Penelope Cruz is 40. Kate Beckinsale is 41. Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Garner are 42. Jennifer Connelly is 43. Rachel Weisz, Heather Graham and Tina Fey are 44. Jennifer Aniston and Gwen Stefani are 45. Naomi Watts is 46. Halle Berry and Salma Heyak are 48. Sarah Jessica Parker is 49. Sandra Bullock is 50.
This is my newest obsession. Identifying beautiful, sexy, relevant women in their forties. The other night Mike was watching Blue Bloods when Bridget Moynahan appeared on the screen.
“How old is she?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Late thirties?” he answered.
“I’m gonna check.” Then I whipped out my phone and googled, as has become my standard protocol for ambiguously aged women in Hollywood.
“Bridgett Moynahan is 44!!!” I screamed triumphantly.
Somehow knowing Sofia Vergara is 42 and Jennifer Lopez is 45 makes me feel better about my own inability to remain in my thirties forever.
Last week, on November 24th, I turned 40.
Honestly, my plan was not to share that small fact on my blog. I don’t hide it from anyone in my real life, most of my real life friends are in their forties themselves, but on the blog, it felt different. This isn’t high school. We aren’t all here because we are the same age. Our commonality is the age of our kids.
In New York City, women tend to have kids a bit later. I am not the oldest mom in my daughters’ classes— far from it. In Mazzy’s kindergarten class, I might even be on the younger side because most of those women seem to have older kids in upper grades.
But I’m guessing most of my readers with young kids are in their low to mid-thirties. I’ve been afraid you guys will think I am OLD. Would OLD make me less relatable? Less cool? Less accomplished? Did you even think I was any of those things before? It seemed like I was exposing you to a character flaw or something.
Well, I’ve been forty for a week and you know what? Fuck it. I think I like it.
I wanted to tell you all because if you’re not 40 already, you’ll be turning 40 one day too. When you do turn forty, you should celebrate yourself in every way you know how. You should turn 40 with a BANG, not by hiding your vital stats from people who have followed you online for more than four years! You’ve earned it. You’re 40.
My husband asked me early on if I wanted a party or a trip for my birthday. After careful thought, I chose party. I figured, there will be other trips, but there will never be another 40th birthday party.
Luckily, Mike had my friend Little Miss Party in his pocket and I let them run with it. That’s what soon-to-be 40-year-olds do— they trust people they’ve known for years to do things and know micromanaging every last detail will make it less fun.
I invited 20 of my closest friends to dinner. We rented out Little Owl’s venue space for the occasion. The friends who attended were from all walks of life. My best friends from college, my old work partner, a fellow blogger, our downstairs neighbors, friends I’ve made through my husband, a couple preschool parent friends, my sister and brother-in-law.
The party was intimate, the styling was understated, the food was delicious, the service was impeccable, the cake was oversized and the company was fabulous.
I loved watching all my friends get to know each other and realize they have plenty in common. For one thing, they are all awesome people and I am lucky to have each of them in my life.
My 40th birthday party felt like a grown-up affair and it was perfect. Thank you, Mike and Little Miss Party.
The following Monday was my actual birthday. One of my dearest friends, Emily has a birthday one day after mine (she turned 40 too) and it has always been our tradition to celebrate our birthdays together. A few weeks prior, to ensure we both weren’t sitting at our desks stewing in oldness on the big day, Emily put together a plan. We would both take off work and do a “Ladies Who Lunch” day.
Who are these ladies with their free time and their fabulous lunches? I have no idea. But a 40th birthday felt like the perfect excuse to try the moniker on for a day.
“Uptown or downtown?” Emily asked.
“Uptown,” I said. “Downtown is for kids.” I should know, I live there.
We went to Norma’s for a late breakfast, shopping at Bergdorf’s (I’d never been before), and then facials at the spa in the Peninsula Hotel.
At Norma’s, we scanned the menu of over-the-top breakfast items like nutella pancakes and peanutbutter waffle sandwiches with whipped cream. We had picked the place because we both share a legendary sweet tooth. Emily had been my longtime extreme dieting buddy up until a few years ago, when we both inexplicably got to a weight we are happy with, without even trying. (Something about not prioritizing food makes the pounds slip right off, FYI. Realizing you are never going to be a Size Zero is helpful too). For the first time in our lives, we were both in a place where we could eat anything we wanted off that menu without worrying about “ruining our diet” and falling into a shame spiral.
“It all sounds so sickeningly sweet, ” Emily said.
“I don’t know if it’s because I fear for the inevitable stomach ache or I just really don’t want it,” I agreed.
We opted for the light lemon pancakes.
“Oh God, we are old!”
No matter, the light lemon pancakes were delicious.
Bergdorf’s was next on the agenda (whose windows are always stunning this time of year)— we tried on tweed Chanel glasses just for the photo opportunity and Valentino dresses at a price point that could furnish my whole apartment.
Neither one of us bought anything. I always say I am going to treat myself to something designer and then when I see the prices, I think it’s absolutely ludicrous and can’t do it.
“I could buy my whole family their entire wardrobe for the next five years for the price of that Valentino cape coat!”
The cape coat did look fabulous though.
So no, we didn’t buy anything, but… we were taken seriously. We’re 40! We’re way more likely to have disposable income!
At the Peninsula for facials, we were not so lucky. You put a naked 40 year-old woman in a room with a spa technician and she can sell you on anything.
“You should get the caviar collagen mask because it prevents wrinkles and will help brighten the skin around your eyes.”
“That will be an additional $80.”
“It is ideal for mature skin.”
Did she just call my skin “MATURE”?
“OH GOD YES, GIVE ME THE CAVIAR COLLAGEN!!!!”
Let’s just call the facial “additionals” my reward for not using our mortgage money to buy the cape coat.
After the facials (and a nap in the relaxation room), Emily and I split up. I took the subway to my sister’s to pick up a present she bought me. When I arrived, I heard a little more activity behind the door than normal and “SURPRISE!!!” — Mike, Mazzy, Harlow, Poppy, Nonna, my sister, my brother-in-law and my nephew were all there to have birthday dinner from my favorite Italian takeout (Frank’s) and of course, CAKE.
Having your two girls sing “Happy Birthday to Mommy” is worth turning 40 ten times over.
That should have been the end of my birthday, but the next morning, Mike told me were going somewhere fancy for dinner.
“Like fancy fancy?”
He took me to a dinner show called Queen of the Night, which I had never heard of before, but I highly recommend. It’s like Eyes Wide Shut mixed with Cirque de Soleil mixed with Medieval Times. Truly adult fun.
If you are uncomfortable with people in their underwear making extreme eye contact while dangling from a ceiling with a whip in their hands, all while you sit at your table manhandling a lobster and bartering with the table next to you for a piece of their pig, THIS SHOW IS NOT FOR YOU. But if you are open to new experiences, you won’t be disappointed.
The show itself was only half the surprise though. Mike had schemed with Emily’s husband and they had arranged for us all to go together. Except they didn’t tell us until we saw each other walking towards the same table.
That’s Emily and I shrieking with excitement. Except we’re 40, so it was more like a silent open-mouthed scream, followed by an “I KNEW IT!!!!!”
Halfway through the meal with a nice buzz, a lobster in my belly, my husband and my dearest friends by my side, my adorable kids asleep at home and a ridiculous circus act going on above us, I said, “Can we do fun shit like this ALL THE TIME???”
Well, probably not all the time. The babysitting money would ensure I’d never be able to buy a Valentino cape coat. But maybe more often.
Could my forties actually be more fun?
Mike has never been one to pile on the romance, but he did so so good. Turning forty felt awesome. So awesome, I wanted to share it with you.
Now maybe when you start to approach your big 4-0, instead of dreading it, you’ll think— Mommy Shorts is 40 and she seems pretty cool with it.
If that doesn’t work, Drew Barrymore and Charlize Theron are turning 40 this year too.
Party Photos by Karilyn Sanders