Embracing 50: age is just an illusion

Embracing 50: age is just an illusion

 

Age is an illusion

Or is it? As a freshman in high school, I thought the seniors were old…and by seniors, I meant the 17 and 18-year-olds!   I would panic when a senior even looked at me and my young self, as the age of 18 was technically an adult! Furthermore, someone in their 20’s was fricken ancient, which made anyone near 50 a senior citizen!  Needless to say, back then, I  was also that woman who was not going to get married, nor was I going to have children. I was going to complete my Ph.D. and take care of the world.

Ah, best-laid plans, right?

My 20’s

This decade was an extension of my teens, albeit while attending college. Looking back, I can’t imagine how I would have prospered if I had actually studied more and partied less. I honestly don’t know where the energy came from, as all I did was worked, studied and went out. Repeat. And repeat again.

The transition to adult employment was less tragic than I would have imagined. It turns out I was pretty good at what I went to school for (who would have thought). And amazingly, I could live easily it up at night and work all day! I moved into my first apartment, purchased a pack of smokes and a six pack and consumed both while sitting in front of my giangantuaous platform tv watching Beverly Hills 90210 (I didn’t smoke, just like the independence). Suddenly, I was a somewhat self-respecting grownup who paid my own bills and was fast realizing that there was more to the world than going out and being social.

My 30’s

As my friends began to settle down, I was still in denial that settling down was for me. I surrounded myself with others who loved to live life to the fullest and enjoy the world. I worked, worked out (less as I began to work more) and went out.  It was during one of those nights out that I picked up the phone and left a message for a long lost crush of mine (yes, it was one of THOSE calls). We all have that “one” that never leaves our mind or our heart. And after dating on and off since we were 16, we made the decision to move forward…together.

This was a challenge for this wild and independent girl. Now I was sharing a bathroom with a boy!  lol And we were making plans for a future…together (gasp)! Thank the Lord that he was patient and understanding because anyone who knows me also understands that I am not the easiest person to be around.

We got a puppy…together…it was the ultimate commitment in my book. That is until he proposed.

My Mid 30’s

Chad and I were married at the same time that some of our friends were getting divorced. It always seemed as though I was in a different life stage than those around me, which was probably true, since I was the one to do things my way. About the time that Chad was settling into his profession, I decided to go to graduate school, still thinking I would pursue my Ph.D. I did get my Master’s; however, I stopped there, as our priorities changed when we had our first son at the age of 39.

For the midwest, 39 is really pretty old to be having a baby. So not only did we endure the whole “Advanced maternal age” comments within my chart, my body was pretty shocked at what I was asking it to do.  This pregnancy knocked me on my ass and bedrest soon took me out of the world, but it was all worth it.

And this woman who wasn’t going to have kids? She became a stay at home mom.

The 40’s

So, if 39 is old to have a baby, our prayers were answered when we had our second son at 40. Truth be told, this decade is a blur. Two babies, four dogs, three moves to two different states and three different homes. Multiple surgeries, multiple injuries, hormone changes, weight changes…blah, blah, blah.

My 40’s were dedicated to my failing body and raising my boys. For someone who was never going to have a family, I can’t imagine my life any other way. I don’t believe we have kids to teach them the ways of the world, I believe we are given children so they can teach us. Watching the world through my children’s eyes is simultaneously amazing and terrifying. These boys reminded me there is more to the world than what I was focusing on, and thank God for that.

This is 50

50 is a time of rebirth for me. The boys are getting older and more active, just like their mom. 50 is when I give myself permission to be selfish and focus on me. It’s time to get back to basics by making my wellness a priority and learning to say no to what doesn’t feel good. It’s a time of discovery and soul searching. If you need help on this journey, please see this previous blog post I wrote.

For me, it’s a time for reflection and asking God where He wants me. After seeing so many of my family members and friends leave too soon, I vow to never take a birthday for granted. Where I used to cry on my birthdays, now I embrace the opportunity for another day with my loved ones. So, thank you, Lord, for your work in me.  I am excited to see where you lead me next as I step out of my comfort zones. After all, God has never left me through this adventure and I trust He knows the next chapter of my story.

I just need to stop trying to take control of the journey.

 

 

Don’t be an asshole…try compassion

Don’t be an asshole…try compassion

Are you an Asshole?

Wow, that’s a brutal opener, isn’t it? The question stands though, are you an asshole?

An appropriate answer could go something like this: “well, I guess it depends upon who you ask”. And while there may be some truth to that, it’s unfortunate. Human nature has proven again and again that we tend to lash out at those closest to us, at those we love the most.  The social worker in me says that we do this because we feel safe with them and can let our guard down. The wife and mother in me thinks that is a cop out. Shouldn’t we model compassion for all?

Compassion

When engaging with an asshole, the last thing we want to use is compassion. I get it. One riled up person often creates another riled up and pissed off person. Click To TweetHowever, what if you could diffuse the situation? Often times, being aware of our own behavior can assist in de-escalating the increasing anger of others…hence the expression “killing them with kindness”.

However, what happens when compassion doesn’t work?

That’s when we check our boundaries.

Boundaries

This is where it gets tricky. We want to be compassionate without becoming a figurative or literal “punching bag” and that isn’t always an easy thing to do. For many of us, we need to remove said asshole from our life before we realize how toxic the situation truly was. It is only at that time that we can look back and recognize said person for what they are…and thank God that we had the fortitude to remove said person or ourselves from the situation.

As adults, this is difficult to do, therefore, imagine the pressure our children go through. It can be difficult to empower our children to set appropriate boundaries when they witness adults being assholes to one another. This is where it becomes our responsibility to role model both compassion and setting boundaries.

Role Modeling

I have two boys who view the world drastically different. One of my boys doesn’t personalize anythings while one of my sons is very sensitive and tends to personalize the behavior of others, often resulting in relationship issues with his peers. He is compassionate and wants to resolve any conflicts passively. While I commend this approach, it also sets him up to become the product of ridicule from his classmates and we talk about establishing appropriate boundaries. Essentially we have discussed the following:

  • Show compassion, we don’t know what others are experiencing and perhaps he is acting out.
  • Ignore him. Focus on YOU and don’t allow him to have any control over your time at school.
  • Talk to the teacher about the situation.
  • Punch him…while this is not politically correct, if my son has demonstrated the above coping skills and things have yet to change for him, where else can he take this?

My point is this: it is difficult to teach our children how to deal with assholes when they watch everything we are doing. Let’s try a different approach, shall we?  How about we show compassion to others when we want to become angry and lash out. We need to give ourselves time outs to cool off and demonstrate appropriate interactions with others.

After all, when I call it a day, I want to believe in my heart that I wasn’t an asshole…nor did I punch anyone.

Thoughts?