As you know if you read my rant about exercise last summer, Lizzie isn’t the biggest fan of physical activity, whereas I’m a huge proponent of getting exercise by doing outdoor things that you love rather than “working out.”
So, last Friday night:
Remember what I said last week, about not wanting to be an adolescent girl again? Turns out, I AM an adolescent girl again. Look at the horrifying evidence:
- Struggling with unwelcome changes in my body;
- Ready to explore the world and (re)find my place in it;
- Staring deeply into my own eyes while looking in a mirror and studying a book on how to look pretty.
I’d better explain that last one.
I have edited and cut and rewritten and cut this stupid, stupid essay that I can’t look at it anymore. It started out with a great, fun idea (see headline and PS) but I managed to turn it into a piece with an overworked metaphor and a preachy tone that is annoying me, which means it is bound to be even worse for you. But whatever. Read it if you want. I wash my hands of the damn thing. (With all my editing and cutting, I refused to edit out the balloon metaphor, because the picture from UP is so pretty.)
As an adult in today’s world, and one who spends a fair (though not obscene) amount of time on social media, I have absorbed enough self-help phrases and 12-step slogans and feel-good mantras to last me this lifetime and at least much of my next (although maybe I’ll be evolved enough by then that I won’t need them).
As middleaged women, we tend to have too much to do and to think about and to accomplish and to answer, and not enough time to meditate and sing and space out. I solve this problem, sometimes, by going for aimless drives in the foothills behind our town, giving myself space in my head to dream of everything or nothing. When the kids were little, I’d bring them on long rides with me, usually around sunset. We’d listen to music and they’d conk out. Then, if Paul and I were very careful and very lucky, we could transfer the kids to their beds without waking them and have an entire evening of grown-up time together.
I’m in a theater waiting for the show. My daughter is literally bouncing off her seat. To try to corral the excitement, which is beginning to annoy our neighbors (her bouncing is jiggling the entire row of seats and we’re getting death glares), I say, “Let’s play a game.”
Clearly, they’ve already driven me batshit crazy…
Ever find yourself so mixed up, emotionally, when with your kids that you’d like to unzip your skin and step quietly away rather than feel any more feelings? Of course you have. This type of emotional imbalance is just part of a mother’s world, I guess – and the ability to cause that imbalance is one of the tools our kids employ to drive us nuts while simultaneously filling us with feelings of love. If they didn’t fill us with so much joy, even during their most rotten moments, we would have no reason not to stab them with a gardening fork. So it is actually a survival skill of theirs.
Once women become middleaged, especially if they have a family, I think we often find we have lost a part of ourselves — that we’ve forgotten what we’re passionate about and don’t spend enough time nurturing ourselves. Do you agree? If so, read on.
I’ve talked about my love of singing before: how I sing along with the Muzak in the grocery store and don’t realize it (until the clerk says, “I guess you like this song”), sing Christmas Carols while I’m walking the dog (I have no idea why it’s always Christmas carols) or, like many of us, in the shower. I am blessed with a family that not only supports my singing in theory, but they never, ever ask me to shut up (though sometimes when Lizzie and I are singing together in the car, she’ll tell me not to sing so loudly because she either can’t hear the radio or herself).
I’m going to complain about being a middleaged woman (MAW) for just a minute and then I’ll move on. Ready? I’ve been sick since early October. Apparently I have screwy sinuses that are causing asthma attacks. My middleaged head feels constantly swollen and my breathing is tight. I’m driving my family crazy. I’m usually the fun one! Now I have a fever again.
I have so much sympathy, now, for people who are chronically ill. It sucks! It is depressing! It depresses those around me! I try to have a good attitude, but how much fun is it to be around someone who pretends to feel good and then slinks off to bed for the night at 4:00 pm? I’m going for a CT scan on Wednesday to find out what’s going on and hopefully will find some long-term solutions, so don’t worry about me. (Mom!)