I’m a 50-something woman. I have about eight more years of 50-something to go until I become 60-something and that doesn’t scare me. Not one little bit.
The older I get, the younger I realize I actually am. With each day that passes, I feel I have more life to live, rather than less. Logically, I know this doesn’t make much sense but that’s how it is.
In the interest of those who feel a little trepidation over let’s call it Act Two, I thought I’d attempt to articulate the two key realizations behind my age-defying aging.
#1. Quality matters more than quantity.
At 50-something, I see quality where I didn’t always see it before. I’ll pay more for a smaller amount of good food than I will for a larger amount of mediocre food. I’d rather spend 20 minutes with a true friend than an evening out with so-so friends. And the older I get, the more vulgar I find consumerism.
I’m getting tired of more.
According to Wikipedia, most American women are married by 27 and most Canadian women are married by 29. (Sounds right enough.) That makes me a fairly late bloomer as I first walked down the aisle at the age of 33.
Say he, the ex, had been my perfect mate. Say we were both destined to live and remain together into our late 80s. That would have given us 50-something years together. FIFTY YEARS people!
I’m not saying a happy couple shouldn’t aspire to 50, 60 or even 70 years in happy matrimony, but would it be so terrible if you only got, say, 45 or 40? For that matter, would it be so awful if you only got 20? Point being, why this sense of urgency? We have time is all I’m saying.
While mother nature quite rightly conditions us to find our baby’s daddies by the time we’re 30 or so (someone’s gotta sustain the human race), she simultaneously conditions us to expect decade upon decade of marital bliss, and in so doing, tampers with our ability to comprehend that just one year, one day, one hour of happiness is worth so much.
Now that I have a better grip on just how precious a single hour can be, I have more time. You see, 30 years isn’t just 30 years. It’s 262,800 hours.
#2. The less I expect, the more I get.
At 50-something, I expect a lot less than I used to, from myself and from others. And I don’t say this in a “woe is me, life is so disappointing and I’m a martyr,” kind of way. I’ve simply learned to accept and respect (for the most part) that human beings have limitations. They’re not all here to ensure I get a better ride out life.
For me, parenthood was loaded with expectations. Oh, if I could only take the wisdom I have today and turn back the clock.
When my darling daughter was born, she was damn cranky. All around me, new moms bounced happy babies on their knees while I paced the floor trying to get mine to stop crying. Being the open book I am (there’s a reason I started blogging), I would share my parental plight with anyone who’d listen, and express how desperately I just wanted this phase to be over.
Among the responses I received, two stand out in hindsight. The first, from my cousin: “The smaller the kid, the smaller the problem.” The second, from my parents: “When this phase ends, it will simply be replaced by another.”
I wasn’t buying it. I was 35. I wanted and expected more. Subsequently, I spent years loving parenthood but simultaneously wishing the days away, all due to the fact that my daughter was complicated, as every single human being on the planet is.
Fast forward to 50-something. My daughter is now 17 and still complicated, but I have finally stopped wishing this version of complicated away. I wake up every day without expectations and as if by magic, the clock has slowed down. Here’s my theory.
If you wake up with expectations and those expectations aren’t met, chances are you’ll consider that day to have been a waste. There’s a certain fear associated with waste. Don’t waste money. Don’t waste water. Don’t waste energy. Don’t waste days. You don’t want to run out.
But if you wake up without expectations, you’re less likely to feel your day has been wasted and you’ll subsequently be less afraid of running out. In other words, you’ll buy yourself time — while getting older, no less. Genius, right?
I’m 50-something and loving it.
A month shy of my 52nd birthday, I’m feeling healthier, happier, stronger and more creative than ever. I’m embracing every day and looking forward to every tomorrow, including those that will see me turning 60, 70 and 80. As for turning 90, this picture captures what I’m hoping for. I’ll let you know how it pans out.