Every year when one of my kids turns another year older, I write them a letter about what they’re like at that moment. It’s like a time capsule full of words, so they can read about themselves many years from now, remember the little things they’ve forgotten, and hear their mother’s voice. Max’s birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, so I’ve already started jotting notes on a page titled “You are 9 years old today.”
But today I’m doing something a little different. Today, I write about me.
You are forty years old today. Yes. You.
First of all, you are using Calibri at 18 points, because that’s what feels good right now. For someone who loves white space, you are realizing small print is overrated. You should apologize to all those clients you rolled your eyes at for asking to make everything bigger.
Your favourite colour is blue. Maybe because you grew up by the ocean, or because it reminds you of your father’s eyes. Maybe it just looks damn good with red hair.
But no blue pens, please. Black ink only up in here. And unlined paper. With no wrinkles.
You are not a diva.
You love bubble baths. You will take a bubble bath in the sketchiest of hotel rooms. You’ve yet to find a bath soap that makes a satisfactory amount of bubbles. The smell of that pink bubble bath from Avon reminds you of your nan.
Your secret crush is Dave Letterman.
Tina Fey is your best friend but she doesn’t know it yet.
If you could go to dinner with anyone, it’d be Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
If you were a chocolate bar, you’d be a Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut, Dark.
You love trivia but you’re mediocre at best. You’ve been watching Jeopardy since you were a child.
You don’t drink enough water.
Your favourite song is Travellin’ by Matt Mays. But your favourite band of all time is The Bangles. (Girl band!) You sing Eternal Flame to your kids at bedtime.
At your bachelorette party in 2008, you thought you had performed Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis at Karaoke Kops but it was actually I Touch Myself by The Divinyls. Ironically you were wearing a shirt and no pants, because you thought it was a dress.
Your favourite movies are Life Is Beautiful, and Bridesmaids. Similar plots.
You love to read but you read like a snail and worry that your life will be too short for all the books. You just finished Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind Of Girl” and Lindy West’s “Shrill” and now you’re reading Luvvie Ajayi’s “I’m Judging You” and you need to buy Sharon Bala’s “The Boat People” and Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s new novel “Hysteria” ASAP.
Your favourite book is “How To Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran.
Your favourite children’s book is “The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein. Should be required reading for everyone, not just kids.
You have a 20-year-old mattress that is probably 30 pounds heavier than when you bought it because of all the dead skin. You should probably be concerned.
You enjoy folding clothes. This surprises even you.
You cried during every episode of the new Queer Eye. You need more gay men in your life.
You have 16 pairs of Levis. You scored a vintage Levis jean jacket at a thrift store in Halifax in 1997 but have no idea where it is now and it still hurts.
Your last meal would be boiled cod, mashed potatoes, crab legs, macaroni and cheese, sweet corn on the cob, and a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade from the Midwest.
You can’t go to the movies and not eat the outrageously overpriced popcorn.
Your ass is 100% juicy white meat. You’re thankful for high-waisted jeans.
You had a hernia repaired a year ago and the stitches inside you have not yet dissolved. You should probably be concerned.
Your hair is bright red, but not the red you were born with. You work hard and will have what you want, god damn it.
You have worked at m5 for almost 18 years but still learn something new every day. Sometimes that something is that you you’re still spelling weiner wrong.
You’re easily bored, so advertising works for you. You get to solve business problems to help local companies thrive and charities do good in the world. You also get to sniff jumbo markers. It’s okay — you’re creative, they expect you to be weird.
This past fall you went to NYC for a conference for women in advertising. It was a two-day lesson in privilege, and made you realize how lucky you were to be there at all.
You are your own worse critic. You are never 100% happy with your work because you know it could be so much better. It’s okay – this is how great work gets made. Keep pushing, you stupid idiot.
You are way smarter than you think.
You are an activist at heart. The “Patriarchy Got Me Drove” t-shirt you wrote for the St. John’s Status of Women Council has become a catchphrase and a rallying cry for local feminists.
It’s okay to be angry sometimes.
You are a new board member for the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. You’ve always dreamed of watching movies and smashing the patriarchy at the same time.
You emceed the International Women’s Day event for the Gander Women’s Centre this year. You told the crowd that you called your parents’ Ford Taurus the Ford Clitoris. Your dad could never find where he parked it.
You are fearless when it matters. You won’t jump from a bungee cord, but you’ll speak up against bullshit like pro-lifers and misogynist twats.
You’ve been flagged by at least one political campaign for being a loudmouth liberal. This is one of your greatest accomplishments.
You tweeted about Coleman’s seal pelts once and sales went gangbusters so they gave you a free pelt and some chocolate to say thanks.
You are emceeing an event by The Designers in May featuring Terry O’Reilly in conversation with Ted Blades. Local designer MJ Couch is making you a dress for the occasion. You told her to make the dress brown in case you shit yourself.
You are a good mom. You’re often impatient, irritable, and lazy, but your kids are turning out pretty amazing so keep up the good work.
You are a wife of some kind. You’re sometimes irritable and preoccupied, but you’re loyal as hell. Your husband is patient, kind, adventurous, and very horny. Keep up.
You are a shitty cook. You set off the smoke alarm more than you’d like to admit.
You don’t blog much anymore because you’re too busy making friggin’ snacks.
Most of your pants don’t fit anymore. You blame Netflix. #Netflab
Part of you wants to give away all your possessions and go live in the woods. But… bubble baths.
You love nature, but one night of camping calls for 8,000 wet wipes.
You’d die without hand lotion and Blistex.
You stopped biting your nails recently but god do they look delicious.
You swear a lot.
Your bedroom is a dumpster fire.
When you walked into a room, you used to wonder if people liked you; now you wonder if you’ll like them.
You used to want to be desired; now you want to be respected.
You have so many smart people in your life. You plan to squeeze every ounce of goodness out of them.
When you say you’re going to show up, you do.
You lost your dog in September. You stroked her belly until the end. It was one of the saddest moments of your life, but knew exactly what to do.
You don’t run away from the hard stuff.
You’ve had the same handful of friends since elementary school. You got blitzed together over Christmas and it was amazing. There’s a certain ease when you’re with the ones who know way too much.
Some of your closest friends are at work. Like ya would, after 18 years. Your work team gave you a hilarious 40th birthday cake with a picture on the front of you on the balance beam, which was actually a picture of you drunk on the grass at the boss’s cabin. This is the danger of friends with mad photoshop skills.
You had your birthday supper at The Fish Exchange. You and Rae split a seafood platter. Max tried five new things and now you owe him $25.
Your mother-in-law cooked you a birthday meal. Your request was stew and you’re not ashamed of it. Stew is an art.
On Good Friday, you had a birthday party at the house. You served a bunch of meat. God was pissed.
You don’t believe in God but your kids can believe whatever they want.
Life is about freedom and choice.
You wish you had more money to travel, and buy art, and buy cheese that’s already grated.
You already buy the grated cheese because you don’t give a fuck.
You’re finding it a little hard to believe you’re 40, until you look at your naked ass in the mirror and then it all makes sense.
You’re determined to not worry about aging; it’s a privilege denied to many. Besides, being upset about turning 40 would be an insult to 90% of the women you most admire. You are now in an exclusive club of some mighty fine broads.
It took you two weeks to write this hot mess. You’re busier than a dog with two dicks. If you stop doing things, you’ll probably die. So just keep going.
I love you.