It is with delight that I watch my kids move into the best times of their lives, and with consternation that I watch the winding down of mine.
My oldest daughter, who is within spitting distance of 30, had a birthday party for her two-year old this weekend. My husband and I happily attended. She’s lived an un-navigable distance from me for the last decade, so it is with distinct pleasure that I can actually go to things like this since she has recently moved closer to us.
The minute I stepped across her threshold it felt as familiar and comforting as a well-worn pair of slippers.
Arrangement of furniture, check. Framed art scattered liberally on every surface and wall, check. A number of well-used, Dali-esque, scented candles throughout, check. Pictures of smiling family members everywhere, check. Eight-year-old daughter playing with gerbil family, che…oh wait, no, I wasn’t a gerbil person. Scratch that. I had cats. Two-year-old in adorable dress with matching floral headband wandering around happily, check.
Her house, less the gerbils plus a couple of extra kids could have been mine two decades ago.
The realization was jarring. I felt I was in a time warp, watching a younger, hipper, fresher version of myself. With no small degree of angst, I watched as her good friend arrived for the party, five-year old in tow, baby bump under her sweater. The two young women sat on the couch, their conversation shrieking “baby, child-rearing, pre-schools!” It felt strange to cock my head, listening, an outsider to the conversation instead of an active participant. Clueless about the latest toys and technology that accompany child-rearing these days, I kept my mouth shut. I did not want to say something that would make me seem (shudder) out-of-date. Obsolete.
Sometimes I feel like the “sell by” date on my life has passed. Perhaps these feelings are common to most women finding themselves post-menopause and pre-grave. In politically correct terms, I believe this phase is typified as “re-invention.”
Whatever it is, I don’t know what to do with it.
However, in the writing of this article, a possible solution has occurred to me. It involves the lovely group of women I belong to that engages in emotional gut-spilling on a weekly basis. This is very therapeutic actually, and we talk quite a bit about a mental roadblock called “denial.”
Denial typically blindly negates whatever is going on. In order to alleviate the negative effects of denial, one must become aware of actions that precipitate an ongoing cycle within which one may be trapped. Optimistically, at that point one’s eyes will be opened, and one will walk into a brighter, clearer, more unhindered life.
After a bit of introspection, I’ve come to the conclusion that in certain instances denial can be downright liberating. When one is in the winding down, or “re-invention” phase, for example.
In my case, I plan to pull it out regularly over the next ten or twenty years, and apply as needed. Especially if someone refers to me as a “senior” or declares I should “re-invent.”