Thoughts from this Side of 50
I can recall a particular evening when the fact that I've reached middle age (or perhaps passed it by) really hit home. Walking through a restaurant on my way to our table, I couldn't help but notice how young and beautiful all of the women were and how much fun they appeared to be having. Suddenly, I felt old and out of place.
Back at home that evening, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and mourned the loss of my youth. My heart ached to go back in time. There was a time, before my body betrayed me, when I was one of those young girls sitting in a restaurant bar, laughing too loud, having a great time and gaining the attention of men who looked like movie stars. My hair was not grey, my breasts were perky and my skin was flawless. Standing there, I promised myself that I'd join a gym. Then, I sat on the couch, watching Sex and the City reruns while devouring a pint of Ben & Jerry's.
In the days that followed however, I started to really look at other women. Not for their outward beauty, but for their experiences and stage of life. I found myself appreciating each of them for their uniqueness and for their hearts. Watching my daughter be a mom to her own daughter filled my heart with love and gratitude. I'm so grateful for the experience of raising children, and I am so grateful that they are grown. I served my time changing diapers, planning play dates and serving on the PTA. Now it's someone else's turn.
That Sunday at church, I noticed the white haired woman, perhaps twenty years my senior, sitting in front of me. Her hands were as wrinkled as her face, but she was beautiful and elegant. Her husband held her hand with a kind of love that only comes when you've spent fifty years together. Fifty years of living, loving, fighting, making up and staying together through thick and thin, displays itself with a look of peace and the depth of a woman who has truly lived her life.
I'm learning to appreciate the phase of life I'm in right now. I own a home and a savings account. I may have fewer shoes in my closet, but they are of better quality. I also have fewer friends, but they too are of better quality. I'm not worried about what I'm going to do on Friday night, and I'm not sitting in a bar, looking for love. I have found my love. He too has grey hair and wrinkles, but when I watch him doing simple things like fixing the garbage disposal or bouncing our grandbaby on his knee, to me, there is no sexier man on Earth. My heart is at peace knowing that I have a partner who has seen me through the good times and the bad.
I was twenty-five once. The women who are twenty-five now, will one day be fifty-five. Their youth and zest for life will turn into wisdom, experience, and hopefully a peace filled heart. As middle aged women, we've earned each grey hair. We've raised children, we've loved and lost, we've built homes and businesses, we've battled cancer, we've traveled near and far, we've buried friends and parents. We are survivors. We are fearless. We still have so much to give and contribute, only now we can do it more openly and more honestly. Our bodies may not be what they once were, but we traded them for spirit, courage and grace.