Into the Woods Living Deliberately

just notes from jennyalice

Jennifer Byde Myers

Jennifer Byde Myers
SF Bay Area, California, US
February 03
Jennifer Byde Myers is a writer, editor and parent of a child with autism. She has been writing since 2003 at, chronicling her family’s journey from diagnosis to daily living with her son’s special needs. She is a founder and editor of The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Her writing has been featured at, Dandelion, and in several books including My Baby Rides the Short Bus. Jennifer has been interviewed on NPR, most recently on Forum with Michael Krasny, and is a Must-Read Mom. She lives on the San Francisco peninsula with her supportive husband, two wily children and a dog named Gus. Follow her on Twitter at @jennyalice



Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 8, 2012 4:20AM

And Then I Was Forty

Rate: 16 Flag
My daughter had to count to one hundred tonight for her homework as part of the celebration of the 100th day of school. She also had to put one hundred things in a bag to share with her classmates. Candy would generally be her first choice, but we settled on little slips of paper of places we could think of that she has visited.

The list was pretty easy to come up with, which is a little surprising considering she's only five years old. And it's a good list, with lots of states and beautiful national parks, inspiring monuments and small and large towns spread across the country. It made me proud that we are showing her the world.

Of course every place on her list is a place on my list too, if I were to indulge myself the time to make such a list... and I was tempted to think of every little town my husband and I visited in Europe that one summer. What was so interesting to me is that so many of those places on my daughter's list were places we saw together for the first time.

and that made me smile, because I am only forty, and there's a lot more to do.

I am not ashamed of getting older. I don't really care much about crow's feet. I've been 'long in the tooth' for a long time, and this bust line needs industrial strength reinforcements no matter what age I am.

I have accomplished so much less than I thought I would have by this age, and I know because I still have the lists I made when I was twenty and life was spread out before me. All I needed was a pen and some college-ruled notebook paper and I was in charge of my destiny. With a scribble I planned three children and graduate school, trips around the world, and a vegetable garden; I would learn to can my own food.

Once life got rolling it was hard to stop, and no little list is going to dictate when you actually fall in love any way.  There were subsequently no plans for things like a broken leg, or home repairs. My list did not have a six year gap between having my children, and no one had a wheelchair repair scheduled annually.

But I am finished with those lists, because I have done so much more than I thought I could that it is really hard to be disappointed. I have experiences in my life that my little 20-year-old self couldn't imagine if she tried, and they haven't all been great, but I am better for them. I am a much stronger, funnier, capable woman than I had imagined I'd be. I am less restless, and more adventurous. I love more deeply than I ever thought possible.

and I'm not afraid like I was when I was younger, worried I would never get a chance to check off each thing on those lists.  Now all those places I've gone, the things I have learned in just these five years of my daughter's life, the eleven years of my son's life, the fourteen years of my marriage... they lead me to believe that there will be hundreds and hundred more places I will visit in the next forty years, and I can't even imagine all the things I will get a chance to do.

(p.s. I did do a few things on that list)

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Forty is awesome!! My favorite age...
Thanks! So far it is pretty great!
Forty is the new 28. Have a great decade.
I just turned forty too, and I think this is going to be my best decade by far.
Oh, gawd. Forty is young! You are in the absolute height of your physical beauty, sexuality and feminine wiles. Enjoy your 40s!!! I'd give anything to go back a decade. :)
I can so relate - today was 100 days of school in Minneapolis Public Schools, too! I sent m&ms with my first grader, though. Rock on! Best wishes from Another Jennifer In Her 40s
I loved this - it gave me such a great sense of you and your daughter. The places visited on slips of paper - what a great interpretation of the assignment! Your daughter is benefiting as much from your creativity as your travels, lucky little one.

And why on earth would anyone be 'ashamed' of aging? It's an inconvenience, maybe, but in the end no one escapes it. Shame should be saved for wasting our lives, not having evidence of lived them - something your essay reinforces as beautifully as a warm Pacific wind on the face.
As I near the age of 40, I needed to read this...thank you!
Now, for me to make my 100 list on slips of paper. Rivi ting. I'm 47 with 17 year old. Time flies when your parenting!
Very happy looking,lovely couple.
I love your attitude! This is one article worth reading again and again. Thanks!
I love the 100 Things assignment and your clever response to it.. hope you threw in a few photos too. I'm with Sandra, there's no shame in aging, it's simply a fact of life. We're both older than you (I'm older than Sandra), but we're all joined the the great experiment of life. I hope you check off as many adventures on your list as we have done and continue to do.
Thank you for all of the encouraging comments!
Interesting read, filled with little mysteries, such as the annual wheelchair repair....?
Congrats on the book! Nice to see you've published, and on such a complex and fascinating (I think) topic everyone ought to read about, whether autism is in your own home or not.
I hear all the kudos about forties so I'll leave my own thoughts out, but if you DO find yourself tired of the forties, I will say that the fifties are pretty fabulous too, so far, so good. : )
Hi forty is a wonderful age, and I hope that the new experiences you share are all your favorite. This way by the time you turn 50, you'll feel like a whole decade just past you by, and you respond by saying "gee where did the time go?" Thats what I did when I passed 50. Enjoy!
I can definitely relate! I learned to fly a plane at 31, had my first book published at 39, and will finish law school at 46(shhh!). None of those things was on my "list" at 20. More power to you!
Happy 40th! I love how you approached this iconic age.
40 is a good number, a happy number. You're going to love it! R
Congratulations, you´ve got a great outlook, many more years of enjoyment for you and your family.