Kara Gebhart Uhl, who blogs at Pleiades Bee, published a great piece a couple of weeks ago that resonated with thousands of readers. She issued an open apology to all parents she had judged so harshly during her child-free years. I, like many of the 47,000 others who shared her post, had the proverbial been there, done that moment. But as I hover at the mid-century mark of life I, too, feel the need to issue my apology to all women who crossed my path for the past five decades and in the quietest, never to be uttered part of my brain I thought, I would never dress like that, act like that, eat like that or treat my kids like that and, here is the kicker, if I were her age. Well here I am, officially her age, and now it all looks, well, so completely different.
So my apologies.
I humbly apologize to every woman over fifty, hell in my teens it was probably every woman over thirty, who wore a pair of tight jeans, looked great and yet my youthful self found fault. It’s not hard to look hot at fifty, it just may not look that way to a nineteen year old. This apology covers everyone who I silently accused of trying to dress like their daughter as well as those who didn’t look great in their jeans because we should all wear what makes us feel good and the onlookers be damned.
My feelings of contrition extend to every middle aged couple whose public displays of affection brought a contemptuous sneer from that black place in my brain. If you are lucky enough at life’s midpoint (or in fact at any point) to have someone who can’t take their eyes or hands off you then just remember when others whisper behind your back, it is the jealousy speaking.
Then there are those who I felt shouldn’t have another: fill in the blank. Another drink, another piece of cake, another husband. Who died and left me to be mom??? And where does that nasty voice come from? It is those of us who truly know how to enjoy life who in the end have won the game. I am pretty sure there are no awards bestowed at the end for sanctimonious self control.
Finally, when I was the mother of young kids, I presumed that after eighteen, twenty, twenty-two (the target kept moving as my kids got closer) that our children no longer needed us. I thought parents who were still helping kids after this point with money and other assistance were not doing them any favors. It turns out that raising children is a much, much longer process than I once thought. And I cannot tell you how glad I am that it is.
So please accept my apology. Life looks awfully different when it is half over and you hope the fun part, the great clothes, eat-what-you-want, discover romance again, part is just about to begin.