Middle-Age Growing Pains

by Anne Bennett on August 20, 2009

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Every once in awhile life gives you a chance to reinvent yourself, whether you want to or not. Next week my husband Champ and our 23-year-old son Corbett will depart on a two-week long car trip across the country. Being the laid-back guys that they are, they’re going to wing it, stopping at places they’ve never been and making up their itinerary as they go. Their ultimate destination is Northern California, where Corbett will attend graduate school for the next five years. Champ will then fly home and we’ll begin our lives as childless old people.

At least that’s what it feels like. Both Elizabeth, our daughter, and Corbett have been launched successfully into adulthood. I don’t have to complain about messy bedrooms anymore, or ignored curfews or how I can’t wait until they’re out of the house, because now they will be out of the house for good.  We will have completed our job as parents, more or less.

Another stage of life, the one that’s coming dangerously close to the big finale, will begin. And what a harrowing thought that is, having to re-define yourself at the age of 58. I know it’s not impossible: Julia Child didn’t become a famous cookbook author until she was 50 years old, and her TV career began after that!  But few of us has a major commercial success under our belts, and it thus becomes necessary to ask: what do I want to do? How do I want to define myself from now on? You must ask yourself these hard questions, because if you don’t, your life is likely to take on the day-to-day drudgery that Thoreau referred to when he wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.” (Is that why American Idol is so popular? We love watching people ‘sing their song’? It’s a hokey metaphor, but it somehow works when you think about it.)

When the boys leave next week, I’ll get my act together and do some real soul-searching about what it means to be Anne the poodle-loving, needlepointing, Weight Watcher leader. In the meantime, I’m having a pity party for myself, mourning the loss of our children (who are now adults) and damning the speed with which they grew up and left me in their dust.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda August 21, 2009 at 11:09 am

I have a feeling, Anne, that Phase 2 won’t be worse than Phase 1, just different. It’s the transition that’s painful…. For the rest of us, it will be fun to continue to hear of Elizabeth’s and Corbett’s successes. It must be so terrific for you to realize that your children have so many options and opportunities for their enjoyment and success. Congratulations…good kids don’t (usually) happen by accident.

Ann August 26, 2009 at 4:54 am

Though at first it seems painful when our kids grow up and leave us, it’s actually the beginning of a beautiful and relaxing phase of life. The mental freedom that comes with this phase of life is very uplifting and comforting and opens doors to do the things that we have always wanted to do, but never had time or energy to focus on. You should pride yourself in a job well done in raising two healthy & happy kids/young adults! I am looking forward to your new blogs on Hungry Poodle as I am sure many others do as well! I just made the corn salad this morning! Congratulations on the success of your children, and on your success as an amazing Wt. Watchers leader!

Kathleen M. September 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Oh, the fun you have ahead of you with adult children. Life just gets better and better as you watch those darling offspring live their lives. They become wonderful friends to you and your husband, and hopefully, will expand your family with new and delightful souls in the form of spouses and grandchildren. (And the best part is, your home is a welcome retreat that you will need and want as the joy multiplies.)

Thanks for your wonderful and light-hearted support of the very serious business of healthy eating. I do appreciate all you do for all of us.

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