When I turned 40, I felt like I was having a second awakening. Now, that doesn’t mean I woke up one day and felt better–I felt worse about a lot of things–watching your kids grow up and start adulting can be hard.
But what I did notice is that I felt more equipped to handle things simply because I had lived through more difficult experiences and emotions than ever, and I was still around to talk about it all.
I’m now in my mid-forties and with each passing year I’ve realized something: You use the good, the bad, and the ugly as a road map to navigate the second part of your life.
View of Life from Your Mid-Forties
1.You may have teenagers who make you cry and frustrate the hell out of you.
The truth is that parenting teenagers is really hard–I don’t care how good your child is. This time in your life will required more Kleenex, Tylenol, and anti-anxiety medication than ever. Just do what you need to do in order to make it through to the next day, and let the rest (I’m taking about guilt, shame, and going to that Sports Booster’s meeting) go.
2. You have no time for fake friends.
Someone who is blowing sunshine up your backside has about as much use to you as that fondue pot you got for Christmas 10 years ago, that has been collecting dust. You’ve been through enough friends to realize when the real deal is near. And you know that’s a real-deal relationship is the only kind you want or need in your life.
3. You no longer clean like the dickens before company comes over.
You stop wiping down the windowsills because you realize no one looks at them. You’ve busted your back enough times to realize if you put all your energy into the pre-game, you don’t enjoy your guests, decide you hate having people over, and your expectations are never met.
Saving energy to focus on relaxing and having a good time instead of fluffing every pillow (they are only going to get messed up) and vacuuming under the sofa (where all the dust bunnies land when you have guests anyway) are not necessary. But, you being present is.
4. You have no desire to fit in where you don’t belong.
If that mom group isn’t your speed, you realize it’s more rewarding to step away than to try and feel accepted. When you are uncomfortable somewhere, you have the courage to step away. If you don’t feel at home or welcome in certain places or around people you realize that you have a choice. You can keep trying or you can stop trying altogether. It’s not like high school when you felt you didn’t have a choice and you needed to conform in order to feel accepted.
5. You know which jeans make your butt look good and you don’t have a problem spending extra money on them.
You’ve earned the damn right to spend a few extra bucks on your favorite jeans. It makes you feel better, and that’s all the reason you need. You don’t feel like you should skimp on clothes like you did in your broke 20s, or when they kids were tiny and having them look nice was more important. Your butt and your confidence deserve the very best.
6. You don’t have the energy to argue with people over dumb stuff.
You’ve discovered letting crap go is a better use of your energy than trying to prove you are right, or getting others to see things your way. This is the time in your life when you are happier if people want to believe what suits them. Even if you don’t agree with something they say or do, in order to preserve your mental-health you let them do their thing. Then, you mind your own business, and save your energy to make changes in your life instead of trying to get someone else to change theirs.
7. You know what you deserve.
Instead of getting as mad as you once did, you say goodbye. Things become crystal clear at this age. You know what you deserve in a partner, friendships, and a in a turkey club sandwich. If you don’t get what you deserve you know it, even if you don’t act on it and return the sandwich and ask for more bacon, or tell your friend that they are taking advantage of you.
You have days when you get really good at speaking up, and others when you suck at it and swear you will do better next time. The important thing is at this age: you’ve been through enough to know when something is off– and as the saying goes, “knowledge is power.”
8. You are in the midst of hormonal shifts.
Whether you want to admit it or not, this is happening. One night you are so exhausted you can’t see straight and you fall asleep with your clothes on. The next, you can’t sleep and toss and turn. You are running hot all the damn time and your kids beg you to turn up the heat. You have no clue when you are going to menstruate again because your schedule flew out the window long ago, and your moods are no indication either. You literally feel like you are suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome every second.
I love being a middle-aged woman. Not because I don’t care about anything anymore, because nothing could be further from the truth. It’s because I know how to care about things that are actually going to have an impact on my life.
And I know how to let the rest go.
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