Today is the first day of my 49th year here on planet earth. Unlike all of my previous birthdays, this one comes with a sense of dread as I think of the changes coming in my 50’s.
“Winter is Coming,” and I don’t like it.
On Being a 40-year-old Woman
I have LOVED being a woman in her 40’s. Seriously. Your 40’s are better than any decade before that. Being in your 40’s is freeing.
On their 40th birthday, I send friends this video.
In your forties, you are older, have more insurance, and you just don’t give a damn anymore.
When I turned 40, my kids were 5 and 8. I was over all the “new parent” stuff, and comfortable in my role as a stay-at-home mom. At 40, I was thirteen years into marriage and settled into a good groove. My husband was also settled and successful in his career.
No major life changes occurred (so far) in my 40’s – we didn’t add more children, get divorced, or move. Noone in our family died. We did see two marriages (my siblings) and the addition of three cousins (again, my siblings), but those were happy and exciting changes.
I’m Not Looking Forward to My 50th Birthday
I’m not looking forward to my 50th birthday next year, and it isn’t for the reasons you might think.
It has nothing to do with the physical or mental parts of me turning fifty.
With each notch of maturity on my belt, I feel more confident, smart, and comfortable in my own skin. I’m a life-long learner. So with each added year, my world broadens as I experience new and exciting things.
Physically my hair is already mostly gray. I think. I honestly don’t know since I have been dyeing it red for the last 17 years. (Surprise! I’m not a natural redhead.) The laugh lines and crinkles around my eyes appeared a long time ago, but they don’t bother me.
The weight I thought I would lose a decade ago (or two, or three) is still there. And the consequences of not eating healthy or exercising have already shown up in the form of diabetes and high cholesterol.
I Dread the Major Life Events of My 50s
What I dread are the major life changes that are inevitable during the 5th decade of my life.
My Kids are Going to Leave Home
A wise, older friend once told me:
Raising a preschooler is hard. But enjoy it while you can. One day your kids are going to grow up, leave you, and you are going to look around and realize all that you have left is your husband.
You spend 18+ years nurturing your kids and teaching them how to be functioning human beings. Then, just when you start seeing the reward for all your hard work, they leave home.
What kind of stupid plan is that?
My son is entering his senior of high school, and my daughter is a freshman this year. During my 50s, they will both go off to college, graduate, and begin their adult lives.
During my 50’s, it is quite possible that one or both of my children will meet someone, fall in love, get married, and/or have children. They will go from being part of my family to being part of their own family that has traditions, in-jokes, and experiences that don’t include me. And I have big FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
My Dogs are Going to Die
My Husband May Retire
My husband qualified for full retirement two years ago. With kids still in school, and me without a retirement account, it wasn’t an option to take the retirement. But sometime during my 50’s he probably will be.
That same wise, older friend also said this:
Last year I love my husband more than I ever have in my life. But this year, he needs to go on a long trip without me.
I am not looking forward to my husband being home all the time.
I enjoy having the house to myself during the weekdays. It is peaceful and quiet without him here listening to a loud tv or screaming curse words because the dogs peed on the floor (which doesn’t happen when he isn’t here).
My life is easier because I’m not cleaning up after (or smelling) the trash and unrinsed dishes he leaves in the sink or jumping up to pick up the dishes and food he left on the coffee table and the dogs are now eating.
I like being able to come and go as I please without anyone asking where I’m going or if I can pick something up while I’m out.
But what I dread the most, is getting my husband to understand that his retirement means my retirement also.
As a stay-at-home wife, my job has been to take care of everything at home so he can concentrate on his job and provide for our family. But when he retires, I expect him to take part of the burden of household responsibility off my shoulders so I can enjoy at least a partial retirement. And that doesn’t mean me telling him what to do. It means him taking responsibility, noticing a need, and taking care of it.
I May Lose a Parent
Right now my parents and my in-laws are all alive and living independently in their own homes. My in-laws are both 78-years-old. My Dad just turned 75, and my Mom is the youngest at age 70.
In ten years when I’m near the end of my 50’s, chances are high that at least one of them will no longer be here.
I have seen signs of aging in each one of them. They move slower. They forget things. The each have a medical condition that only worsens with age.
Sometimes I accidentally get a glance at them with nonbiased eyes and realize how much they have aged.
It scares me because I know we are on a fast-approaching deadline. I love each of them with all my heart and soul, and I can’t imagine living without them.
As I type, both dogs are curled up in their beds under my desk. Since I am at home during the day, I usually spend more time with them than with the human members of my family.
The oldest is Daisy. I am her person. From the moment she came home from the animal shelter, she has spent every waking moment by my side. We don’t know her exact age, but she was at least a couple of years old when she joined our family in 2009. Lily is a goofball and still acts like a puppy despite being 7-years-old.
They are both healthy little rat terriers, but chances are good they won’t live through another decade.
And when they die, we won’t be getting other pets. For at least a while, we will enjoy the freedom to travel without making pet arrangements.
But Life Goes On
But like it or not, life goes on and in a year I will turn fifty. But this year I will enjoy being 49-years-old and hope the year is slow before my 50th birthday.