Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pearls & Irony

And so, while we waited for the kids to enjoy a couple of hours at the pool on Sunday we sat in the library.  After the people-watching, I walked by a shelf somewhere between gardening and puppy training and found the following titles:

Back home, I was sitting in my chair with my 1.25+ readers on, a picture of my Mother in a red hat as a bookmark, and opened a book.  These words screaming...  jumping at me off the page:

Are you one of us?

You look around and see that the world has changed somehow.  The first husband, gone.  Perhaps the second has followed like a penny thrown after one already lost.  The exciting career you sacrificed so much for has lost some of its luster.  Should you give it all up, shift gears, try something new?  At your age?  You've begun to count the years until retirement.  In the mirror, a reflection you hardly recognize...

Here you are:  midway, midlife, on the cusp, resting from the uphill climb, ready to coast.  You've made it this far, haven't you?  You've learned some things.  You've earned a rest.

But, then, the parents are aging.  They need a little more of your time, perhaps to move them into a smaller home (what is in all of those boxes in the basement?)...

...instead of kicking back, you find yourself kicking in, finding another hour before bed to arrange for your mother's care, another hour before dawn to exercise, another hour come Sunday to make love, do the laundry, pay the bills, finish the novel, and, perhaps, take a walk, take a deep breath, appreciate the life you have made for yourself.

You circle the block, the neighborhood, the lake.  You end up right back where you began.

Are you lost?  Are you found?

Kiss Tomorrow Hello, Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty
Edited by Kim Barnes and Claire Davis

And so it goes, on and on in this book of stories from women who have gone before us.  Irony?  or pearls of wisdom?  I've only just begun reading it, but it seems so apropos.

Looking in the mirror each morning, I no longer see a 29 year old me.  The good news is that I feel only slightly older than 29 after the last five years of changes to my body.  Certainly, I'm a little in denial that the woman staring back at me from the the looking glass is almost forty-four years old.  Middle age.  Really?  When did I get here?  Where am I going?  The women on the maternal side of my family have lived into their 90's, so I am fast approaching the middle of my life.  Heck, I could very well BE here.

Too many unanswered questions have my mind reeling lately.  Am I living the dash?  Re-evaluating my life is exhausting most days.  Am I happy?  Absolutely, positively YES.  Am I where I thought I'd be at this time in my life?  Honestly...  no.  The economy has me worried that I may never see retirement.  Heck, I cannot even count the days until retirement if they keep pushing the age out.  But with JP being nine years my senior, my retirement should come that much sooner, right?  I mean, I really want to live life with my husband, after the kids have grown and moved out.  I certainly don't want to work for another 28 years.

So we live within our means, and look beyond the reflection in the mirror each morning...  but certainly, we do not want to cheat ourselves the opportunity to live the dash.  Because face it ladies, we're not getting any younger.  It's what we DO with our wisdom come midlife {and so rightfully earned}, that matters most!

And in case you were wondering....   yes, I checked them all out.

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