In case you missed it, the tagline for this blog is "Celebrating Midlife. Usually." After reading a discussion about the lack of blogs for women my age—not young anymore, but not yet retirement age—I thought, I could do that. I'm middle aged, but I still have a kid at home, and we won't be retirement age for at least a dozen years.
But so far I haven't come up with much to say on that topic. Mainly because at the moment I'm not all that happy about being 53.
For one thing, being solidly into your fifties drives home that there are certain things you're never going to do. For me, that's having a career. We made the decision to move here a long time ago when it sounded like a fun place to live for a few years while PellMel was young. We knew there weren't many job opportunities in my field—I was a database analyst before we moved—but the timing seemed good for me to spend some time at home, and then we'd figure something out.
Twenty-two years later, we've talked about moving several times, but we've never really seriously considered doing it. I was in on every single one of those discussions, and for the most part, I was always in agreement with the decision to stay. But now that it's really too late to do much about it, I find myself wailing inwardly, but I never had a career!
That wasn't what I planned. I loved my work, and I loved getting paid. I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom. I guess technically speaking, I haven't been. I would start to go crazy with boredom, so I'd find a part-time job that would keep me busy for awhile. After a year or two or four, the job itself would become boring, and I'd go back to staying home. Then a year or two later, I'd do it again.
Up until four or five years ago, I still thought I was going to be able to go back to work. My tech skills were way out of date, but I figured at some point I would brush up and get a job and finally have a career. Until the professor of a programming classes I took a few years ago told me after class one day, "You're probably not going to be hired. You're competing with 22-year-olds who are willing to stay up all night eating M&Ms and drinking Red Bull."
I was grateful for his honesty, but ouch. That was when I went back and got my Master's in English. Teaching continuing ed classes is a lot of fun, but it's more of a hobby than a job. It barely pays for the books I buy to prep for the class.
I don't regret living here. I really don't. Given the same set of circumstances (great job for Dean, great place to raise kids, good friends and good community, etc), I'd make the same decisions all over again. I just wish I could have two lives, so I could spend one doing what we did, and the other one working.
I'm a bit embarrassed to post this, because could I be any more of a whiner? I am privileged, fortunate, lucky, blessed. I have great kids and a great spouse, we have fun adventures here in outdoor paradise, we're involved in a church I dearly love, we've been able to take some amazing trips. I've blogged and gone back to school and taught classes and led small groups. How crazy is it that there is still a part of me that is thinking, is this it? is this all I get to do?
I know it's stupid. But so far I haven't been able to let it go. It's like I'm grieving for the life I thought I'd have. I'm hoping that typing it out will help with that, and maybe you all will have some advice. Fortunately there are a lot of retirees around here, so I have plenty of examples of people who are active and interesting and vital well into their eighties. We have lots of time for more life. And maybe now that I've gotten this gripe out of my system, we can move on to celebrating.
Pass the margaritas.