There has been a good bit of life keeping me distracted here lately – nothing terribly worthy of putting out on the internet for everyone to read. My friend Meredith says that this stage of life – the most decidedly middle age of 49, married, with two careers, a mortgage for an old house and a teenager on the cusp of flying the nest – is bound by duty. My days are packed full of things that need to be done and there never are enough hours in the day or days of the week. It’s not at all glamorous or sexy and there’s nothing that I can realistically ‘KonMari‘ out of my life, although I did have a well meaning, younger, childless friend try to explain to me that perhaps in the duty boundness of my life, I could find joy in helping others find their joy. You know, in my schlepping my dear girl everywhere to find her joy, that should bring me joy. I like it in theory, but it clearly was spoken by someone who has not had to reckon face first in the fact that teen girls are quite possibly the hardest humans to attempt to be, no matter the decade and even if you have been one, you have forgotten the absolute worst parts of being one AND it’s even harder being the supposed adult who is tasked with helping them get into adulthood. Also? Nothing lets you know how old and uncool you are like having a teenage daughter. Although hearing one of your favorite college-era R.E.M. songs on the self described ‘oldies’ radio station comes pretty darn close.
Yeah, you find the joy in that. Or am I just being cranky? I mean, I could just be cranky.
I will admit that I’ve had some back issues in recent months. Issues, that after months of being a medical mystery because the pain persisted up and down my right side, but never in the same spot for too terribly long, has finally been determined the result of a small strained muscle in my rear end. It has interfered in my ability to sit for any length of time, caused me to lose sleep at night, led to me taking all sorts of medications that have both upset my stomach AND affected my drinking in that I had to choose between my liver’s continued health or a handful of pills that temporarily cut the inflammation and pain associated with the literal pain in my ass. I’ve decided to keep my liver, for now. But the overall ordeal of some part on the right side of my body being in pain at a level 6 or higher for months on end may have left me somewhat cranky. Go figure.
For a while there, I thought my creative mojo had taken off to parts unknown, but I realized, I was still making things – I just wasn’t always photographing the finished product because of everything else going on in my life. Rather, I had (have) a case of writer’s block, that was probably not at all helped by the fact that I was getting paid by multiple outlets to write. Can I just say how unbelievably grateful I am for editors that let you turn in articles over a month late? I finally cut back (konmaried?) on my writing commitments, which may have helped restoring a small sense of sanity to my life.
The reality is, I’m at this stage in life where, as the chorus of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” reminds us, “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it”. Life is busy and duty bound and everything on your task list does not always bring joy. But it does have moments of cozy and the comforting knowledge that you have your tribe who are game for brunches combining morning bourbon and breakfast casseroles your doctor strongly recommends you avoid for the sake of your cholesterol levels and impromptu wine evenings that you later hear your offspring describe as “with that many moms getting together at dinner time, you’d think there would be real food” as well as a little bit of shade about how no matter what time that particular group of moms starts drinking, we never finish until we’ve drank everything in sight and the cows are coming home. (We all have teen daughters. Need I say more?)
Adulting is overrated for sure – and has been relentless for some time with no end in sight. I don’t say this to complain, this is what life looks like at 49 when you’re trying to start a new career while still holding onto the day job that pays your bills with a kid and a husband and an old house. It’s not sexy or glamorous, it just is. On a daily basis, the number of plates I am tasked with keeping spinning is slightly dizzying and some days I just can’t keep up. There are small victories and small setbacks on any given day. There are infrastructure issues to be dealt with all over the place – the house, the cars, our bodies.
In the moment, it can be hard to appreciate, but around every corner is a reminder that it could be far worse. Life goes on regardless.