Guest Post: Tonya Cunningham

Thanks to my older son, I met my good friend Tonya three years ago. Our sons were in the same pre-school class together and became fast friends. At a Mother’s Day tea in the boys’ classroom, Tonya and I had a chance to talk and found we shared many interests including writing and purposeful parenting. Since that tea we’ve shared stories, as well as many glasses of tea, coffee and wine. I’m thankful for Tonya’s sincerity, her way of being in the world, the questions she asks and the friendship we’ve created. Tonya, I’m grateful and proud that you shared your thoughts on 40 (from your journal) here with us at Motherlogue.

—————–

Well, I’m 41 now, and both the panicked and incredulous feelings I experienced over the prospect of turning 40 have significantly mellowed.  For this reason, I’ve decided to recapture those feelings and share with you the raw emotions I spilled out onto my journal on the day that I turned 40.

I appreciate how others have opened up to me, by reaching into their memories, and sharing their very personal feelings on turning 40.   So now I’m opening my journal for you…

“I actually have silence, so I can hear my mind!  I finally gave up and put H in front of a Snoopy movie, V is at a birthday party with D, and J is taking a nap.  Looking out at my daffodils and…  OH NO!  I heard Miss J say ‘Mommy!’  Can I please just get at least another few minutes to write!?  OK, some QUICK thoughts on turning 40…

I feel like the most wonderful years of being pregnant and mothering babies have past, and I loved every moment of it. I loved feeling half asleep and in a dream world saturated in motherhood, full and blooming and in touch with Mother Earth herself. Now I feel like I’m moving into the next phase. Like I have to choose again- what do I want to do? What do I want to be when I grow up again? But this time it’s- what do I enjoy- what makes me happy? In my precious free time, I’ll watch to see what I am drawn to do…Poetry, photography, finding vintage cards in thrift shops and sending them to friends, beach combing, books, ‘junking,’ pottery, sitting in silence…

I’ve decided to NOT put any time into doing things I don’t enjoy… well, as much as possible.  I’ll go to places that aren’t too stressful or inconvenient.  I’ll volunteer for things that truly interest me.  I won’t go to events that fill me with anxiety.  I’m going to stop trying to please and be nice to everyone.  I’m going to enclose myself more, and nurture the friendships and family members who have shown me they care.  I’ll forgive the ones who disappoint.

The women in my family found their true careers, their passions in life… a music teacher, a first grade teacher, a park ranger, well past their 40th birthdays.  My older friends laugh that they can’t even remember turning 40.  How much happier they are now, ‘freer!’ they tell me.  I picture my great-aunt with her glorious silver hair, smoking her Salem Lights, eating ice milk with Hershey’s syrup and smiling with wisdom. Don’t worry about how much you think you should have already accomplished, your time will come, look at what you are doing NOW, be proud of yourself- we are!

I need to remind myself every day, of that time at the beach. When, while looking into the sun sparkling silver on the waves, I felt the overwhelming joy of knowing that the reason I am here and living is to enjoy and experience every moment. Adventure! (Venice, Carmel) Love! (my family) Hope! (my writing.) Feelings of disappointment and self doubt are thoughts I allow into my mind. I have control over those thoughts. Don’t dwell in deep sadness and self pity.  Choose JOY. 

So J is truly awake- time to go about the daily chores… laundry, being a referee for my fighting boys, a cook- meal planning on a finite budget, a social director, a house keeper, a wife, mother, daughter, and friend.  I’ll find time to remember the joy.  I’ll try not to let the melancholy overtake me.  If I don’t like something, it’s up to me to change it!  I’m 40 years old.”

The next day my Dad sent me a quote from Woody Allen to put it all into perspective, “What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.”

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3 Responses to Guest Post: Tonya Cunningham

  1. Tonya, what a beautiful post! Thanks for opening up your journal for us to see and experience the transition with you. I really love the picture of your great-aunt and the idea of “enclosing” yourself. What a lovely way to put it: not cloistered but stealing away for a bit of solitude and perspective. We all need that. So glad you added your voice to this amazing month!

  2. Julie S says:

    “If I don’t like something, it’s up to me to change it! I’m 40 years old.”

    —Love it. Thank you for sharing with us!

  3. tonya says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. This was my first post on a blog, so thank you for the encouragement!

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