Tag Archives: age

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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Dear Father Time: Bite me

For the record, I love my 40s. I’ve been saying it for, well, five years now, and it’s still true. I was a little intimidated by them before they got here, but once I turned 40 I realized the number isn’t the same as it was – or how I thought it was – when my mother was 40.

That was, until recently. Suddenly I feel old. Not put-me-in-a-nursing-home-so-I-can-chase-birds-with-my-walker old, but old all the same.

It started in March and seems to have made a monthly progression to now.

March – My son, then 19, started looking at apartments and for a roommate, found one of each and made plans to move out the first of April. <ding>

April – I met a great guy on Match.com, we started talking and decided we should go out. I was 44, he was 49. Both in the same decade, I didn’t think anything of it. Two days before we went out, he went and had a birthday. Suddenly I was going out with a 50-year-old man. Am I old enough to date a 50-year-old man?? (For the record, I am – and he’s fabulous. Even if he is 50.) <ding>

Oh! And Man/Boy moved out as planned. <ding ding>

May – The then-19-year-old son turned 20. TWENTY. <ding>

June – The then-44-year-old turned 45. Any time there’s an age that ends with a “5” that means you’re halfway to the next decade. So there I am. Halfway through my 40s. <ding>

July – July almost went without a hitch. Usual summer activities, got with friends, hung out with the Manfriend (hey, he’s 50), lived life and enjoyed it. Then my then-16-year-old daughter and I went on a whirlwind trip to Chicago, where she met with several modeling agencies and had three express serious interest. Suddenly, I saw her as her 3-year-old self living in Chicago – and wondering if she’d know what to do. <ding>

August – Now we’re here. Tomorrow morning that same daughter starts her last first day of high school, her senior year. She’s giddy, has spent the last week wondering what to wear (she actually contemplated sweats so it wouldn’t look like she thought it was a big deal) and is ready to get the year over with and start her life. <ding>

I, on the other hand, am ready to go whimper in a corner and wish the clock back 12 years.

Or maybe just five. Because I really do love my 40s.

**Disclaimer: Because I have guilt (hey, I’m Irish. Guilt is what we do). I by no means think 50 is old. I have many, many friends who are 50 and older, a few who will hit that magic number this year, and well, it’s just not old. Thinking of myself dating someone who was 50, though – that just seemed odd. Because I am, after all, still in my 20s. And 30s. And … well, you get it. Don’t you?

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Keeping its value

quartersEvery now and again something will stand out to me and create in my mind a burst of philosophical thought. Sometimes I act on it — use it to teach myself or my kids something — but most times it just disappears and never resurfaces.

 Today I had one of those thoughts.

I’ve just recovered from a bout of H1N1, which isn’t important other than while I was sick the last thing I wanted to drink was dark soda. Also not necessarily an issue here, except that my favorite drink in the world is Diet Coke. I’ve been healthy for three weeks now but dark soda still doesn’t hold much appeal, so when I get tired of water I go to the vending machines and get a can of Diet Sierra Mist.

My Diet Coke comes in a $1 20-ounce bottle; the Diet Sierra Mist comes in a 50-cent can. (We’re getting to the point, I promise.)

Today I took my dollar bill back to the vending area, bought my can of soda and brought the change back with me, two not-so-shiny quarters.

Just a bit ago I happened to glance over at the quarters, still sitting on my desk, and saw the top quarter was dingy, dirty, banged up and looking pretty worn. The ridges on the rim had been stripped, and Ol’ George was beginning to show his age.

Then I saw the date on the quarter: 1967. The same year I was born.

Am I looking that rough and worn? When people look at me, do they see someone who looks like she’s seen her fair share of tough times?

Then I had another thought: That quarter is still a quarter. It may look a little less shiny than the one it was sitting next to, but it’s no less valuable. Without that dingy quarter, the shiny one is nearly useless; together I could get another can of soda, a small bag of pretzels or an hour in a downtown parking space.

Sometimes I think we do the same thing to people we know, and those we don’t. We look only at the surface and dismiss them as being too old, too worn, too dingy. We forget the value we all still hold.

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