“I’m OK about turning 40. I mean, there’s certain things I want to tick off, but it’s just a number, it’s just another day.”
Kathy looks contemplative.
“By 30, I wanted to be married, have a house, and have a kid – or at least one in the pipeline. I was pregnant on my 30th birthday, so I though perfect, I’m all set. But then by 40, I now think I want to make sure I’m happy, because this is probably the rest of my life now.” She laughs.
She got divorced last year, and tells me it was like a reset button. She says: “I mean, it is just a number. It’s more important to me now to be happy in my own skin, and be happy with turning 40 and where I am so far. I’ve got my house, and I have my daughter.”
Kathy’s been self-employed for the last four years, although a few years ago didn’t think she’d have the guts to do it. She also didn’t think she’d be divorced, and maybe thought she’d be a stay at home mum. “I’m happy I’m where I am though, rather than where I thought I’d be at this age. At 30 I thought I was a grown-up, by 40 I’m like a real grown up. There’s no one going to come in and rescue me now, I look around for the grown ups but realise it’s me.”
Approaching the big 4-0 saw Kathy want to make some changes to her life. She says: “I wanted to be in the best shape of my life, and take more responsibility for my body. Better diet, drink more water, that kind of thing.”
She was supposed to do the London Marathon last year but COVID and the UK lockdown have pushed that goal back to 2022. She also signed up to some online workouts to get toned and fit. She says: “I want people to to look at me and think ‘she’s not bad for 40’. I’m going grey rapidly, and I look in the mirror or see a photo and think god you look old”. She laughs. “But I tell myself you are nearly 40 now, you are getting older. You realise you’re not in that young people category anymore, like when you move up the age category boxes on a form.”
Kathy’s hair is in bunches, and she tells me her daughter asked her if a 39 year old can wear bunches. She told her ‘well, I feel like it, so yes!’ She says: “It’s funny, in my 30’s I was quite self conscious of how I dressed, like I didn’t quite fit in with the ‘older’ clothes, or the younger stuff. But now, I feel comfortable in my own skin and just wear what I like, rather than dressing ‘appropriately’ for my age. What even is that anyway?”
We talk about how changing that first digit from a 3 to a 4 is the difference between young and old. She says: “I guess because you view being over 40 as being a way off for such a long time, you do group it into a different age bracket. 39 is definitely seen as different to 40.”
Being single again after 15 years approaching 40 was a change for Kathy. She says: “I thought I might be too old to meet anyone, but that’s not the case. I have a new partner now, from that second-timer group of people, the ones who have already had the kids and the first marriages haven’t worked out. I’m glad I didn’t have to put 40 on my dating profile though, I think I would’ve been cut off by a lot of people. It’s a new world out there now!”
“I do honestly feel like I still have so much time ahead, and as our kids get older we can go and do all the things still to come. Fifty’s the next one isn’t it?” She laughs. “That’s when you’re really old! Mind you, I think my Mum feels worse about telling people she has a 40 year old daughter than she does saying she’s 70!”