Is this it? Time for my midlife rant.
I’m almost 49 years old and I’m wondering what happened?
When I’m not running around after my children, picking up towels and socks, checking homework, arranging toys, cooking, grocery shopping, planning weekend activities, arguing with my husband because he doesn’t appreciate all that I do, I am drinking Mommy juice (read ‘red wine’) and reading Mommy porn. No, no not 50 Shades of Grey, although I did read it and preferred The Beautiful Bastard series, I’m talking Mommy porn, anything about romance with super, steamy sex with vampires, shifters, Navy Seals, cowboys, cyborgs. That makes you wonder when was the last time you kissed – I mean really kissed your husband.
Yes I chose to step back from the professional world in order to give my children the best – me (or so I thought.) But as I do not always feel at the top of my game, are my children getting the best? And on those remote occasions when I take a look at the job market, it seems like companies want 25 year olds who speak 3 languages coupled with 3 degrees. Who wants to hire a 49 year old who has spent the past 10 years at home doing part-time work here and there, but mostly raising her children?
Just re-reading that makes me cringe and think: The Big 5-0 is going to hurt in unimaginable ways and it’s going to reinforce that my professional life and image is done and dusted.
Please tell me 1) that I am not the only one going through this and 2) when I come out on the other side of 50, I will glow and sing like Elsa in that damn Disney movie: “Let it go, let it go. I’m 50 and about to kick ass.” Nope, those weren’t the actual words, but I’m allowing myself a little poetic license.
So what happened? I went to uni, kicked butt if I do say so myself and walked out with a nice money making little job. I carried on for several years, a professional success, with recognition, accolades, pocket change. (I could take a trip anywhere I wanted and I didn’t have to ask my husband for a little help).
Then I met my partner. A funny, generous, wonderful man that I knew I would laugh with in my twilight years. I knew he would be a good father. I knew he would be a good husband.
And, get this dear readers. Wait for it: he is!!! So no, I’m not going to bitch about how he’s a jerk and I got it all wrong. I actually got it all right. He’s a GREAT guy. My kids are GREAT. We live in a fab city and take pretty cool vacations too.
MY problem (besides wavering periods of ingratitude) is that I wonder what happened to ME? I used to be GREAT too! I used to have a career, I used to make my own money. I thought I was going to be SOMEBODY and DO SOMETHING. I did not sign-up to be an over-time house-wife and mother, who squeezes in online entrepreneurship in an effort to find a satisfying career and mental stimulation.
This isn’t quite what I expected. Was I wrong to think that I could have it all and stay sane? Without the Mommy juice and Mommy porn? Was I so wrong to think that I could continue to professionally work magic, all the while working that same magic at home?
In the 70s there was a series of great commercials in the States, for a perfume called Enjoli. The liberated, gorgeous, working mother sings: “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never let you forget you’re a man.” Please take a peek at this one and this one and wonder if little girls were brainwashed by this theme. I know that I definitely bought into the notion that I really could have it all. I could raise my children to be responsible little citizens, I could do homework with them, encourage them to learn foreign languages, play a musical instrument, excel at a sport, be kind, respectful and courteous, while working a challenging, high-paying job AND being a gorgeous sexpot for my equally hard-working husband.
So again, I ask, what happened?
Anne-Marie Slaughter understood that it was impossible with her 2012 Atlantic article ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” and Sheryl Sandburg was easily able to ‘Lean In’ because she had an army of home-help and a partner who believed in shared parenting theory.
Shared parenting? What the hell is that? A fairytale marriage where the partners agree to share responsibility for earning money, meeting needs of children, chores and recreation time in nearly equal fashion across these four areas. No, I am not sipping the Mommy juice. There are apparently parents who are able to rock this. Um, not me. Obviously!
So, we are back to my same moaning groaning question: who am I now? How did this happen? And better yet: how the hell do I fix this?
For those of you in your late 40’s, let me know how YOU are doing. For those of you over 50, please share your tips and resources for celebrating womanhood.
Any useful advice (that does not include copious amounts of wine and Magic Mike videos) would be greatly appreciated:
Do I just sit down and accept that my ‘glory’ days are in the past and that my children will be my glory?
Or do I believe that my real ‘glory’ days are to come as evidenced by a very full 49 years with successes in every domain: familial, personal and professional?
Or do I throw out notions of ‘professional’ success and redefine success to my own terms?
Or do I enjoy my Mommy juice and Mommy porn with no guilt, because I deserve it?
While I wait for you to help a fellow mum out, I’ll just read a few chapters while sipping slowly.