Sunday, June 29, 2014

50 is the new 40


I really thought I'd be pretty jazzed about this time in my life. My mom once told me - which I repeated, well, repeatedly, that her 40s were the "best decade of her life." She may have been in her 50s when she told me that so maybe her 50s were sucking, or she had no idea that her 60s would rock the way they did, and of course, we all know now that her 70s started out OK but finished like utter Crap She Didn't Deserve. 

But I digress. I didn't mind turning 40. I literally felt a layer of skin I like to call my "Give A Shit Epidermis" shed from my body like a fleece coat on a warm day. Which didn't necessarily mean I didn't give a shit anymore. I did. I do. But I just felt less badly about feeling bad about how I acted or felt. If you're in your 40s, perhaps you're picking up what I'm putting down here.

Me and my 40+ wrinkles.
Anyhoo, well, the whole Awesome 40 thing has kinda backfired. Maybe I thought I was ready for what this decade would bring, or maybe I was just a smidge too optimistic. Which is weird. Because "optimistic" isn't really a word anyone has ever used to describe me. Nor are words like "sunny," "perky," or "bubbly."

So I'm wondering what exactly has made my 40s not live up to its hype. What did I think was going to happen in this Decade of My Dreams? Well, I assumed (yes, I know what happens when you assume) that because of my new found lack of "Give a Shit Epidermis" that I would suddenly be OK with everything going on around me. More comfortable in my new skin, if you will. And in some respects I have. Taking charge in my job with more confidence, knowing that my experience and "worldliness" makes me feel less of that "girl in the corner why is she talking during this meeting" and more of "wow what that lady over on the other side of the table said really actually makes sense." That's nice.

But then there's the "hmmmm... I'm in my 40s - LATE 40s if you will - and still not really seeing where this career thing is going... and, well, yeah, not really 'livin' the dream' financially either." When does that comfort kick in? Or is that just the price you pay for living in the economy we live in, where the rich get richer and the rest of us just kind of always flounder? Sometimes I get tired of floundering. Not that I want to be rich. I just thought by this age I'd at least not have so much to worry about in that arena. But I'm smart, and I'm savvy. And sometimes I look at it as kind of a fun challenge - to see how I can get a little more water from that rock, sometimes in unexpected ways. (No, I don't pole dance. Relax.)

Then there's that kid thing. Not that I expected teenagers to necessarily be "easy," but I figured by this time they'd be engaged in a zillion activities with a ton of friends and my house would be one of those like on the TV commercial where the boys run in all muddy from playing football and the mom laughs and grabs a shit-ton of pizza rolls out of the freezer and they all sit around feeding them to each other.

That commercial is so not true. What the hell.

Suffice to say, I didn't see this year coming and all the changes that ensued and continue to ensue. There aren't a ton of activities or friends, and there are no pizza rolls in the freezer. None. I'm kind of in this parental limbo where I'm not really needed for the day-to-day-care-and-feeding but my presence as support and supervisor on an on-call basis is required. Which basically means I don't make a lot of plans. A family outing that "sounds fun" at the time can be quickly trumped by a call from a friend to go to a water park or some other way better place. A night of movies and games quickly becomes blanket and a book time for mom when a last-minute sleepover request occurs.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining, per se. I'm glad my kids have social lives, and friends, and things to do. Again, I just feel as if I need to be here when I need to be here, and I'm not always sure when that is. So making my own life and plans outside of theirs is a little, shall we say, capricious.

Maybe this is my mid-life crisis. Maybe this is where I say, "OK - I 'gave up' XX years of my life for everyone else now it's my turn" but honestly, even if I did have a turn I'm not sure what I'd do. I love to say I'd "Write that Book" or "Freelance for that Travel Magazine" or "Learn to Tap Dance." I don't really know if I'd do any of those things. (I'm 80% sure I'd cop out on the tap dancing.)

Maybe my 50s will be it. I've always been a late bloomer. Maybe my mom was right and I'm just, as I've always been, a little behind. Maybe my 50s will be the decade my career will really take off, both from a personal satisfaction standpoint as well as financial. My young, responsible teen will virtually have his own life and my older teen will be finding his and call me for advice and to tell me about his incredible adventures and what an awesome job I did as a mom to get him where he is today, blah, blah.

Oh and after a long day of Doing What I Love and Talking to My Awesome Kids I'll settle down to a glass of wine and scintillating conversation with my (back in shape lean and muscular) legs resting comfortably on the lap of This Awesome Guy I met who supports everything I do and thinks I'm amazing and in turn is AS amazing. Not in any hurry for that one, mind you. It'll happen.

God I can hardly WAIT for 50.