The MAD Goddess writes out loud with candor and humor about the changing landscape of life for women with retired husbands,
adult children, and grandchildren. It's not always a pretty story,
but it's usually pretty funny.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Last week I went in for my 50,000 mile check-up. When the doc asked how I was doing, for the first time in my life I answered, “Not so good.”

Welcome to middle age and beyond. Everything from here on out is down hill and I feel like Sisyphus trying to keep that infernal boulder from rolling into the valley. Yea, though I walk through the valley, I may fear not . . . but I’m lugging around twenty extra pounds, my back aches, my feet are sore and I’m just so damned tired all the time.

After eliminating any serious causes for my complaints, the doc asked me if I was experiencing a lot of stress. When I answered in the affirmative he said I had to learn to identify the source of the stress and eliminate it.

I told him that was a good idea but I’d probably end up in jail.

I thought being an adult, being married and raising kids was tough, but this empty nest thing is no piece of cake. I still worry just as much about my kids, but I have even less say in their life choices.

I may be dealing a lot less with the children since they've flown the coop, but thanks to retirement I have twice-as-much husband in this phase of life. I was the CEO of home and hearth for more than 30 years. Now all of a sudden it feels like I’ve been demoted to facility manager.

I used to be able to dismantle, paint and redecorate a room between the time my husband left for work and returned for supper. Now it takes me longer than that just to explain what I want to do . . . or rather why I want to do it. Being that I’m over twenty-one, I can’t quite come to terms with this permission asking thing.

He wants to know why he doesn’t have a say in how we decorate. I point to the NASCAR die casts that are now a feature of our living room.

He wants us to do everything together – Wednesday softball, Friday night races, and Sunday football game on the widescreen at the local bar.

A few weekends ago, I mentioned that a local band, including a few guys who used to play music with my brother, was playing nearby.

“So what?” he said.

I didn’t bother to explain the “what” was that I wanted to go listen to them. Any fun I might have had was spoiled by his obvious condemnation. Funny thing is I can act similarly disinterested in any number of sporting events yet he seems oblivious to the fact that “we” are not having as good a time as he is.

Cleaning the house and cooking meals apparently doesn’t come under the umbrella of doing everything together either, though cleaning the garage does.

I hate to complain. It’s not like I don’t want him here. After ten-years apart while he drove an 18-wheeler across the country, I really do want to spend time with him. Given the heart attack that should have left him dead in his truck somewhere in Indiana, I could be lamenting a very lonely life right now.

I thought mid-life was all about being stuck in the middle – somewhere between young and old, between raising children and aging parents, working hard and reaping rewards.

So why is it so gosh-darn hard to find the middle ground between too much alone and too much together?

. . . . . . mid
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