Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thinking Middle Age

"Time's a beauty. The road being long."
- Blues Traveller

I am 31 years old. I still say I am 30, but I am actually less than 6 months out from my 32nd birthday. When I turn 32, I will resort to saying, "I'm in my thirties. Are you surprised?" (smile)

Life has clearly entered a new phase. This isn't all due to entering a new decade or even being a new parent. My mindset has changed. I was told that this is part of middle age. What? I thought that with 50 being the new 40 that middle age was like 45. I mean people are living longer and longer especially women. Middle age, hah.


Crap. Maybe it's true.

I had no problem turning 30. My 20's had their highlights with being young, making milestones like a first job, first house, engagement, wedding, and continuing to party and do silly things. But those years were also very tumultuous for me, and I was ready for a new decade and fresh start. I turned 30 in February (in Hawai'i) and Min Man came home in June; it was an exciting time.

The 31st birthday didn't feel all that fun. I just kept thinking, shit I'm already past 30. If I forgot to wear my SPF 45 everyday before, I sure as hell couldn't afford to forget it now. My 31st year has brought a lot of changes. Motherhood and thinking about having a second child and all that entails is definitely a challenge. Starting the non profit and juggling my "real" job along with trying to work on my marriage and relationships has been a little tricky. But because I love what I am doing it has not been as hard as it may seem. Rewarding and fulfilling are good descriptive words. Feeling a sense of peace as well.

The biggest change for me has been how I look at time- the past, present, and future. I no longer feel like my choices are endless and I have all the possibilities in the world. There are several reasons for this: family, stability, income, planning for college, retirement, crisis'. Going through infertility made me view life very differently. Shit happens. We cannot always be prepared for it, but knowing life altering situations can arise is a tough life lesson. Some learn this very early on. I learned it in my mid-twenties.

I look backwards with a sense of nostalgia. I am having a hard time remembering all the details of funny times. In 2010 I will be out of college 10 years. Whew! I told my friends at home who went to school with me that we need to start going to Alumni weekend. We need to be able to go back and see how the place has changed, have beers at our favorite bars, and eventually show our children where we went to school. I went to several Alumni weekends at my dad's Alma Mater. I even sat in on a Spanish class when I was in ninth grade. I so wanted to go there. But my grades didn't cut it when application time rolled around. It's okay, though. I wouldn't change where I went to school for anything; I'm sitting here now in this house, typing on this computer, watching my son play with his cars because of where I ended up going to school. This is just one of the reasons I know that things always work themselves out.

I look at the present as cherishable. Even though I am one of those people always striving for more, I know I am content. I have it pretty good. But I want time to standstill. I am afraid of the years slipping by. Because of this I am trying very hard to live in the moment. Let the small stuff go, put things into perspective, know what is most important. It's not the guy that cut me off on the road or something mean and unprofressional said to me while at work.

As Robert Frost said, "I can sum up in 3 words what I have learned about life: it goes on."

Nothing will stop the sun from rising and setting, alarm clocks signaling another work day, first days of school along with last days of school, and on and on.

I look at the future with humility. I have visions of what of life in my 40's. Min Man will be 11. If we adopt a second child, she will be much younger. That is so different from my parents generation. I was 20 when my father turned 50- my brother was 24. Sometimes I look forward to the days when Min Man is a strapping young boy- all handsome and bright-eyed. He will probably tower over me and give me noogies and say, "Oh, Mom." I hope that he stays as sweet as he is now. He may get into trouble, but I hope he never loses his kind and loving disposition. Maybe it will be like when my mother was called into school because of stupid, harmless thing my brother did. The ladies in the office would all gush when they found out she was his mother. He was supposed to be in trouble all the time, but everyone thought he was the nicest, sweetest kid. My second child who is now only a dream will be a little girl with 1st grade on the horizon. What will it be like to have a daughter?

Middle age thinking is about realizing that many of the big decisions have been made, and asking yourself, how has it shaken out? There is so much life to live. I am not trying to say that I feel "old" (whatever that is) at this point. But I feel changed. It is not about maturity either. Middle age is about feeling the effects of time and knowing that the years are passing by all too quickly. I am a firm believer that life is what you make of it- at any age.

I look at my parents who are 60 and hope to be like them. They are madly in love and kids at heart. But I also hear things like, " We only have about 10 good years left before we have to worry about limited mobility and the ability to do everything we want to do." We joke about them moving into my house at some point and selling all their stuff on e.bay. My family is a bunch of realists with a great sense of humor. My mom boasts about drooling on my brother's couch as payback for ruining most of her furniture. However, these conversations are scary and depressing. Planning for getting old for them means hanging up their helmets and selling the motorcyle, the potential sale of their home of 40 years (my only childhood home) and many other difficult scenarios.

I find myself fighting regret. If there are things I wanted to do five years ago that I have not yet done, I have plans to get them accomplished. I have come to term with some things I used to feel bad about because I now understand (with age) that all my decisions have shaped who I am now. For example, if I had not gone out one October evening in the year 2000 for happy hour, I would not have met my husband. Crazy but true. If I had not taken a job where I would be laid off, I would not have starting working for my father which has been a wonderful experience for both of us.

One regret that lingers is that I did not wear my mother's wedding dress. My engagment was short and because she was unable to find the dress within a couple of weeks, I had to make the decision to buy a dress. I love my wedding dress and hope that a future daughter or niece may want to wear it, but I cannot help but wish I had come down the aisle in the lacy Prisci.llia of Boston gown my mother adorned in 1972. I have visions of wearing the dress at our 10 year anniversary, but I fear that my waist size will be all the more difficult to tame. She was tinier than I was at 25 so there would have to be some high intensity spinning classes attended to even zip it up and use the clasps. Maybe, just maybe I will get to wear her gown and pose the way she did with a parent on either side kissing her cheek.

Or, maybe I will see my daughter put on her grandmother's dress and redo the photo of my mother holding her father's hand on the front stoop with her daddy, DH. I can live with the endless possbilities of life. I can accept being middle aged if it means helping my growing nieces to be better people, lovingly take care of my child, face difficult situtations with friends and family, celebrate another wedding anniversary, and have the most confidence in myself than ever before.

This is not to say I haven't, when the time right, considered getting a tu.mmy tuck and eyebrow lift.

"Young, old. Just words."
- George Burns


Martha said...

Wow, what a beautiful and thoughtful post. I'm 48 y/o, mother of a 14 and 11 y/o and I love life more now than ever. Burying a brother who was 24 y/o (25 years ago) will do that to you. So what if my knees ache with the weather change? I am blessed with my parents, still active, vital, and giving back with their volunteer work and music at 79 and 81 y/o and yes, they have infirmities, but they live life to the fullest just like you strive to do. Blessings on your journey. Thank you.

Quiet Dreams said...

Beautiful post. I'm one year ahead of you (32) and a lot of things are starting to hit (maybe it was the realization that I had been out of college for 10 years this year). Part of it has been all of the change I have been experiencing--kind of like hitting the re-set button, and all the while I'm thinking, "But I'm too old for this!" On the other hand, I'm developing a true appreciation for every day and not wanting to waste any of it.

The Busters said...

Wow, I can relate to this post on so many levels that I don't know where to start. So I will just say Thank You for this post and for putting to words so much of what I have been trying to process recently. Glad to know I am not alone.

Kristin said...

What a wonderful post. I think my parents aging bothers me a lot more than any aging on my part. I don't think I am in any way ready for my dad to be almost 70.

A Fist Full of Dandelions said...

I'm 37 almost 38 with an 18 month old. I still feel young, I still think of myself as young, but just the other day, I realized...I'm no longer the "young cute girl" at work. I'm now the girl that mentors the "young cute girls!" That sucks!

Anonymous said...

Now I'm 42 & I'm nowhere near middle-aged, so you certainly can't be. That was a beautiful post though.

A Mom After God's Own Heart said...

What a fantastic post!

I love your blog:)

Now following you from MBC!

S.E. Sward said...

I loved turning 30. But at 40, I was practically certifiable. I just turned 41 - and had the nicest birthday in years, amazingly enough. None of the angst and craziness I experienced with turning 40. I joked about being 39 for the third time and my daughter told me: "Be how old you are, Mommy." A lesson in self-acceptance from a 6-year-old. Amazing.

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest.


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