I’m pretty sure most people don’t observe their half birthdays. It probably passes them by like just another day. Am I right?

I grew up with a mom who once made me half of a cake on February 15th, which is my half birthday. Most years she wished me, “Half a Happy Birthday” with a lunch box note. It was a fun thing—it was our thing—probably because her half birthday is the day after mine. That other half of the cake could be presented in her honor on February 16th.

Whatever the reason for observing half birthdays, I like it. We have plenty of ordinary days in our lives. Why not celebrate a few extra special days now and then? It doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, keeping it simple is what makes it special.

Today my mom reached out to me with a text. And I started to wonder – when I turn 40 in six months, will there be things I’ll wish I would have done?

Approaching this new decade intimidates me a little bit. It officially marks the end of raising little kids in my 30’s, and the beginning of raising and (gasp!) releasing teenagers in my 40’s. Endings and beginnings, chapters and new stories–the literary world is full of analogies on aging. I’m simply trying to keep up with the pace of life without missing what really matters along the way.

In the next six months, I hope I’ve met up with my college friends. Those girls got me through the most challenging 4 years of my life, and I’ve missed them. In six months, I hope I have a trip planned with my mom. I don’t have a sister or a daughter, but I sure do love my mom. Sitting on a beach with her and a good book sounds like a dream I’d like to see come true.

Closer to home, I’m learning to savor the moment when my youngest son gives me a sleepy good morning hug. He carries his favorite blanket to the kitchen with him and I wonder if it’s the last time he’ll do that. I watch my 8th grader walk towards my van after school and think middle school is going awfully fast. Maybe we need an ice cream date, just the two of us. My high school son drives away to school every morning and I watch his car until I can’t see it anymore. I’m sure that’s why he gets there safely. My husband is still my favorite person to see walk into a room. Lots of people know him, but nobody knows him the way I do.

39 ½ feels like hanging on tight and letting go, all at the same time. There’s nothing else like it, and that’s what I call living. Thank you, half birthday, for reminding me I still have hopes and dreams. If they don’t all come true in six months, like a good Cubs fan that I am, I simply say, “There’s always next year!”

Sarah Luke

Born and raised in Chicagoland, Sarah now calls Nebraska home. She’s been married for 19 years to Derek, her college sweetheart. They have three sons—one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. She worked as a registered nurse before staying at home full time with the boys. Maybe someday she will go back to nursing, but for now she loves keeping up with her family and enjoying the moments set before her. Swimming and reading are her favorite hobbies, along with boating and camping. She’s quick to point out that she camps in a camper, and leaves the tent camping to Derek and their boys!