A Decade of Change

Maybe it’s because I recently attended my high school reunion, but I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to be next year when I turn 50. It seems impossible. How could I actually be 50? I find it laughable that I will soon attain such a monumental age. Five decades. What will I have to show for it?

Thankfully I’m not hung up on the number like many women I know. I have one girlfriend who was so upset when she turned 40 that I worried she might do something rash. (I’m happy to report she did not.) She takes great care of herself and could easily pass for a woman ten years younger. Her reaction made no sense. Why all the angst? To me it’s just a number, but one that is—at least this time around—making me take stock of my life.

Mont Blanc, France, September 2003. It was my 9th wedding anniversary and I had no clue what was right around the corner.

Mont Blanc, France, September 2003. It was my 9th wedding anniversary and I had no clue what was right around the corner.

I don’t remember taking stock as I approached 40, but I was in a very different place then. Ten years ago I was on a trip with Michael, my now ex-husband, to Central and Southern France. He claimed it was an early 40th birthday present for me, but my big day was over six months away. He, on the other hand, had turned 48 only a few days before we left. The trip was a long-held dream of his, and on it, we would celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. When the day arrived, we were in the French Alps. We took a tram to the top of Mont Blanc, and it was clear and cloudless. We could see for miles in all directions. I thought this was a good omen. After years of struggling with infertility, we were waiting to adopt. We were both doing well in our respective careers and had plenty of money and a nice house. We were in France—again. Life was good.

We had no idea a child was right around the corner. We had no idea what that adoption would unleash.

Ten years later I’m a single mom of an autistic child. Nearly everything, including my pets and career, are different. As a result, my dreams and aspirations are different too, and that’s okay.

My 40s were a decade of increasing self-awareness and self-acceptance. They were also a decade of change, filled with tremendous loss, turmoil, and challenge. But either because of or despite these hardships, I’ve grown. I’m happier, calmer, and more resilient. I’ve learned to listen to my intuition and trust myself, take risks I wouldn’t have taken ten years ago. I’m glad I won’t have to relive those difficult years but they were worth the cost. They were worth every penny of pain I paid.

Now as I approach the second half of my 49th year, I want to translate those hard-won lessons into meaningful change. I want a more vibrant, authentic, and—dare I say it?—abundant life. Anything less would be selling me (and Katie) short.


Balloons_in_the_skyThis, by the way, is the 100th post on my blog! Yep, this is Number 100. How time flies. I launched my website in August 2011 and started the blog two months later. I’ve been having fun ever since.

As you are reading this, I will be off celebrating. Maybe with some chocolate cake….

Until next time,
Cynthia Patton

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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