Tag Archives: 40s

The Year of Me

Wow. That sounds kind of narcissi20160520_143643-1stic, now that I see it in front of me. “The Year of Me.” Who does that?

Well, I do. Or I will, soon.

It’s not what you think – I’m not going to go all self-absorbed on the world, caring only about MY wants and MY needs and MY chocolate. This is something different.

A few years ago, a friend and former coworker had the “Year of Chris.” She has two daughters, and twin grandchildren, and a husband, but she spent the year doing things that made her happy – or being happy doing the things she was doing. It was awesome. And I was jealous.

Having been a single mom since 2002 (you have no idea how much I HATE playing that card, seriously), there had been relatively few “Days of Me,” so the idea of taking a full year? That was amazing. That’s what dreams were made of.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a bitter, angry person. In fact, I’m actually quite happy. I laugh a lot, I smile a lot more, I enjoy the “todays” because they’re so fleeting. I enjoy life – I truly do, and I am honestly happy doing the things I’m doing. Do I wish I had more money to enjoy it more? Sure. It would be nice to have extra to be able to go more places and do more things. But do I let it get in the way of enjoying today? Not in the least.

But this year is going to be different. Kind of.

My big dream has always been to go to Ireland. I’m third generation Irish-American, and there are still some distant relatives I’d like to go meet. And let’s be honest – Ireland. It’s beautiful. Flights aren’t horribly expensive, and if I (and however many friends and family members care to join me) stay in an Airbnb place, lodging won’t be too bad, at all. So, I thought, set it up. Make a plan. Do it.

In 2017, right smack almost perfectly in the middle of the year, I turn 50. It’s not a frightening number to me – 20 years ago I was terrified of 30, but 50 sounds almost exciting – but it’s a milestone and I want to mark it as such. So, sometime in the Year of 50, I’m going to Ireland.

But what about the year leading up to it? I don’t really want to spend a year in wait, saving every penny (though I’ll be saving several), waiting for the calendar to turn the right amount of pages so I can go on my adventure. Plus, I’ve loved my 40s, absolutely loved them. This has been the most fun decade by far – even with scraping to get by, failed relationships (which made for some pretty funny stories, I gotta tell ya’), and the loss of my favorite canine companions. My 40s have been great, I can’t just let them end on a whimper.

No, what I’m going to do in the year between 49 and 50 is allow myself to do the things I haven’t made time for/didn’t save for/made excuses for over the last several years.

I’m going to Phoenix to stay with a cousin I don’t get to see very often. I’m going to go to one of my college football games and try to connect with some college roommates and friends. I plan to go to Chicago. I’m going to go see an Iowa Cubs game. I’m going to go to the movies. I’m going to go sit on a friend’s balcony and have drinks. I’m going to do things for me.

I think we all need to take a year for ourselves. Just not this year – this one’s mine.

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The backside of 40

Funny-Old-Woman-smokingIn a few short hours – less than three, actually – I will officially end the first half of my 40s and get started on the back half. I say “officially” because I’ve not yet decided whether I will accept what the calendar says or simply remain 45 for as long as I can get away with it.

I have, through the duration of my 40s, proudly exclaimed how wonderful this decade was. I found myself. I discovered new things about myself. I accepted myself for who I am, and realized that in reality, I’m a pretty cool person to know. I’ve flirted with the gym, quit smoking, ended a 30-year relationship with Diet Coke and vastly improved my eating habits. I built strong, lasting relationships with my kids and guided them into adulthood, ready to spread their wings. I’ve reconnected with those I thought I’d lost, and have a renewed sense of reality about lifelong relationships I had mistakenly put on a pedestal.

In short, I’ve lived.

I expected – and was fully prepared – to spend the last half of my 40s the same way I’d spent the first, enjoying life as it happened.

Then came May.

I have no misconceptions about aging. I know it happens to the luckiest of us, in some way or another, and we can choose to let it happen gracefully or fight it. For the most part, I fight it. People ask if my red hair is my natural color and I smile and say, “Yes, and no. This is my natural color, but not all of this color is natural.” I don’t color my hair, I just refresh the red. I’ve been blessed with the fair skin of the Irish and, somehow, have managed to keep my face smooth and young looking – people are often surprised to hear I have a child who is 17, and they are really surprised when I mention her 21-year-old brother. I look at myself and think back to when my mother was my age and know that I am not my mother’s 45.

But May – May had something special in store for me. A lot of somethings, actually.

It started early on in the month, when I began to notice a greater difficulty reading scores on the TV or even some street signs at a distance. I went to the eye doctor in late April expecting to get a stronger prescription for my reading glasses and was given a different kind of prescription: for bi-focals. And yes, I opted for the invisible line. The glasses came May 3, a Friday.

That following Monday, May 6, I got a text from my Man/Friend – his pregnant daughter, due at the end of the month, went in for a doctor’s appointment that morning and was told they were doing a c-section that day. The baby, an amazing little girl, has stolen all of our hearts. She is simply fabulous. I posted a photo of me holding the beautiful girl on Facebook, where a friend promptly asked, “Does this mean we can call you Grandma Molly?” Ummm …

A week later my son turned 21, and my daughter and I were summoned to pick him up from the bars his co-workers took him to for celebration.

A week after that, my daughter – my own baby – graduated from high school.

Then I worked with a photographer on a special project at work and discovered I knew his parents – I worked with them a decade earlier when this photographer, now a married professional with two small children, was still in high school.

If I didn’t know better I’d swear May was a month full of Mondays.

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Love and anguish in our 40s

cosmoOnce upon a time I wrote a blog entry for a now-expired feature we did at The Gazette called “On the Street.” I went to the opening of the movie, “Sex and the City,” asked some question and then wrote a blog about my own dating experiences, now that I’m 40-something and divorced and “back out there.”

The blog stirred something in me — I wanted to do more writing along the same lines. There wasn’t much interest at work, so I’m doing it on my own, starting with the one that got me started. So welcome to Pour Me Some Whine — read, reflect and feel free to add your own stories.

This is the blog I wrote May 30, 2008, for The Gazette:

 

I first started watching “Sex and the City” when it premiered in 1998 and it was a fantasy to me. I was married, had two small children and lived in west central Iowa. What did I know about Manolo Blahniks, living the high life in New York City or drinking Cosmopolitans until dawn?

Then in 2002 I found myself 36, divorced and living in Eastern Iowa. Hello, Dating World.

Ugh.

I turned to my virtual friends – Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte – for tips and advice. After all, look at all the fun relationships they had: Carrie and Big, Carrie and Aiden, Miranda and Steve, Charlotte and Harry, Samantha and … everyone. I quickly learned, though, that dating as a never-married 30-something in New York wasn’t anything like being a divorced 30-something (and now 40-ish) woman in Iowa. And dating as a 30-something-turned-40-ish woman in Iowa is absolutely nothing like dating as a college co-ed, no matter where you are.

Much like anything else in life, dating in your 30s and 40s is a learn-as-you-go process. What attracted me at age 18 doesn’t hold much appeal to me now: “having a stable job” has replaced “earns enough money to buy gas;” “enjoys a quiet night at home” has earned top spot over “likes to go out and party;” and “must get along with my kids” has taken the place of … well, nothing, because it just wasn’t an issue when I was 18.

You also learn what you are and aren’t willing to put up with. I never would have thought that having someone sing “I love you” karaoke to me on our second date – and tell me he meant every word – would be as disconcerting as it was, or that having someone brutally mispronounce a word several times in one conversation would be unbelievably annoying.

At one point in my new dating realm I actually created a list of “rules” – ones that I wouldn’t share, but would tuck away in the back of my head for future reference: thou shalt not ask me to a movie and then pretend to have forgotten your credit card when we get to the theater; thou shalt not say “I’d like to do this again” when in fact you wouldn’t; thou shalt not whine at me on the telephone before we actually “go out;” thou shalt not keep me waiting for you to get off work when you forgot to ask if you could leave early; and the ever-popular “thou shalt not lie to me about wanting to date other women when in fact you already have.”

Many of the challenges we face dating in our 40s are just the “grown-up” versions of the same challenges we had when we were younger. Some people still cheat, many still want to be with Barbie or Ken and no matter how hard we try to hide it, there is still a part of all of us that feels that bit of insecurity when it comes to meeting someone new.

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