In my 40s, I’m going to worry less and enjoy life more

In my 40s, I’m going to worry less and enjoy life more

By Hilary Thorpe

In May I turned 40. My partner, Ty, and I were planning a trip to Europe to celebrate. Instead, in lockdown, he ordered take-out and he and our kids got dressed up, set the table, lit candles and waited on me as though we were in a restaurant.

On the wall behind me, a sign said, “Happy 40th birthday, HILARY!” in rainbow colours, the product of a week of “home-school” in Ty’s woodshop where he had set up our kids with an enormous piece of paper and some paint. They even made my name into an acrostic(əˈkrôstik) poem: Hilarious(həˈlerēəs), Imaginative(iˈmaj(ə)nədiv), Loving, Amazing, Resolute(ˈrezəˌl(y)o͞ot), Yay(yā) mom! (They may have had help with R.)

Birthdays don’t usually bother me, but I had a lot of anxiety leading up to 40. It seemed like an age at which I would know what I was doing. Instead, I’ve failed to achieve most of my goals, both large and small. I did not become a professor. I’m still on a term contract in my job with Parks Canada. I’m only on chapter four of a book I’ve been wanting to write for years. I can’t touch my toes(tō) without bending my knees. I have never been able to do a cartwheel(ˈkärtˌ(h)wēl).

When Ty and I met 20 years ago in a tree-planting camp in Northern Ontario(änˈterēˌō), he was working in Canada in the summers and spending the winters in Guatemala(ˌɡwädəˈmälə). He had built a small house there and thought(THôt) he might stay, live the expat(ˌeksˈpat) life. Instead, after we got together, he went back to school, got a master’s degree, found a real job and got promoted.

Ty never feels like a failure. He had no grand idea of what he would do with his life and it’s turned out better than he expected.