Fifty: it’s MY birthday

I’m 50 years old today.  Some of my friends assumed I was 50 a while ago, others have teased me by asking, “Are you ever going to turn 50 and catch up to the rest of us?” and of course my daughter is happy to name other moms who are older than me but look younger.  Now that I’ve arrived, however, this big birthday seems to be worth all the fuss.

Fifty feels more like MY birthday than 40 did.  I turned 40 amidst the hubbub of school-aged kids, pausing between math tests and basketball games to blow out my candles.  But now, two of my children are in college and the third one will be leaving in a year and a half.  So I’ve stopped organizing my days around kid doctor visits and afternoon carpools.  I’m back to counting years by my own age, not by the ages of my children.  Now that my child-rearing job is winding down, I get to look for my next gigue, explore options for something I can throw myself into with passion and energy.

That describes the good days, of course.  On the bad days my knee hurts, I can’t remember the name of someone I’ve known for years, and the print on labels shrinks and goes fuzzy.   I miss having children in the house, miss feeling needed, miss having a role like “mom” that imparts purpose to my life.

As my Austrian friend Andrea might say, I survey age 50 with “one laughing eye and one crying eye.”  There’s a lot to celebrate, but ignoring the sad parts devalues the happier times.  Having lived through hard days helps me appreciate the easy ones.  Designers are right about more than aesthetics when they offer the advice that vivid colors “pop” if put you put them against a black background.

At 50, I’ve lived more than half my statistical allotment of years here on Earth.  On the other hand, I may just be reaching the halfway point of adulthood.  It’s time to stop looking inward — mourning my youthful independence, my child-raising years, the career I put aside for other priorities.  And to start looking outward — to see where I can contribute to something bigger than myself.

My tennis coach reminds me to “turn the camera around” and watch what my opponent is doing so I can anticipate what kind of ball will be coming for me to hit.  The point is to notice what’s happening outside my control, and to prepare for my next move, my next shot.  I want to look forward to another thirty, forty or more years of life — but more than that, I want to keep looking outward, to keep looking towards the future.

So I remember the past fifty years, grateful for my family, friends and the experiences that have shaped my journey thus far.  At the same time, my intention for the next phase is to continue watching and learning.  Most of all, I plan to keep moving forward.

I’m counting on you, my friends, to hold me accountable.  Ready, set, go!

With my sister on our way to church. Not hard to tell us apart!


  1. Happy birthday Anne! Indulge, celebrate & luxuriate…you deserve it!

  2. Happy Birthday Anne!

  3. Happy Birthday!

  4. Happy Birthday, Anne!

  5. There’s so much I relate to in that article. And not just b/c I’m the same age, but I’m in the same emotional place (even though my child is younger than yours). Thanks for it.

  6. Beautiful post, Anne! Happy Birthday !

  7. Happy, Happy, Anne! Wishing you a wonderful day and year ahead. xo

  8. Happy birthday Anne!

  9. Happy 50th Anne!

  10. Happy birthday!

  11. Anne – Happy Birthday – I had no idea you are 50- Fooled me – I thought Rico married a younger woman and since I don’t admit to 50 – something has to be wrong on the math side. Seriously reading your blog reminds me from the other side of 50 how much I now love this adventure! It’s our time (well with the exception of the adult children crisis that pop up after midnight in any time zone!) and it’s a lot of fun…. enjoy … and we’ll compare notes! Best to Rico and the kids too… but a special happy 50th to you – Phil & Janis!

  12. Happy Birthday Anne!

  13. You are a kid!!! Happy b-day Anne
    Thanks to you I am taking another class at Stanford!!

  14. Happy birthday!

  15. Happy Birthday! Enjoy.

  16. Happy Birthday! I enjoyed your article and I look forward to hearing about future adventures/endeavors. 🙂

  17. Happy Birthday Anne! Go enjoy it in style!

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