Please Accept My Apology

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 tens of thousands of others who shared her post, had the proverbial been there, done that moment.

Yet as I hover at the mid-century mark of life I, too, feel the need to issue an 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.

An open apology to every woman I ever judged harshly because of her age. Life has a way of teaching us lessons. I have learned to say I am sorry.

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 or a sexy dress, 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.

If age has taught me one thing, it is simply this: who am I to judge?



  1. rin580 says

    Absolutely love this—so true.

  2. bohemianspiritedmom says

    great post. we all have that nasty voice that needs to be ignored. Sometimes I think the hardest part of being a woman is other women

      • Freedommuse says

        That voice is a compiled “tape” of what your mind absorbed from ages 0-7, it’s not you and you don’t have to listen to it. My minister calls her’s Aunt Rose, and she thanks it for sharing and then it shuts up. I like Landmark Education’s term for it – “the already always talking”.

  3. says

    I am much more accepting and forgiving at middle age, just like you. “Live and let live” is a great way to go about my day!

  4. says

    I’ve found that everything is better at the half-century mark…well, most things; my knees are not. I am definitely wiser and more mature. I had to apologize to all mothers who use the tv as a babysitter…until my nephew stayed with me for a week. Suddenly, there was nothing wrong with letting the kid watch tv while I took a nap/read the newspaper/quieted my brain.

    Eleanore Wells, Author, The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree

  5. The Diva (@TheDivaofDating) says

    At 57, I realize I did the same thing.. and now I can’t imagine not thinking I’m sexy, vibrant and living life wisely. Your apology resonates. Thank you.
    Walker aka The Diva of Dating

  6. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says

    My daughter just told me that my hair’s too long and curly for someone my age. Is that the jealousy speaking?

  7. says

    bravo! i remember thinking the same thing about mothers of older children. wondering why they missed them so much, after all they were grown. now realizing that 2, 22 or 32, its all the same. your heart soars at their successes and aches when they struggle. first day of school, first day of college, first day of work-first days are first days. you still hope that someone will share a toy, sit with them at lunch, ask them to go out after work…

    • Empty Nester Coach says

      Amazing, how we don’t want them living with us forever, yet have a difficult time making the transition to encourage, and teach them how to SOAR! If we can do this, then we will soar higher then ever before. We will have our cake and eat it too!! Well, maybe not with our metabolism slowing down, but you know what i mean. “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence”
      ― Denis Waitley

  8. dianabletter says

    This was a great, honest post! Thanks for sharing it. I have learned that expressions like “I would never…” and “I will never…” should never be taken too seriously!
    I had a friend who did complain about my 4 kids — then under the age of 6 — and then apologized to me after she had kids of her own. We had to laugh. It’s great to be able to grow and change and not take ourselves — or our opinions — too seriously.
    Diana Bletter
    Author of the forthcoming memoir, The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle

  9. Empty Nester Coach says

    And how about judging our parents? How many of us said “I’m going to parent differently, better, smarter….?

  10. says

    I’m over 50, and here are my thoughts: I wish my eyes weren’t so puffy, and I wish my joints didn’t complain like they do.

    But…apart from that: how thankful I am to be married to a man who still chases me, and who I am ferociously proud of and in love with! And how thankful I am to have kids who love me!

    And how little I deserve either one of those blessings.

    • says

      Seems to me the luckiest people are those who realize how lucky they are. You seem doubly blessed and, surely deservings of those blessings. So so so glad you commented here.

  11. says

    I also, can relate to what you have written. As I near 50, just over 7 months away, I know I’ve done every one of the things you have written about. I too apologize to all the women & men I’ve judged in the past. I hope in the future I will remember to be kinder in my thoughts and actions towards others. I hope when I encounter a person who has the courage and wisdom to dance to their own music of life, I can learn from them and not be afraid to find my own music and dance to it.

    I’ve realized that helping your kids/family/friends at any age is fine as long as they are trying to move ahead in life. Heaven knows when a person might find themselves needing a little help along the way in this game of life. Having said that I’m also not a sucker either. If you aren’t trying to move forward in your life then all bets are off.

  12. says

    I’ve always tried to accept others for how they were, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there were many times when I didn’t audibly (or visibly) turn my nose up at people…I did it in my head. One of the things my kids and I joke about now, but was something we said often when they were younger was, “That’s what makes the world go round.” I still believe that, but now I usually just say, “Whatever!”

  13. says

    I really resonated with your thoughts on the age that “parenting” ends. I’m not sure how we came to think that we’d be “done” by the time our kids reached 18 (20, 22). Maybe it was because we felt were were done needing our parents at that age. My guess is, we probably still did more leaning on them than we recall. But your wonderful post made me feel a little more patient. Thanks for that.

  14. says

    I really resonated with your thoughts on when “parenting” ends. I’m not sure how we came to feel that our job would be done by the time they turned 18 (20, 22). Maybe it’s because we felt that we stopped needing our parents at that age. Odds are, we probably continued to lean on them (when it was convenient) for more than we recall. Anyhow, your post made me feel a little more patient and a little less alone. Thank you for that.

  15. AlwaysARedhead says

    With three kids in college/university, parenting assistance will not be ending anytime soon for my husband and I.

  16. Chloe Jeffreys says

    I’ve thought many of these thoughts myself. One thing that fascinates me is how so many of our opinions about how middle-aged women should comport themselves have to do with them not drawing any attention to themselves. It seems the only women who show good taste in midlife are those who make themselves invisible.

    I say let’s not have that! Why should the opinions of young people matter in the least? Who cares if they don’t like our jeans, or our “embarrassing” PDA? They aren’t the boss of us! Young people are not the arbiters of what older people should do. And who cares if their little young sensibilities are offended?

    So, like you, I owe older women an apology. And my first act of contrition is to stop giving a shit about what young people think about me. They’re opinion of me is none of my business. And one day they’ll be middle-aged themselves. Ha!

  17. Chloe Jeffreys says

    Oops! I misspelled “their”. Now that’s embarrassing.

  18. Carpool Goddess says

    I remember when my mom was the age I’m at now and thought “wow, she’s old.” Well, it doesn’t feel old to me now. I think there is a twenty-five year old trapped somewhere inside of me :)

  19. says

    Isn’t this the truth? Our biggest critics besides ourselves? Other women.

  20. says

    At 47 I now realize all my “I would never’s” have come back to bite me in the, shall we say, butt. I had a long list of things I would “never do” when I had kids, turned 30, and turned 40. Now I think the only “I would never” is now, I will never say never again!! Lol! Thanks for a great and honest post.

  21. says

    Each and every point you brought here is (at least for me) absolutely true! It’s important to know we’re not alone out there. Thanks for sharing.

  22. says

    I can definitely see my twenty something self judging the older generation in the exact manner. If only we could put an old head on young shoulders. We would have had more respect if that were the case. Nicely written.

  23. says

    Love this. Funny, I just wrote a post about the same type of thing on today’s blog. I found a letter written to me by my mother when she was 35 – telling me I shouldn’t judge her as being “old.” And here I am, more than 20 years older than she was when she wrote it, feeling young and vibrant.

  24. says

    I’m 72 and I hate when people use the word granny as a put down. First of all it’s an honor to be a grannie and just you wait. You will be a grannie too some day and still feel like a teenager on the inside.

    Great post. Thank you.


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