No One Told Me

IMG_5462I am not, and have never been, what you would a call an optimistic person.  I tend to not only expect the worst, but to prepare for it as well.  So I’m still trying to figure out how I managed to be be so completely clueless about what exactly was waiting for me when I reached middle age.  Because honestly, I had no idea….

I thought that being middle aged meant I wouldn’t worry about my children any more, because they would be grown up and out of my house.  I also thought I would have much more money and time at my disposal, because, well, my children would be grown up and out of the house.  And while it’s true my grocery bills have gone down significantly since I stopped having to feed my son’s insatiable appetite, I’m still waiting for all that extra time and money to arrive, and my level of worry about my kids hasn’t gone down one little bit.

I knew that I would eventually hit menopause and that some women experienced “unpleasant” symptoms, but I was still shocked when I had my first hot flash. I didn’t realize that having a hot flash meant feeling as if someone had stuck me in a microwave and turned it on high, and that I would have those feelings at least ten times a day and three to four times every night, for years.  And that constant, bitter, complaining didn’t help at all (as my husband regularly and patiently reminded me).

I didn’t know that that one morning I would wake up, decide to make pancakes for breakfast, but be completely unable to read the directions on the box of Bisquick.  I mean, how could that be?  Literally, one day I could read small print, and the next day I could not.  That mystery is right up there with why the hair from my eyebrows (where I wanted it) suddenly decided to migrate to my upper lip (where I most certainly did not want it).

Logically, I knew that as I aged, my parents and other relatives would also be aging, but sometimes I am still surprised when my mother walks into the room and I realize that she has turned into a bonafide, cute, little-old-lady.  Because when I’m not with her, I tend to picture her as she was twenty-five years ago, which, of course, is pretty much the age I am now.  I try not to think about that too much.

I now realize that middle age has its own set of problems and its own gifts, just like every other stage of our lives.  And I don’t want to sound as if I don’t appreciate the positive aspects, because I do.  I know I have a stronger sense of self now, and I appreciate the good people in my life so much more, and I don’t waste nearly so much time “sweating the small stuff” or worrying what other people think of me.

Still, I wish that I hadn’t been caught quite so off guard by my middle years, and that I had more of a chance to prepare, if only mentally, for all the changes I was going to be facing.  And then I realize that I also don’t have any real idea of what is waiting for me when, in the not too distant future, I become an actual senior citizen.  Maybe it’s time I had a long talk with my mother…..IMG_4369

Ten Good Things About An Empty Nest

We all know the downsides of the empty nest syndrome:  missing our children, the house feeling too quiet, we have to do our own yard work, etc.  But there are some good things about it as well:

1)  More closet space, and more drawer space.  You may even get a whole room to make over as an office, home gym, craft room, etc.

2)  Cheaper grocery bills.  If you have a son, MUCH cheaper grocery bills.

3)  Guest bathrooms that stay clean for days.

4)  You can go out to eat whenever you want to, and not worry about getting a sitter or a bunch of teenagers descending on your home while you are gone.  And if you have the rest of your meal boxed up to bring home, it actually stays in the refrigerator until you eat it.

5)  A good night’s sleep.  No more late nights waiting for your teenagers or young adults to get home safely.  They’re still out late, but you don’t know it.

6)  Much less laundry.  Sometimes you can go a whole week without doing a load.

7)  Your computer is almost always free, whenever you want to use it.

8)  You can wear what you want to wear, because there’s no one to tell you those are “Mom jeans,” or to say, “That’s what you’re wearing?  Seriously?”  Your husband is the only one who’s going to see your outfit before you leave the house, and he knows better than to criticize.

9)  The only music playing in your house is music you actually like.  No more rap.  Ever.

10)  You get to know your husband again, and if you’re lucky, remember why you fell in love with him in the first place.