I am turning fifty this year. As I age, I see more and more people around me struggle with this time in their lives. I do also. I believe that the decisions we made in our twenties and thirties come back to haunt us in our forties and fifties. That’s the darn crisis! Perhaps if we made good decisions, life would be all peaches and cream (has anyone actually eaten that). Let’s face it. A good portion of our twenty plus years focused on being married and raising our children. We were in survival mode! When that’s almost done we have our AHA or WTF moments. ONE CRISIS COMING UP! DING!
If someone today asks you: What is your life’s purpose? What gives it meaning? These are important questions because the way you answer will also lead the way to your future. If you sit here, as you read these words, and tell me that your children are your only life purpose, I will understand your sentiment but will whisper a word of caution. They are only on loan. If you neglect yourself, who you are at the core, all for the sake of your children and your spouse, you may be setting the foundation for some confusion down the road. I think that it’s about balance for all of us at this stage.
Those decisions that you made in your youth will now become the midlife elephant in the room. He will trumpet and stomp and ask you uncomfortable questions. That’s why this time of your age can be difficult. The elephant asks questions like:
- Why didn’t you save money?
- What are your hobbies?
- Do you love your spouse? Does he/she treat you right?
- Are you going back to school?
- Are you taking care of yourself?
- What brings your life meaning?
- What has your marriage taught your children?
- Did you really think he/she would stop cheating on you?
- How much time do you think you have left to take that trip?
- Exactly what day will you start to exercise?
- What else do you have besides your looks because…ummm…they are disappearing!
- Do you need glasses? (LOL sorry why yes, yes I do).
- When will you retire?
- Are you taking care of your health and securing your health for the future?
- What are your goals? What do you want to achieve?
We build prisons of our own making. It’s never too late to write the second half of our lives. Midlife is a blank page. It’s a new beginning. I don’t care if you’re in your forties, fifties, sixties or seventies – your time is NOW. Rewrite your story or finesse it. It’s never to late to stop making excuses. Face the elephant in the room and have your answers ready. It’s never to late to live your best life.
Hi. It’s me. I was going to write about how skinny people get wrinkles even though they’re skinny and my fat easily fills the lines on my face in but then I thought that wasn’t so nice. Plus, who am I kidding, I have both fat and wrinkles. So instead I will write about one of the biggest “oh my I’m raising sons” mistakes I’ve ever made. This mistake has come back to haunt me and I’ve dubbed it “I’m too tired to follow through on your bullshit” mistake. You’re welcome for my technical and psychological expertise.
So this is how it goes.
MOM: “Clean your room.”
SON: “OK Mom, I will….after I finish this game.”
MOM: “OK” (I naively and foolishly comment)
Two days later I realize that he never cleaned his room. Do I follow through? It depends on my energy level. To be honest I often repeat myself until I’m so damn tired and realize that it’s easier to pick up his dirty clothes myself. MISTAKE ALERT! WHOOT WHOOT WHOOT!
My sons have trained me, outlasted and outsmarted me. They have won the resilience battle. It’s really not fair because I have three kids to follow through with and they only have one mother to push back on. I am the ONLY woman in this household except my dog Mocha! What was I thinking? And let me say something about my Mocha. She’s a sweetheart. She keeps her brother Cap clean and licks the gunk out of his eyes while her eyes are matted like crap because he is not going to clean her because he is MALE. OK I digress.
So then I erupt into this huge monster hurricane tornado kind of mom and am met with complete embarrassment and attitude. “Seriously, like my other friend’s moms don’t behave this way.” To which I will reply “I AM FRIENDS WITH THOSE MOMS AND YES THEY DO!” What usually then follows is an exaggerated walk to the refrigerator by (pick any of my son’s names) and a slow drink of water until he sloooowwwwly goes upstairs to take four hours to clean a room that should have taken five minutes.
Dear future daughter-in-laws I am so very sorry.
One day I wrote a note to my son Ryan. The note said “Ryan, is that your plate in the basement I see on the TV cabinet?” Later when I passed that note I saw a reply. The reply said “Maybe.” OUT came the hurricane tornado mom only to find that he cleaned up his damn plate and now I AM the crazy one….again.
My point is? I try. I really try to follow through. To be honest I do a great job until they turn 16. That’s a magical age. That’s when the hormones and the body odor and the attitudes all peek at once and it’s just easier to hide from them. That’s when you feel like a boxer in a boxing ring and wonder where you went wrong and why you’re feeling down for the count. As they approach twenty you start to understand that you don’t care where you went wrong and start to dream about beach homes and long vacations.
But for now? I’m Hurricane Tornado Crazy Mom. However when my husband intervenes and puffs out his chest and sternly tells them to listen? I’m SUPER SULTRY SEXY WIFE!
No, I didn’t see your Facebook post or maybe I did and just didn’t focus on it. I liked something or I didn’t like something or I was lazy and switched gears and went to a news site. If you think that I’m intentionally ignoring you or selectively using social media to send you a message then you need to understand that social media is not a good tool to measure human interactions and relationships. I have the attention span of a five-year old most of the time so please don’t read into what I do or don’t do on social media. Be kinder to yourself. You’re worth more than what Facebook wants you to believe.
I’m not offended by what you say, what you write or what you do in your life. If that changes I will simply unfriend you in real life. I don’t believe you have a picture perfect life and I don’t believe you always look hot or skinny, because unlike your selfies I don’t view you from ten feet above your head. You may be a great mom, but I also know that you really suck at motherhood because all of us do. There’s no such thing as mother of the year. Trust me, I know….I’ve been losing that contest for twenty-two years straight. Your marriage isn’t perfect. I know this because I’m married. Your kids are great and I also know they suck. I know this because I have kids. You’re on vacation? So was I! Maybe you saw the pictures? No? That’s OK! I’ll tell you all about it over lunch or I won’t.
No, I didn’t see your Facebook post or maybe I did and just didn’t focus on it. Pick up the phone and give me a call.
It’s summer and that means I went to Sweden with the boys to visit family.
I knew I was in northern Sweden when:
- I had to wear a knit hat on one particularly cold summer day.
- My kids jumped into the lake fully clothed.
- A mosquito took a nose dive towards my nether regions while I was on the toilet.
- My son fed a worm to a baby bird. That baby bird is now dead because the mother was attacked by a cat.
- I lost all desire to put on makeup, shave or wear any clothes other than sweat pants and Levi’s.
- It took me a freaking hour to make hard-boiled eggs. Seriously what the heck is that? My sister-in-law said it’s because the eggs are so fresh. No way. This is a country that imports lots of food and I’m not buying that.
- I’ve made fire after fire to keep warm outside.
- I’ve served my kids half and half instead of milk due to not reading Swedish labels and being half asleep.
- Ice cream is now a food staple.
- My kids added Tack, OY, and hej to their vocabulary.
- I’ve been using the lawn tractor and push mower weekly.
- I’ve become a one-handed warrior mosquito killer.
- I’ve tried some jungle salt licorice candy that caused shooting pains up the sides of my jaw. Really guys?
- Pork is not steak. Enough with the pork Sweden.
- Have engaged in fun political discussions with my Swedish friends.
- I have fished and fished and fished.
- I went nuts when I discovered it was going to be hot one day at a high of 68 degrees!
- I’ve enjoyed the most beautiful sunsets.
- My kids have been outside running around every single day.
- I went to Svansele and ate moose and artic char.
- I saw a moose! A living one!
- A Cinderella toilet has changed my life!
Not all of this is glamorous but it refreshes the soul. There is plenty of time to get back into the hustle and bustle of life back in the U.S. This is a gift to my sons, and is the number one reason why I don’t return to work; my annual summer month in Sweden.
Sweden has changed me. I am two different people now. Many of you see the sometimes sarcastic, introspective, often humorous American friend and colleague. In Sweden I can build a mean fire, bait maggots and worms on a hook, and can drive a lawn tractor so fast it puts landscapers to shame. Being true to both of those personas is important to me.
I love you Sweden. Until we meet again. Back to my reality!