Better with age?

I'm 46 years old.  Sometimes it feels like 106, sometimes 26.  Age has been on my mind quite a bit recently, not only because of the looming BIG 5-0, but because I've begun to think of myself differently.  No, I haven't decided I'm old, but as I watch my eldest daughter prepare for her second semester of college and my youngest get her driving permit, I see the end to one stage of my life--the longest stage, actually.  Child rearing.  I've realized that in not so many years, my role in my children's lives will be vastly different than it has been for the last 18 years. 

I'm not one of those women who has spent my life solely focused on my family and of course I've served myself more than a healthy share of guilt over it.  I've always worked full-time and I've always had that little ol' dream of being a writer, so I've been moving at the speed of light since the day my first was born.  There was a time when my kids were about 7 and 10 when the guilt over it really rode me.  I looked around and saw many of my friends doing the "mom-thing" without the day job and the dream of a second career and I felt inadequate and unworthy.  Then a girlfriend (who doesn't have kids, btw) said something to me that made so much sense.  She said, "If you didn't have a job and a dream, you'd be sitting in that same seat feeling guilty because your kids could never afford to do the things other kids were doing and you'd feel worthless because you'd look at the house, the laundry, the chores and think, is this it?"

And I knew she was right.

It's really hard to juggle everything.  People are always asking me how I do it.  Then they look at my kids and they think I must have neglected them somewhere.  But the fact is, I have a great kids and I have a fabulous relationship with them.  I think I taught them discipline (not the kind that involves corners and hard chairs--but the kind that involves focus and working for what you want).  I've taught them independence--because I wasn't there cutting the crust off their PBJ every time they wanted a snack.  And I've shown them that you really can have a family and a career.  (In my case, 2 careers).

While I hope they always reach for a little more than they can handle, I do hope my kids won't have to juggle quite as much as I do.  But I feel good that whatever is dished out, they can take.  I didn't raise cupcakes.  I raised strong, determined and loving young adults.

And what's that mean to me and the next stage?  Well, I'm not afraid of it.  I'm not going to feel like my purpose is moving out when my youngest goes off to college.  The empty nest isn't going to put me in a stage of depression (I know, I know--keep telling myself that one, ha). 

I'm looking forward to the next stage.  My relationships with my kids just keeps getting better and I know leaving the room down the hall won't mean leaving me.  And I will be able to forge on with that little ol' writing career and perhaps, one day, make it my ONLY career.  A girl can dream, right?  And, I'm happy to say, after almost 22 years of marriage, I'm looking forward to spending time with my husband again.

I remember when I was in my late 20s watching Oprah celebrate her 40th birthday and everyone telling her that life doesn't really start until the 40s.  I'm not sure if I agree with that, but each year I live seems to bring me more--more love, more fulfillment, more peace--so there is something in that whole "better with age" theory.

Thanks for listening to my musing!  Happy New Year!

Erin Quinn
HAUNTING WARRIOR, coming May 2010
HAUNTING BEAUTY, in bookstores NOW!
"A complex, mysterious and very satisfying story!”
~Diana Gabaldon, NYT Bestselling Author


  1. Hi Erin:
    Great post!

    I love this quote:

    ...but each year I live seems to bring me more--more love, more fulfillment, more peace--so there is something in that whole "better with age" theory.

    I think that's so true. I think the older we get the wiser we get and with that wisdom comes - I think the ability to love better/to be better friends/parents/spouses etc..

    You set an example for your daughters - you didn't tell them how they should be - you showed them. And that is valuable!


  2. Aw, thanks, Joanne! I hope it's a good example I've set and not a "workaholic" example. :)

  3. Wonderful article, Erin!

    Personally, I've felt that each decade really does get better. There's more confidence and acceptance within which can make all the difference.

    Even though I never had children, one of my dearest friends is raising two. She also works as a massage therapist AND as a vocalist in a band. She's often busy but her kids are well-adjusted, creative and happy. In fact when I'm around them, I'm always astonished thinking I've rarely seen such happy and well-behaved children.

    I think children learn more by watching their parents. Is mom happy and well-adjusted? Is she independent and creative? Then that must be what 'life' is all about!

    So my humble opinion is being a 'normal' human being, setting and reaching goals, exploring and embracing life is the best way to raise children!

    I loved this article!

    --Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul:

  4. I think that no matter what we do, moms feel the pressure to do a better job. When my kids were young I stayed home with them and took the flack for that, and the same thing later on when I went to work! It's all good, the proof is in the pudding.

  5. Hi Chiron & Sweepyjean, you are both so right. I certainly wouldn't want the message I send to my kids to be the needs of others should always be the most important--I just hope I taught them some balance in all the craziness. And Sweepyjean, you are so right--sometimes it's damned if you do and damned if you don't. :)

  6. With my birthday looming next Monday - the big 43 - its good to hear someone else's view point on the subject. Great post! :)

  7. 'I didn't raise cupcakes. I raised strong, determined and loving young adults.' - *high five*

    And to quote Joanna:

    'You set an example for your daughters - you didn't tell them how they should be - you showed them.' - Exactly.

    Really enjoyed your post.


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