What they don’t tell you about middle age

I’ve finally hit the stage in life where I have to check that box “40-45 years” when I’m filling out a form, and I’m rapidly approaching the stage when I will be checking the next box down on that list. And, although I really and truly feel like I am at the high point in my life – physically, spiritually and emotionally – there are still a few things that get me some days.

These are the things that no one tells you about middle age.  The things, like the little things of parenting (like getting barfed on and how many years you really will go without a good night’s sleep) that you really can’t believe or appreciate until you actually experience it.  Event if someone told you, and no one will, these are the things that sneak up on you and smack you in the back of the head with the realization that you really and truly are middle-aged. Even if you still feel 23 in your head… you’re just not. Not anymore.

Here are a few of the realizations I’ve had lately:

Even though the kids are old enough to sleep through the night, I still don’t. I don’t know if it is the conditioning of the last ten-plus years of waking up sporadically to settle little ones back into bed (although, to be perfectly honest, SuperMan usually did that. And that is part of why he is SuperMan to me.)  I think, more likely, it has to do with the middle-aged hot flashes I have and the fact that I can’t seem to get comfortable at night. One minute I’m freezing.  Five minutes later, just after I’ve drifted back off to sleep, snuggled comfortably under the blankets and cuddled up close to SuperMan, I’ll wake up drenched in sweat and absolutely, positively certain that I have a volcano in my bed.  I throw the covers back, run away from the heater that is known as my husband and cling to any cool spot of sheets that I can find.  And then, of course, I wake up (what seems like) five minutes later, freezing cold again. *sigh*

And it doesn’t get better in the morning. Middle age is right there waiting to smack me in the head every morning when I get ready for the day…

In the shower, I’ve found that it is more and more hazardous to undertake some personal grooming habits.  Now that I am not that good at seeing up close without glasses, things get a little tricky.  Glasses are not particularly helpful in the shower, so shaving becomes rather hazardous.  Do I go with the stubbly look under my arms or risk slicing my arteries as I try to shave the little hairs away?  And have I gotten them all or are there a few stragglers that will be waving along with me at my friends?

Once I’m out of the shower, makeup application becomes a challenge, too.  I think I am approaching that point when makeup becomes less of a camouflage and more of a beacon pointing out the wrinkles and lines.  I stretch my eyelids to apply my concealer, only to find that when I apply the shadow all the little groves become emphasized. *sigh*

Certain body parts don’t work like they used to, either.  My joints seem to have a mind of their own and have become weathermen – announcing the changes in barometric pressure with amazing accuracy.  My wrists let me know when I have spent too much time on my computer, which is too bad since that is my job!  I’m now good friends with all sorts of ace bandages and splints that I never knew I’d have.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I really, truly feel that this is the peak of my life. I’m happy, I’m healthy and I’m loving where I am. It’s just that these little things tend to sneak up on me and remind me that even though I feel young in my mind, my body isn’t as young as I wish it was.

Are you finding any surprises as time marches on?

Losing Innocence

Tall grass growing wild at Lyme Park. Category...Image via Wikipedia

We had lots of drama and trauma this morning. All before 7:30 in the morning.

Driving to school these days, Big Girl sits in the front seat. She is very proud of the fact that she is now big enough to legally sit there and likes to be “in charge” of the radio and environmental controls wherever we go.

This morning, however, I was wishing she was still in the back seat.

We were driving down a stretch of road that, for our rural area, is fairly busy in the mornings with commuters and  mommies headed to school carpool lines.  There was a car in front of us and we were cruising along when out of nowhere a raccoon dashed out of the tall grass on the side of the road and in front of the car in front of us.

I quickly told Big Girl “don’t look, don’t look,” but I think it was too late.

The poor raccoon was rolled under the car as the driver was traveling too fast to stop and to swerve to avoid the creature would’ve surely meant a wreck.

It was the first time she’s ever seen anything like that.  Understandably, she was very traumatized.  (hysterical is a more accurate description, actually)

My poor baby.

How do you explain to a child those split-second decisions you make where you choose the safety of yourself and, most likely, the children riding in the car with you, over saving a creature’s life? She is such an animal fanatic that all she could think about was the poor animal dying and that the person had not even swerved or slowed down.

As a driver (and a mom) I can only imagine what went through that driver’s mind in the milliseconds before they hit the raccoon.

I hate that she had to see that. I hate that a little bit her innocence was taken away today.

I know it’s part of life. I know that she is going to see things and experience things that I will want to shield her from – and that seeing a raccoon get hit by a car is probably one of the milder things. (although I hope and pray not)

Big Girl is also dealing with some new realities this year at school.  Fourth grade involves a lot more responsibilities (and less hand-holding) than last year – they actually change classes! And, she is dealing with the realization that some friends are not “forever friends” but more friends of a season – and that it’s ok that people move on to find other friends.

I hate knowing that I can’t wrap that protective bubble around my babies anymore.  I want to keep them safe in the cocoon of mommy’s protection and shield them from anything negative or harmful.  Unfortunately, life is not that way.  Kids grow up, expand their horizons and experience new things – not all of them good.

Watching her deal with these things is hard. I want to swoop in and fix everything – make it all better and sunshine and roses for her. But, I know I can’t. I know she has to work through some of this on her own.

And I know that my job now is to be there to support and guide her as she learns how to deal with these things – as a big girl, not a little one.

But I still wish I could pull her into my lap and keep her there, safe, forever.

 

Mama's Losin' It

Mr. Nobody has moved in

I knew it would happen.

I wasn’t sure when, but I knew it was just a matter of time.

Well, he’s here.

Mr. Nobody.

You know, the mischievous little elf who breaks things, makes messes, and wreaks havoc, only to dash away and hide when it’s time for a reckoning.

He stopped by our house for a visit yesterday, causing quite a stir. 

I’m not sure he knows he is not welcome.  I’m not sure he cares.  I think he had fun messing up bedrooms, tearing up bathrooms, and the like.

We’ve had the proverbial conversations:

“Who did this?”

I didn’t do it.”

“Okay, well, if you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it, then who did? It didn’t just happen all by itself.”

“I don’t know.”

“Ah, okay.”

I’m wondering how long his visit will last?

 

The fine art of cleaning a room (or not)

Let me start off by saying, I am not much of a housekeeper. Now, this is not to say I don’t like a clean house. I love having a clean house. As a matter of fact, I love it even more when someone else cleans my house for me!  However, lately that has not been the situation. Or rather, I have not chosen to spend my disposable income on having my house cleaned. It seems kind of a waste to me – after all, it’s just going to get dirty again, right?

But, that is exactly the logic I have been using for years and it hasn’t really helped me much. 

I begin this post in this way so that you will understand that my poor pre-teen daughter comes by her non-cleaning-genes honestly.  Very honestly.

So, let’s get to the story, shall we?messy garfield-thumb

Months and months ago (maybe a year, even) I got tired of cleaning my daughter’s room – well, let me rephrase that.  I got tired of repeatedly cleaning the disaster my daughter called her bedroom only to have it destroyed in 8.29 seconds after she arrived home from school.  I would spend hours (days, months, even!) in there wading through the dirty (or are they clean?) clothes on the floor, piles of notes and post-its tossed around the room, stuffed animals who had been lost under the bed (and were probably scarred for life, it’s scary down there) and tossed into the closet or corner of the room. I would have the room looking as if it was ready for a Martha Stewart magazine layout (well, sort of) and all fresh and clean smelling. Heck, I’d even dust!!

Then, she would come home.  And she was happy, thrilled, even, that I had cleaned her room.  She would disappear up there for hours on end, only to come down for dinner or a play date.  And things were nice.  For a while. A day, two, maybe.  Then, the chaos would take over again.

Clothes would be everywhere – why put them away if you are just going to wear them again, right?
Bed unmade – again, why bother?

Animals running amok (as most stuffed animals do when no one is looking – how else do they get where they seem to end up?)

Papers, craft projects, science experiments, everything (and I mean everything) scattered everywhere.

Finally, I decided I was done.  If she wanted to live that way, that was fine. I wasn’t going to clean it for her anymore. After all, how was she going to learn to appreciate the clean if it was always done for her?

So, I went on strike.

I told her I was not cleaning her room ever again and if she wanted it clean she would have to do it.

So, from that point on, I would walk by the room (cringing) and just “ignore” the mess.  I would tiptoe in to drop off clean clothes on her dresser (hoping not to step on anything that would break a toe) and run back out quickly.

Life was good. We worked it out. No fighting about cleaning, no ultimatums.  She appreciated that I was treating her like a big kid and letting her do her own thing.

Occasionally, she’d get all crazy and decide to clean a portion of her room.  So, one-fourth of her room would look nice and I would praise her (heartily) for the hard work I knew she had put into it, hoping that she would continue.

Alas.  She also suffers from the same gnat-sized attention span her mother has. (poor dear) She was off to other more exciting things.

And I was OK with that.  Let her sort out what was good for her – and learn what cleanliness meant in the process.

However…  (da da da dum)

Her daddy had other ideas.

He hated the mess.

He couldn’t stand it.

And so, I told him, “If it bothers you so much, YOU clean it.”  I reminded him that I was on strike and that I would not be cleaning her room.

Poor man.

He cleaned her room.

And I mean CLEANED her room. It was gorgeous. Made my cleaning job look amateurish (which it was, I assure you. He is by far the better cleaner in our marriage)

She was thrilled (of course)

and spent the next 3.25 days in her room.

And guess what?

It was trashed again.

Now, dear reader, what do you think he did?

(yes, you are right)

He cleaned it again.

Sigh.

So much for my lesson in teaching her to clean her room.

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I want to make these

Now that I have been bitten by the knitting bug, I have been snooping around on the web trying to find videos of stitches, patterns, etc. 

I also made a quick trip to the store today because the Big Girl has decided she must also do yarn/needle crafts if Momma is doing them. She picked out the biggest, chunkiest thread I’d seen. It is a deep teal, very pretty, but it looks so huge compared to the yarns I’m used to. We got her a size 13 needle (I think) to crochet with and the stitches are ginormous, but they are cute and very fitting of something a pre-teen would do. She has decided she is making bookmarks and maybe a “Friendship Bracelet” with her yarn.  I guess I am going to have to hook her up with Ms. Pam and get some real crochet lessons for her. 🙂

My little Polly Pocket blanket has morphed into the beginnings of a scarf, which Big Girl has already laid claim to. I am learning, though, and enjoying what I am doing. I have learned that this is very calming for me. When I am stressed, I’m grabbing the needles.  Which, after a day like I had today, was a LOT!  I am also noticing that I knit much better when I am not trying to referee the kids, answer ten-bajillion questions, and rock someone in the rocking chair. (Little Bit is sick with strep)  I have been finding mysterious extra stitches on my rows whenever I do that. Ah well, it is my first attempt, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

RodeoBut, as I was saying earlier, I have been rummaging around the web and I stumbled across some of the absolute cutest little knitted animals.

I mean, is he not just stinkin’ cute?

I am going to have to figure out how to make one. Big Girl and Little Bit have already put in their requests.  The only rub is that it calls for circular needles.  Hm…  I may be hitting up my friendly neighborhood knitting teacher for some advice on Thursday night.

I didn’t get any scrapbooking done today, in spite of my best intentions. After a trip to the pediatrician, the pharmacy, WalMart and Michael’s, I had to bring Little Bit home for some rest.  And that wasn’t as restful as planned because she absolutely, positively, did not want to take her medicine. Much hysteria and drama ensued and then she finally gave in.  After all of that I was mentally and physically (and emotionally) exhausted.  I just sat in my rocking chair and knitted and tried to relax for about an hour.

Thank goodness SuperMan came home shortly afterwards and took Big Girl to ballet so I didn’t have to get Little Bit back out in the craziness.  I love that man. He takes good care of us.

So, if you are hoping to see the latest weekly challenge, or any new templates, you may have to wait a couple more days. First I have to get the little princess healthy again. Then, I must figure out where I left my sanity.  THEN, I will try to do some scrapbooking!  Oh, and find out if I’m too much of a beginner to do this cute little hamsterveil.

Isn’t he just adorable?

I love this

Every once in a while I read something that just so totally speaks to my soul it begs to be shared. 

I just read this blog post over on Chatting at the Sky and it was one of those times.

She writes so eloquently exactly how I have been feeling about this phase of motherhood I am living right now.  How awesome and inspiring are her words.  They feel as if they come from my heart and yet they are from another's.  Motherhood is so universal. And yet so many times we feel we are all alone on this journey. 

Thanks, Emily, for reminding me that all mothers are experiencing (or have experienced) the exact same thing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your words and capturing something so poignant.

Oh, Grow Up! (just not so fast)

Today was a little bittersweet for me. 

My youngest daughter (5) had a Holiday program at school. They sang carols and did a few recitations for all of the parents, showed off their artwork and then we had a “reception” where we shared donuts and muffins.

I loved it.  She did such a good job and all of the kids were so adorable. (I love this age) The little boys with their energy just bursting from their little bodies, straining against the structure of standing in a row and reciting in time with the rest of the class… The little girls with their fancy dresses and pretty hairdos, smiling at their mommies and daddies and waving occasionally to be sure they are still paying attention to them.

It was heaven.

And yet, it was a little sad for me.

I couldn’t help but think that this was probably my last Christmas program I’d get to see (at least until the grandkids come along).  So, while I was reveling in every moment, there was a part of me that wanted to hit the “Pause” button.  Stop! Wait! This can’t be it!  Let’s go back a year or two.

Isn’t that funny? 

When our kids are little and dependent on us for EVERYTHING all we can think about is that we can’t wait for them to get bigger so that they can do things for themselves.  We push, we nudge, we cajole and we threaten.

And then, one day, you wake up from the everyday and realize that that time is here.  And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’m ready!

One girl entering her pre-teen years, thinking she knows it all already; the other learning she can be independent and it’s ok. Don’t get me wrong… I love it for them. I am proud of my girls.  I am so excited to see their growth and development, to cheer their accomplishments.

I’m just not ready to give up my babies yet.

I know what is coming. I have seen it with friends.  Next, I become the “mean mom” who doesn’t let her stay up all night, texting with friends on her cell phone.  Or the mom who won’t let her meet friends and hang out at the mall (all alone) (as if!)

I’m still enjoying being the mom they WANT to be with. The mom they think is cool (and that they think actually KNOWS stuff)  I’m not ready to give that up.

I want babies to snuggle in my lap, rock to sleep, and kiss their boo-boos.

So, it’s bittersweet. 

While I’m so proud of them and can’t wait to see what they will become, I’m going to miss these little girls of mine.  I love them an awful lot.