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