When I turned 40, I wrote a post called On Turning 40. I think that’s what messed me up. If I hadn‘t written that one, I wouldn’t feel the need to write this one, but I did, so now I do.
I have been thinking about this post for months, trying to come up with the salient points of turning 45, because it’s important to me. This blog is eventually for my daughters so I want to make sure I pass down good info. The thing is, 45 isn’t a super significant age. There aren’t any fun cards or gag gifts—all that glory goes to 40 and 50. The age of 45 is a different kind of special: It’s the age in the middle.
At least to me it is. To me, 45 was always “middle age.” Everyone has their own “middle age,” but to me, it’s 45. I can’t really see myself living past 90, so 45 is my middle—and unless there is a pain pill that takes care of EVERYTHING, I’m OK with 90 being the end. You will say you know a lady who is 100, and she looks amazing. She walks three miles a day, in stilettos, and I believe you—and that’s awesome, for her.
For me, I’m good with 90. And if I really do make it that far, I’m (right now) literally and metaphorically, in the very middle of my life—and my story. Seems like a pretty good time to take stock and pass down some stuff:
- The best laid plans do not matter. What will happen is going to happen.
If you were to ask me 20 years ago where I’d be today, I don’t know what my answer would be, but I can tell you I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be married to a camp director, living at an overnight camp full of kids, with two kids of my own. The fact that I’m a mom to two kids with hundreds more, on loan, every summer is crazy to me. And living at an overnight camp? I always thought I’d end up in a big city somewhere, maybe one with a nice park, but a camp? No. Oh, and one of my kids is from China? Whaaaaaaaat??
But that’s how it goes. You never know where life is going to take you. It’s all part of the story, and we all have one.
- Whoever said “It’s all about the balance” wasn’t just kidding:
If you have parents who are still alive, and a family of your own, you’re a part of the Sandwich Generation. We’re in between our parents and our family. We’re still bound by loyalty (and sometimes guilt) to our parents, but we’re also responsible for the happiness and welfare of our own families.
It’s a struggle to find balance with family and extended family. It’s also a struggle to find balance with work and our own families. And by “work” I mean stay-at-home-moms too. Of all my professions, the profession of “Mom” is the hardest, and the biggest time suck. When you are a mom, there is always something that needs to be done, answered, cleaned, fixed, scheduled or re-done.
No matter the profession though, something will always “need to be done.” It’s hard to walk away from work, even when spending time with family is (usually) so much more preferable. It’s just not always easy, especially if you’re ambitious.
Am I spending enough time with my kids?
Will they be lacking anything because I work?
Are they going to complain one day that I worked too much?
Who knows? But on the flip side they will see you as a positive role model and for some, myself included, I’m a better parent because I have other professions besides the “Mom” one. If that was my only job, my kids would be even more off the wall than they already are, because I would be too.
It’s the same with money. Balance is where it’s at. Our instinct is to want to spend ALL of our money (well, mine is) because buying things is the BEST, but we also know we need to save. It is for our future and our kids’ future, and it’s important. (Still sucks though.)
The eating thing? Yep, balance. As we age, our metabolism slows down and that sucks just as much as saving money. It means we either need to work out more, or eat less. Eating less is boring (BOOOO!), but as responsibilities pile up, it’s harder to find time to exercise. For me, my body is so beat up from years of crazy work-outs, I can’t do the same exercises I used to do. There‘s too much pain involved now. For those of us in this position, we live in a constant struggle of finding balance between eating and exercise—especially when dessert is served.
- You start to care less about things you couldn’t care less about:
“Not caring” as we get older is more of a time issue than anything else. It’s hard to care about all the things we used to have time for, because we don’t have as much time to give. Stupid things become stupider when there are so many bigger, more important things to deal with. I love to hear about the drama in my friends’ lives or my kids’ lives, but in my own, once it goes from entertaining to time consuming, I gots to go, yo.
- You learn how to accommodate and maintain in the truest sense of the words:
People are like cars. After a certain amount of wear and tear, s**t starts to break down and anything that isn’t broken needs to be maintained. That means doctor appointments—so many doctor appointments. Some are preventative, and some are for new (and inconvenient) issues. Crazy stuff starts to happen as we age and we have to accommodate it, because if we don’t, it will just mean bigger problems later.
But it’s so much work! Every day it’s something new! “Flo” pretty much comes whenever she wants, I can’t look at my forehead without thinking I could teach my kids Cursive between all the lines, and if my back and shoulder pain weren’t enough, there’s a new pain in my foot which the doc says is basically just something I will have to learn to live with. AWESOME! Actually, it’s kind of starting in my other foot too. Oh well, at least there’s one thing in my life that will be balanced!
- You’re going to be busy.
You’re going to be busy no matter what age you are. We’re all busy. Your schedule will get exponentially busier if you have kids and a job outside the home, but no matter what age you are, you will be busy. Your friends will also be busy, so when one of them texts, apologizing for not getting back to you right away because she’s SO busy, it’s understandable you’d want to respond by saying “Who isn’t?” because it’s true.
- You start to recognize your place in this life.
When we were younger, we had more time and fewer responsibilities. That usually changes over the years, but for many of us, at this age, it’s ON. New stuff, bad stuff, good stuff—it’s all happening. There will come a day though, when we aren‘t as busy. One day, many years from now, things will settle down and our responsibilities will change.
I will be ready when that day comes, and I plan to enjoy every minute because I know I will have earned it: I’m going to binge watch TV with all my friends (who are still alive), I’m going to take EVERY drug I never tried just to see what the hype is about, and I’m going to stuff my face with heavily frosted cakes and cheeseburgers until my husband takes them away or I go into a coma.
But that’s not for awhile, so until then, (as my dad used to say) I will “keep on keepin’ on.” I have lived too much of my life to start over, and I’m not even close to being done. I’m in the middle, right where I’m supposed to be.
Thank you for being here!