I didn’t have much choice because I had to get a lot done in the 24 hours I had. As such, kindness, gentleness and compassion were pushed aside. I was usually curt. Impatient.

I need to bring all of that, and more joy and humour back into my life.

The next decade looks very promising.

It is no more a time of searching, but of consolidating.

A time of being confident and pursuing with passion what I believe in.

A time of embracing and a time of giving.

A time to be me.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

2 Replies to “Turning 40. Quite liberating, really.”

  1. May you find the confidence to step into your destiny and pursue your heart's desire, Michelle。Happy birthday once again!

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