Tag Archives: aging

Anatomy of a Mid-Life Crisis

Sound the trumpets!  Cue the ticker-tape parade!  It’s the 100th post here at the Uncommonhousewife Blog!  It took a little over a year to get here, which I’m feeling pretty good about.  Readership, on the other hand, could use some work.  I’m thinking I should have a celebratory giveaway or something to boost my numbers.  Hmmm.  I wonder if I have any crap valuable trinket to offer.  Guess not.

Instead, those diehard readers still with me get to follow along as I muse about who, where, or what I want to be when I grow up.  Just recently, I passed into what must now be called my early 40s.  I’m not traumatized by it.  I am, however, prompted to evaluate what I’ve spent all those years doing.  As a full-time mother, I know I have done highly valuable work without earning a dime for it.  As a military spouse, I know I have provided the supporting pillar that has allowed our family to remain stable and happy as we were tossed around during deployments, moves, and other high-stress events that come with the military lifestyle.  Now, I’m seeing the not-so-distant end of each of those roles and wondering what’s next.

  • Going “back to work” isn’t very easy when you haven’t worked for pay in 17 years.  I’ve been following various bloggers who specialize in re-entry into the workforce for moms.  The problem is, most assume that the mom has a career path waiting for her to return to.  My story reads a bit differently.  I graduated college in the middle of a recession.  I took the best job offer I got, which was not in a career field I particularly liked.  A year later I got married and proceeded to hopscotch around the country every 6 months to 2 years for the next 19.  At first, I worked where I could.  Back in those days, employers were not so friendly to military wives, who were sure to leave right after they got perfectly trained at the job.  So it was temp work for me.  Then came children.
  • Is going back to school worth it?  I always said I would go back and get a master’s degree.  I was never too clear on which field I would pursue the degree, but I was definitely gonna get one.  After all, I was good at school.  My professors all made sure to tell me what a waste it was that I had no immediate plans to go to graduate school.  But 20 years later, I’m thinking that going back to school only makes sense if I have a specific goal in mind which requires that advanced degree.  Otherwise, it costs too darned much.
  • Where do I find roots and contacts when I’ve come and gone so many times?  This is the part where I wish I had diligently kept in touch with everyone I’ve ever known from college, wives’ organizations, school groups, churches, neighbors…Yeah, right.  I guess this is exactly what Facebook is for.  Now I can nudge those people who gave up trying to keep our address current on their Christmas card list.
  • Is all of this premature?  After all, I still have 2 kids to get into college and on their way.  And being their guidance counselor is basically a full-time job.  Darling husband could end up staying in the Navy for a few more years if the economy continues to self-destruct.  Or he could retire and bounce from one job to the next and one state to the next for a few years.  That would leave me pretty much where I am now: tumbleweeding around hoping to land on the right opportunity.

I know there have to be other women in similar situations out there.  So come on and chime in with suggestions.  Life coach?  Community college?  LinkedIn?  Politics?


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Still Here. Not Raptured.

It was the end of the world on Saturday, and I missed it.  It seems I was too busy hauling SuzyQ back and forth to chorus rehearsals, and the Rapture passed me by.  Now I have to wait for the next Armageddon.  I think it’s predicted for mid-December of 2012.  I had better get that on the calendar now.

Yep, it was a Tea Cup Ride kind of weekend here, but thankfully, it was the last of that variety for a while.  Chorus season is finished, and baseball ends today.  Maybe now I can finally spend some serious time fooling around with my anniversary present: a DSLR camera.  The thing is massive and kind of scary.  It came with 3 DVDs and a big manual with tiny print.  But I love that there was a 6-step “Get Started” instruction about how to attach the lens, turn the camera on, set the dial to Auto-everything, and away you go. 

The other half of the weekend: staking the tomatoes.

Of course, my intention is to shoot pictures in Auto-nothing.  I have lots to learn.

I have never considered myself artistic.  Musical, maybe; crafty, perhaps, but not artistic.  It’s strange to see this reinvention of myself going on.  Previously, I just liked to take nice pictures to capture a moment.  Now, I want to take better-than-nice pictures that capture emotion.  I would rather shoot everyday smiles or frowns, random sights, typical scenes.  Lately, these are the things I want to get a record of.  Maybe it’s because daily life in our family will undergo huge changes as the kids begin to leave the nest in a year or so.

Anyway, all of a sudden, I’m taking my camera everywhere.  Plus, I’m really into the idea of redecorating the house.  We have no budget for any major remodeling, but we can certainly freshen up paint and window treatments.  I keep a file (actually, more of a pile) of paint chips, fabric swatches, and pages ripped from magazines. I have given very serious thought to hauling about two-thirds of our possessions out to the curb for the Disabled Veterans to take away. 

I guess this is sort of a life makeover.  A lot of the things that were characteristically “me” before just aren’t anymore.  These days, I’m much more Pottery Barn or Coastal Living than Victorian Home.   I’m more into gardening than Girl’s Night Out.  I have abandoned Target and even Kohls for clothes and turned to Talbots and Coldwater Creek and Stein Mart.  And while I still love history, you couldn’t pay me to go back to school for a Master’s degree in history. 

Apparently, midlife crisis for me is about redefining who I am.  I have been Mom and Navy wife for so long, but now that those roles are diminishing, I get to choose the next role.  And it feels like I should say, “And now for something completely different.”  (classic “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”)  Maybe funny and artsy instead of quiet and bookish.  Playing with gadets and working in the dirt of my garden, too.  Definitely still Uncommon, though.

I have a lot to accomplish before the next End of the World.  Pictures to take, walls to paint, things to see, things to do…

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Being “Of a Certain Age”

Maybe it’s the dismal time of year.  Or maybe it’s the onset of the mad cow disease.  I suspect, though, that it was just a symptom of being “of a certain age” that caused me to make a check out to the music teacher using just her first name.  One wonders what the bank staffers thought when they saw “Pay to the Order of…Barbara.”  Now, the music teacher is older than I am, so hopefully she got a sympathetic chuckle out of it.

I realize I’m not old in the grand scheme of things.  Just ask Oprah.  She’ll tell you that 40 is the new 20 or something.  Of course, she’s not the parent of teenagers who find it hilarious when darling husband or I slip and say we’ll “tape it” when we can’t watch a TV show.  Lately, though, I’ve had plenty of reminders that age is not actually relative:

  • All of the hair product and industrial strength flat irons in the world are not going to make my grey hairs behave.
  • Target, Old Navy, and Gap are not good places to shop for clothes.
  • There had better be a really good reason to keep me from getting into my pajamas by 9:00 pm.  Like a mandatory evacuation or an awesome date night.  Hauling kids to and from their social commitments doesn’t count and makes me cranky.
  • A perfectly lovely wool dress thrown over the top of jeans is an outfit??
  • Time management means something completely different to a teenager.  “We need to be out the door in 5 minutes,” and “Use this weekend to get caught up in your History assignments,” must come out of my 40-something mouth sounding like a foreign language.  I always wanted to be multi-lingual.

I think the first thing to go, though, is the ability to multi-task effectively.  Looking back, I can remember feeding a baby while paying the bills while talking on the phone.  Apparently now, as my check-writing demonstrates, I can do one thing at a time well.  Throw in a sudden distraction like the phone ringing or someone asking if I’ve seen their shoes, gloves, library book, etc., and I end up paying any old Barbara.

So here I am, transferring SuzyQ’s revised rehearsal schedule to calendar # 3 because apparently I need reminders on every level of the house and a mobile one as well.  Then I’ll dig out the old check register to remind me again about the regular monthly karate tuition because I can’t remember from one month to the next how much it is.  And did I forget to move that load of towels from the washer into the dryer?  Oh well.  It must be the mad cow.

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Who Says 40 is the New 30? The Grinch Maybe.

It was Oprah, wasn’t it?  Regardless, that’s a bunch of malarkey.  I did not just turn 40, (That happened a year and a half ago.) but it appears there is nothing like a major holiday to bring home the fact that I’m getting to be “of a certain age.” 

  • The Toys R Us ad goes immediately into the discard pile of Black Friday ads.  My kids long ago outgrew that store, thank goodness.  In fact, I’ll adopt Special Forces like maneuvers to avoid the toy department of any store from now until February.  I can’t take the clogged aisles filled with children sampling every noisy toy and their exasperated parents.
  • I curse the inventor of motion picture surround sound.  While watching the latest “Harry Potter” movie, I had to cover my ears during almost every action sequence because it was SO DARN LOUD.  And the sound was swirling around my head from every direction.
  • I’m wondering if I should take Zantac before or Tums after the Thanksgiving feast.  I don’t gorge myself.  But it seems like even minor departures from normal eating patterns produce indigestion these days.
  • I really think I need to have a pair of reading glasses just for the kitchen.  Why do the cooking instruction on the Butterball look like the fine print on a car lease?  Actually, I might have to put reading glasses on my Christmas list.
  • I seriously consider breaking my hard and fast fashion rule of not wearing sneakers unless I’m doing something athletic.  If we plan to hit 5 stores in 3 hours on Black Friday, I need something  a lot more supportive, traction-capable, and comfortable than my cute little boots.
  • What in the world do I have in my purse that makes it so darn heavy??  I see all these teens and 20-somethings just carrying a wallet when they go shopping.  Can I get by without my Tylenol, the tablet that I use to keep track of book titles or sizes so I don’t forget them later, hand lotion, reading glasses…?

I’m certain that as Thanksgiving blends oh-so-seamlessly into Christmas, I’ll discover lots of other hints that I’m no spring chicken anymore.  Some things are not so bad, by the way, like staying out of Toys R Us.  That place is awful at any time of year.  I would, however, like to hang on to my cute shoes as long as possible.

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