I think in my Horticulture magazine - and went for it - worked well until…
Ok, we’ve spoken about going back to being five years old and 10, then back to our twenties and to being 30-somethings once again. But to go back to being 40, nope, that’s just not my idea of a great fantasy.
But WHY, do you ask?
Maybe the word, teenager, comes to mind.
Or say divorce, as many of us had the angst of experiencing in that last ditch effort to, “get it right.” Teenager, is a long word. It appears between the ages of 13 and 19. There’s so much to cover. Parties, periods, driving nightmares, prom, boyfriend dramas, girlfriend disappointments, drug temptations, beer and alcohol.
Sounds like a boat load of crud to me, being a teenager.
At the age of 40, making our life work without major stress, was no small feat either. Between our kid’s agendas, monetary concerns and hormone-filled mornings, it wasn’t a cakewalk, not by any means.
How many times did you have the same scene with your child about where they could go and not go? When they needed to be home. Or better yet, the discussion of age-appropriate clothing and the snarly looks, I could quickly forget those forever.
Do you remember when it all sort of escalated with each child? Each was different, and I’ll give you that some kids experienced teenage life without as much drama.
But, didn’t the sibs make up for it?
Of course throw in divorce and everything magnifies. How easy was it for them to play one parent off of the other? How crafty were they with their manipulative tactics? After all, we have to admit; guilt is a strong motivator for appeasement.
If we’d only chosen well for ourselves, set the right examples, given them a life like “The Brady Bunch” of our lifetime.
But, so many of us, myself included, screwed that whole marriage thing up.
Either we rushed into it, married for all the wrong reasons, didn’t stay faithful, the laundry list of reasons is extensive.
Who cares now, we got through it. And, with lots of trial and error, our children did too.
So we’re now the seniors in the room with all that life experience.
Never was there a better motivator for shutting up than the sins of our past.
I mean who are we to evaluate their spouses now? To insist they marry instead of merely live together. What on earth makes us think that if they asked us to make their choices for them, that we would choose a better path through life.
But, let’s give credit where credit is due. We did do our best, at least most of us did. We had honorable intentions. We worked within the skill-set life bestowed upon us. No one gets to control inertia or your parents.
Our adult children will have to do the same.
We hope, that they’ll be more lucky, more discerning, less impulsive.
It’s hard to say, as they’re barely on their way to life’s trials, the time demands, the embarrassment of loving teenagers that act like you disgust them. Or, how about the constant criticism of what outfit you’re wearing or how inept you are. The looks they dealt out at your choices in music. For many of our kids, we’re dumb from about 15 years on. We don’t get smart again till we hit 30. The fact is, they will always be smarter. Is that the secret sauce no one told us about when we decided to make a baby? The fact that our children would feel immensely more intelligent, wiser, just better all our lives?
Just give it time.
There’s such sweet reward in watching young parents begin to juggle the scrutiny of their children. To start managing the mouthy, precocious comments of the new geniuses in their family.
Gosh, this must sound so cynical!
Come on, no one remembers only the good times.
Seriously, are you honestly going to tell me your kids were angels all the time?
If so, move on. This isn’t going to resonate with you.
But the irony is, we wanted our kids to break free. Our goal was for them to be their own person, with their own opinions, and priorities. Who wants the cling-on parent, whose desperate need for attention overshadows your need to grow up?
As I sit here, pondering that time in my life, it seems like the worst roller coaster ever. But was it? Yup, I think maybe so.
One moment my sweet son would be sensitive, surprising me with compassion and common sense. Then the next, he’d be upset and throw something up against the wall in anger and slam his door. It was a real treat sometimes, as a single mom, to walk in and see him laying on the couch, devouring every snack and giving me the silent treatment. Yes, I mean silence, it wasn’t golden, not at that point, it was deafening.
Not a “how was your day, Mom?” no, that wasn’t happening.
So as you read this, are you saying, jeez what kind of monsters did she raise?
Well, let me tell you, three less-than-perfect kids. Two girls and a boy. Yes, “and then there was three.” My mom warned me three was an uneven number, but I wasn’t listening, no way!
After the third pregnancy, I’d had enough. My body swelled so much with my third; I swore it was God’s way of saying, “enough already!”
They say the answer to whether you were a good parent is in the results. As people, as citizens, as the most special adults to me on the planet, they’re right up there on my list. Without bragging, because I find that ridiculous, let’s suffice to say, I couldn’t be prouder of my adult children. They are the single, best decisions of my life! Do I still question some of their statements, decisions, attitudes, duh, of course!
They aren’t me.
They’re all three as different as night and day. Why on earth did I think they would be three peas in a pod or is the expression two peas in a pod? Well, you get it.
Genetics played a huge role in their personalities, choices, preferences and of course looks. We’re just the “baby makers,” in so many ways. Sure, their values, sense of security, ability to pull themselves up after mistakes, we tried to instill that in them.
But back to being 40.
What was good about it?
We still looked impressive, right?
That’s worth noting.
We had our hair; our bodies weren’t twenty, but still not bad.
Sex was outstanding still.
Our parents were good, not like now, dropping like flies.
No dementia or incontinence to deal with or writing eulogies yet.
Our friends certainly weren’t talking about knee operations or arterial fib. We could laugh at our childhood mistakes and how silly we were with our goofy hairdos of the 80’s.
Old age wasn’t on our agenda, and we had no clue what that would feel like. Heck, we were still going to live to be 100, and nobody was getting prostate cancer at 40.
What was that anyway?
Our biggest deal was 50, whew that was still a ways away!
Yup, 40 was a treadmill of demands, but life was full. The elevator was going up, and we were enjoying the ride.
Our careers were demanding, our children were demanding, and our world demanded success at every turn.
For many of us, the defining moments were blurred between custody battles, alimony payments and empty, lonely evenings with less than happy campers.
But, we emerged.
We got through it.
For the lucky ones, they stayed committed to their soulmates. They didn’t have to split time up on the holidays or banter back and forth about dealing with surly teenagers.
They were on a winning team; we were struggling to stay in their league.
But, little did we know, many had similar “children challenges.”
But, at some point, we came to terms with our errors in judgment.
We fixed our situations.
So would I go back?
No, not me.
Would you? Be honest.
Wouldn’t we more than likely, even with twenty-twenty hindsight, make some of the same mistakes? Hard to say, but I’m not risking it. Go back to 40, nope, not doing it!
But, what I wouldn’t give to be at their college graduation ceremonies one more time. Or to see my son play soccer on the all-star team just to drop out next season. Life is a pendulum of happy and sad, tough and surreal situations. “That’s life. That’s what the people say.”
We were the cool kids.
The ones who brought in the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Monkeys, and don’t forget, Disco.
We made overalls “the best thing since sliced bread.”
No one was going to be hipper than us. Not then, not ever!
Life’s very humbling.
Now, we get dismissed as our adult children speak to each other as if we’re the dinosaurs.
It’s our payback for doing the same thing to our parents.
Oh come on, didn’t you ever ignore your parents, act as if they were so out of it, you couldn’t imagine how they got there?
Funny how the tide rolls in and out every day, and so do these new generations.
They’re our future, our promise of tomorrow, our hope for a continuation of the perpetual “joy ride” life can truly be at times. Little do they know we get the biggest treat of all – grandchildren!
Let’s focus on the 40 reasons we have to be happy.
The 40 reasons to celebrate life, today, tomorrow and always.
The 40 ways we can better our lives, keep healthy, appreciate one another and further our educations.
Let’s stay relevant, as much as we can, like we discussed here: How to retire and feel with-it. Let’s keep our chins up despite new challenges and please, let’s love one another.
There are over 40 million ways we arrived here, to this place, at this time.
We’ll never know the many people we have affected, nor the huge effects we have had on our crazy world.
We WERE 40 and so will you be someday.
Enjoy it, live it to the fullest and remember all of life is such a gift.
For 40 is just the beginning.