Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Fifty!

I think there is a freedom that comes with the simple statement “I’m fifty”. I have used it over and over the last year. When I forget something, I excuse myself with, “Well I am over fifty”. When my Mom tries to tell me I shouldn’t drive alone from Florida to Ohio I say, “I’m fifty; I can do what I want”. When the Doctor says I have to work on that last twenty pounds I say, “Get real, I’m over fifty”.

It has become the basis of everything I can or can’t or will or won’t do.

I have to admit at this time of my life there is no period I would go back and relive. No age in my past that calls for me to experience again the moments leading up to this wonderful freedom.
I loved each and every one of those phases of my life, but for the first time I feel the ability to put myself to the forefront. No longer do the scrapes and bruises of crying children come first and foremost. They are adults now, out on their own perusing their dreams. They struggle through the tumultuous adult years that I look back on fondly, but am elated that chapter of my life is over.

But those kids look at me differently now also. Maybe it was because all those years I spent trying to set a good example. Maybe it was that being a parent consumed so much of our time that we couldn’t just be ourselves. When my husband and I travel now, and we do go whenever we get a chance, my kids ask if we might be home soon. “Maybe, maybe not.” They think we’re crazy. Who are these people that took over our parents? The parents, who for all our younger years put a hundred and fifty percent into raising their children. Who took us to every dance class, music class, and sporting event? Who dropped everything for dentist, doctor, orthodontist and speech therapists? Who planned every summer, winter, and school vacation so that the family could spend time together? Where are they? They ask. I’ll tell you. They turned fifty and decided it was time to find the people we lost when we became parents. Again let me reiterate. We loved being parents and all the craziness that includes. But everyone loses just a little of themselves when their lives are consumed with running the lives of others.

So the kids think we’re crazy. They think their father has a strange sense of humor. They don’t realize that it’s hard to be funny when you have to discipline a fourteen year old girl for sneaking out to the beach at two o’clock in the morning. Or a son for skipping school. Or another daughter for trying the old, "I’m staying at a girlfriend’s house" only to have the girl’s mother call to talk to her daughter that’s staying at your house. Hmmmmmm… Were we born yesterday? So yeah, your Dad’s always been funny. And yes, your Mother has always been a bit of a free spirit. These are two of the things that initially attracted them to each other. But those things were gathered up and put into a special chest in the attic. They lay up there just waiting for that magical time when we could pull them out and say, “Ah I remember you.”

So we travel. We go to concerts. We kayak and parasail. We golf, we write, we read. Yes, we work. But that’s different to. We work for us. For the big payoff, retirement. The years ahead where we can relax and enjoy the fruits of our labors. But in the meantime, we’re fifty, so we can have all the fun we want.

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