Wednesday, August 5, 2009

WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?

I mean, me. Who the hell is me?

My older kids are at their father’s this week, and my husband is out of town working. So it’s just me and the baby. And during the normal work week, I don’t get to spend much time with her – she wakes up, goes to daycare, and crashes shortly after she comes home. So I’m alone this week, for long periods of time. This doesn’t happen very often – as you can imagine… I have four kids, a husband with high energy, a dog and a cat. I don’t even get to piss unaccompanied, because the dog follows me, perhaps hoping he’ll get to chew the empty toilet paper roll THIS TIME. My husband is the type who thinks out loud, so frequently, I’m sitting beside him silently, wrapped up in my own thoughts, and he blurts out some non sequitur that I then frantically try to interpret. I try to nap sometimes, to get some quiet, but someone is always barging in – complaining about something. Or the tv gets turned up so loud, I pull a pile of pillows over my head to block the noise. Or the dog jumps on the bed and attempts to sleep on my feet, which drives me absolutely batshit crazy. My husband has been known to interrupt my nap to discuss our income taxes.

But this week, I have that quiet. I get the peace I’ve craved. I’ve got time to do what *I* want to do without considering anyone else's desires. Well, except the baby’s, but she desires a clean diaper, some snuggles, and a nice warm bottle. Easy Peasy. So what do I do with all this time – with this opportunity I’ve craved?

You know the answer to this. It’s not so hard. What do I do?

Nothing.

Nothing at all.

This is not the week I study French, to brush up on my skills. This is not the week I rent a French horn, to experience the pure joy of playing again. This is not the week I start my novel. Nor is it the week I start training for the marathon. But it is the week that I start researching womens' midlife crises.

Here’s a quote I pulled from Wikipedia (which is NOT A RELIABLE SOURCE, my kids tell me… but whatever.. this one doesn’t seem too far off the mark):

Individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis have some of these feelings:

  • search of an undefined dream or goal
  • a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
  • desire to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
  • need to spend more time alone or with certain peers

A man I know (NOT my hubby, in case you are wondering...)is going through this in a very destructive manner – his crisis is a classic. He doesn’t seem to realize he’s in a typical midlife thing. He thinks it’s a "truly new in the universe" type of personal reinvention. Dork. It is said that for women, the midlife crisis isn’t quite as violent. Men tend to wake up one day and realize they are old. Women are constantly reminded that they are aging ...tick tock tick tock goes that clock. So women aren’t quite as surprised by it.

My midlife “thing” seems pretty typical too:

I am in search of a dream or a goal – one that is sort of defined, but the path to it is anything but…

I don’t really have a sense of remorse for goals not accomplished. I just realize time’s a wastin’.

I do desire to achieve a feeling of youthfulness. I want a tummy tuck, to run a marathon and to put my tits back where they belong.

I do desire to spend more time alone with a certain peer – my husband.

I don’t want to throw out the whole kit and caboodle. I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water, cut off my own nose to spite my face, nor do I want to stretch any other clich├ęs further past their elastic limits…

I just want to redirect a bit.

Here’s a quote from a really cool article Time magazine article by Leslie Whitaker:

Many feel that along the way, while they were getting their promotion or having their kids or managing their households, they set aside something important that they want to retrieve--their hiking boots, their screenplay, a law degree. "Everybody I know has a version of this," says Susan Reimer-Torn, now a life coach in New York City. "Phase I, you kind of put all the pieces together in your mid- or late 20s, and it almost always involves some kind of trade-off. You figure out what you absolutely must have and end up giving up something else. But in Phase II, which generally occurs after 40, many women begin to review the terms of that original trade-off. If there's a Phase III, it may be taking your life in a whole new direction. Often a collision of the personal and professional triggers the reinvention.

So I guess I’m at Phase II – I happily gave up traveling, novel writing, many hobbies and goals to focus on my family in Phase I. Wouldn’t do it any differently if I had a choice. But now, I’m in a better place. I make more money – I’m smarter – I’m wiser. I can juggle more, and I know myself much better. I’m reviewing the terms of the original trade-off.

…which brings me to the next question – for myself, and for YOU, gentle reader. What precious thing was sacrificed earlier in life that there is now a desire to reclaim? What goal was put aside that now needs to be nudged back to the front and center of your attention?

I’ll be chomping on this question, and will share more in a future blog. But if you don’t mind too much… how about you chomp too and share with me your thoughts in the comments section?

Merci Beaucoup mes amis.