I Am Recovering from a Birthday

Well, not recovering exactly, but still a bit shaken. This isn't one of my typical posts.

I had one of those birthdays a few months ago. A big decade birthday. Not 40, not even the decade after that. It's the one after that.  The one that starts with a six.

Honestly, a birthday has never really thrown me the way that one did. The (false) image I have of someone in this decade is not how I picture myself. (Whenever I think like that, though, it helps me to think about my sister, who at 66 is more like a 40 year old in looks, energy, and lifestyle.  She does not fit my image of someone in this decade.)

Over 50 blogger
In my college dorm, drawing

Anyway, those big birthdays always have a tendency to make me look back, with some valuable insights.

I was a young "career woman" in the early 80s, and as I was from one of the first generations of women with more options for careers, I had some pretty strong feelings about things.

Housework?  Disdainful. (Stay with me here.)  Give us "quality daycare, and let us get out there and be "career women." (I had no kids yet and actually had no idea what "quality daycare" meant, and I had no idea what the term "career women" actually meant either. I had vague images of women in business suits with briefcases.)  Women were breaking new ground.

I had always gravitated to artistic, creative types of activities, but I also saw myself in one of the "helping" professions--a social worker, maybe.  I loved kids, and I could also see myself working in education. Those aren't really briefcase professions, but the options were wide open.

Eventually, after much indecision,  I completed my Bachelors degree in Psychology, with the intention of one day getting my  PhD and becoming a school psychologist (or an Occupational Therapist...)

I was almost dysfunctionally eclectic. "Make up your mind, already!" I want to scream at that young woman.

Fresh out of college, I decided to "work for a while" before getting my Master's.  I had the mandatory 80's business suit with padded shoulders, and yes, the briefcase. I had worked in a hospital while in college and loved it, so I gravitated to the medical environment. Managed healthcare was in its infancy, and I took a position as a Provider Rep. with an HMO/PPO.  I enjoyed presenting our plan to doctors and hospital personnel.

Fast forward.  I married and became a young stay-at-home mom. Getting those advanced degrees was still on my mind, to be completed some time in the future.

Guess what?  That "disdainful" housework became much more valuable when I saw how difficult it was to keep up with, with two small children. Having an organized, inviting home became much more important to me, when I saw how important it could be to a family.

It was a steep learning curve for me. I hadn't paid much attention to home management growing up. My mom had always made it seem so effortless. Whoa, it's not effortless.

As a stay at home mom, my naturally thin skin took a beating sometimes, as working moms would send some thinly veiled barbs my way. Comments about stay at home moms getting too involved in their kids' lives, because stay at home moms had "too much time on their hands," etc.  Wowza, those hurt.  Especially because, as my kids grew into puberty, they became chronically ill, and we were homeschooling.  My life felt completely out of my control, and I certainly didn't have a lot of time on my hands.

While a stay at home mom, I expanded on the education classes I had in college and completed my teacher training. I'm a reading tutor, and I absolutely love my job. So, I have kind of come full circle.

Things are different now than they were when I was that young college student. It's nice to see that women's career opportunities are vastly different than they were when I was a little girl.  It's nice that there are so many more options available for moms who want to work both in and out of their homes, and that those stiff business suits aren't necessary anymore in order for a woman to be considered "serious about her career." I'm glad that nesting and keeping an inviting home are seen positively again.

But, I'm sad that there are still "mommy wars" and that some  moms who work outside the home and some "stay-at-home moms" still seem to have trouble understanding each other.

I'm glad that I have a fulfilling, (although never easy, because whose life is truly easy?), life as a reading tutor, sometimes photographer, and ever wife and mom. (We will always be moms, no matter how old our "children" are.)

Maybe you're having one of "those" birthdays, and you are taking some looks back.  Or maybe your life has taken some incredibly difficult turns, and you're wondering what your future will be.

My ramble today is cathartic, yes. It's my way of looking back and realizing that my life events, even the ones I hadn't planned for, even the ones that were horribly difficult, all culminated in my life today. So, maybe it can be reassuring to some of you.

It boils down to some simple things:

  • Your first passions and career aspirations shouldn't be ignored. (I came full circle to become a reading tutor, fulfilling my first inclination to work with kids.)

  • If you are considering a master's degree or other advanced degree, start working on it now if you can.  The "future" comes very fast. BUT,  don't waste time regretting it if you didn't reach an early educational goal. Life is flexible!

  • The most terrible things that happen to you in life often provide the most growth. (This is one of those ideas that we think we know and that we think sound trite, but we need to examine more thoroughly!)

  • Perseverance is often more important than IQ, opportunity, or many of those other things we think are so, so important!

  • Each new decade is a barometer of how far we've come in our thinking, our perspective, our lessons learned, and our appreciation of this life. 

 Can you relate to some of my ramble?

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  1. The Mommy Wars may always rage one. Sad. I'm both, as you know, and sometimes it's much much much harder to be not working and home with the kids. No such thing as too much time on our hands!
    Also, Happy Birthday. The way you think about your sister, I honestly looked at your photo many times and thought you were in your 40's too!

    1. Thanks Tamara! My birthday was a few months ago, and I"m still trying to come to terms with it! It's kind of surreal. (I've had this post written for a while...) Nice words like yours make it more tolerable though! I really did think by now the mommy wars would be better, but I think you're right--they may always rage on.

  2. Lots to think about - and yes, time goes too fast. By the way...there is no way you are 60! You look SO young in your photo! I hope you had a great birthday!

    1. Thank you Shelley!! I admit, that picture is about 4 years old, but I have it associated with all of my social media, so I'm hesitant to change it in case people wouldn't recognize me! Thanks so much for commenting today!

  3. Wow - you definitely don't even look like you are in your 50s, never mind 60s! And I know exactly what you mean about not seeing yourself as what your thought 60 year olds are. I feel the same way (I am 61 now and just can't get my head round that one!) Hope you had a good celebration. Sorry I am late, I didn't realise this was in my website email folder until I decided to pay some attention.

    1. Thank you so much!! I appreciate the kind words!

  4. Happy birthday and so... All of good wishes will come true!


I appreciate every comment. Thank you!

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