Tag Archives: graduation

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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It’s not a vacation until someone pulls their hair out …

frazzled-lady1In just under three hours I leave my office behind and take off for what could be a glorious, sunny 10-day (well, 11-day) vacation.

It could be glorious, but I’m betting there will be more stress than glory.

During my time off I’ll be spending two days at freshmen orientation at an unnamed university in Ames; purchasing buns, pop, water, plates, silverware, napkins, beans and decorations for a graduation party; decorating, hosting and tearing down said graduation party; conducting 3-4 interviews (yes, it’s work, but it has to be done); and writing a story (see previous duty). Yes, my head IS spinning.

I’ve known this party was coming for almost a year. I’ve had the date set since I reserved the pavilion last August, and I think I put out the initial Facebook invitations to family back in February or March. You’d think that would give me time to be organized.

You’d think so, but you’d be wrong.

Organization has never been my strong point. I put important – and some seemingly not-so-important – reminders on my phone so I don’t forget. Like my daughter’s graduation ceremony. My weekly meetings. A reminder to take my anxiety medications (yeah, you’d think that’s one reminder I wouldn’t need, right? Wrong.) When to tune in to watch “Master Chef” or “Hell’s Kitchen.” I get reminders 15 minutes before each event, just in case.

Apparently I need to add tasks, like, “Buy the buns for daughter’s graduation party three months from now,” or, “Make decorations for graduation party so all you have to do is put them up.”

I always find myself in this exact spot – wishing I could turn back time and do things better, be more organized, get prepared earlier.

My one defense is finances: As a single mom on a budget, with a once-a-month paycheck and no credit cards (I gave them up during the divorce), buying “extras” isn’t always easy, especially when there are plenty of “extras” that seem to come up: oil changes, registration tags, parking tickets (hey, they’re pretty pricey at the hospital where I work!), birthdays, drinks with friends … you get the picture. Budgeting is also not one of my strongest points, but that’s another blog post.

A second, smaller defense I have is space: Teen Girl and I live in a modest two-bedroom apartment with limited storage space – and two giant dogs. Keeping 12 12-packs of pop or 35 packages of buns on hand is no small feat, and could result in loss of space for dishes or cooking or sleeping or showering or any combination thereof.

Defenses aside, here I am. Eight days from now I will be hoping everything is put together and the rains don’t fall and the skies are blue and the burgers and brats and beans and potato salad and cupcakes and mints feed the masses. I just hope I haven’t pulled all of my hair out by then.

 

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On to 2010

Every year I make a list of things I resolve to complete during the next 12 months. I write them down, fold them up and put them in an envelope, then store them away until the end of December, when I pull them out to see how many I’ve actually accomplished.

This year I’m making it a little more public. If I can’t do a great job of holding myself accountable to my resolutions, then maybe anyone reading this can help me along.

1. Yeah, yeah, the weight loss thing. Every year it’s the same thing, and every year it’s the same result. This time I have a goal in mind: I want to drop at least one size before my son’s high school graduation in May. Notice there are no pound restrictions attached? I don’t care what I weigh, just what I feel comfortable in.

2. Do something new and different each month. I’m not thinking of bungee jumping or riding a camel bareback, but things that take me out of my comfort level, just for a bit. Like, when meeting a friend for a drink going on into the bar and waiting alone. Going to a movie alone. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee. Push the personal development just a little.

3. Do a “vegetarian day” one day each week. Take the day to cleanse out all the fats and toxins absorbed by meat.

4.  Enjoy the kids’ company. I was once cajoled for spending too much time with my kids and not enough time on me, but you know what? My time with the kids is limited. I’ve got one graduating this year and the other in three years – and then I’ll have so much time with myself I won’t know what to do.

5. Breathe. Sometimes — a lot of times — I get so caught up in the busy-ness of life that I forget to breathe. I need to remember to do that more often.

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