I remember when the streetlights were our curfew. Birthday parties were held in backyards, ‘doorbell ditch’ was the most unkind game we entertained and running after the ice cream truck like a pack of wolves, screaming and waving our money in the air—only for the driver to stop a block later—were some of my favorite moments from childhood. Sundays usually involved a double-feature Bruce Lee movie at a downtown cinema in San Francisco. Our mother would fill a backpack full of popcorn, candy, and pop and for four hours, our tribe of cousins, sisters and brothers watched every kick, flip and acrobatic nunchaku move. On the way home, baby Bruce Lees were born as we re-enacted every move (including my favorite the lip-sync before the English voice-over). Holidays turned into a home version of “Star Search” as the kids became the evening entertainment, singing, dancing, reciting poetry and doing impressions of the adults in our family. My ponytail days are unforgettable, deeply cherished and gone too soon.
This month I turn forty. When I close my eyes it seems like it wasn’t so long ago that I sat on a step stool listening to stories of my mother’s “girl days” while she did my hair—going off to prom, falling in love for the first time, heading off to college or dancing until the sun came up. As each year carried me further away from my youth, time went unnoticed as I found myself consumed in the present and seldom looking back. Each decade yielded so many lessons: milestones, heartaches and inevitably a wiser, more mature “me”. Now, it’s harder not to notice time going by as I take mascara to my grays in an attempt to recapture my thirty year old self. These grays serve as a reminder to appreciate my here and now, in the midst of this amazing adventure of being mommy, wife, friend, daughter, sister—a better, more well-rounded version of the youthful me.
Forty isn’t frightening now that I’m standing on its doorsteps. In my twenties , though, that wasn’t the case—Forty was an old and undesirable age. I recall my friends and I chatting about it, “who would want to be forty”? It was a concept that we couldn’t wrap our minds around because our twenties would last forever. Our parents were in their forties. Now I hear Jacob, my seventeen year old son, having similar conversations with his friends. Occasionally he will just blurt out “Mom, you’re old!” during lively conversation. Sometimes I attempt to defend my youth, but other times I just laugh, thinking to myself “one day you’ll get here…”
I’m welcoming forty with my best self. I look back on my life with gratitude and love for days gone by. I wouldn’t change a single experience as each has aided in my emotional, physical and spiritual development. While my mini skirt days are behind me, ahead of me I have first heart-breaks to mend, graduations to attend, weddings to plan, grandchildren to welcome, and words of comfort and wisdom to share. It just gets better from here.
A’sonda Adams is an Oakland East Bay “stay at home” Mom and shares her home with her husband, Will, and children, Jacob, Monet, Hannah and Maya.