Tomorrow, I turn 43. Most women my age cringe at the thought of another year passing by. Not me. I relish the thought!
Age brings a freedom, understanding, and depth to one's existance that younger people just haven't any idea of.
At 3, I was surprisingly intelligent, and remember a great deal of that year. I remember my birthday party that year. My little brother was born, and I was mad about it. He was born the day they went to the moon, and my mom had woken me up very early to watch it, then went to the hospital later. I loved classical music, especially the 1812 Overture- I called it "Guns and Bells".
At 13, I was not the typical teenager. I spent most of my time with my nose in a book or with pen in hand, not out with friends, causing my parents angst. That would come later, but not at that time. I was a 'model child', good at school, showing much promise for a bright future. I didn't have any idea of reality outside the walls of my own little world, and didn't give it much thought.
When I was 23, I was a working mother of two very young children, with no time to actually enjoy anything of my own, beyond my family. Granted, I loved every minute of that, as well. My children have grown to be fantastic adults, and I'm very proud of my part in that. It was the most important job I have or ever will have in my lifetime. It deserved the attention I had given it, and I wouldn't go back and change any of it. Yet, I was identified as only Mother and Wife. Not Marcia. Keeping food on the table and raising kids was my reality then.
At 33, the kids were a bit older, but I had had two more in the intervening years, so still had my primary identity as Mother and Wife. I had at least learned how to balance a bit better; I was not working by then, so had a little more time to indulge in my own interests such as reading and a bit of writing. I was able to keep up a little more with what was going on in "the world", beyond my own community. Then the health problems hit. That took up the better part of that decade, and my world fell apart not long after.
So, that brings me to tomorrow- 43.
I have successfully raised 2 adult children, and now have 2 teens who also are showing great promise to become successful adults. That job isn't done yet, but it takes up much less of my time than changing diapers and dealing with daycare ever did. I've been able to rebuild my own world after the devastation of divorce, physical disability, and homelessness. Score another big one for me- that would have taken down a lesser woman. I'm finally at the point in my life where I can freely pursue what I want to do, not what is expected, required, or demanded of me based on societal norms, family obligation, or anyone else's expectations.
Life is GOOD! There is still so much to do, I hardly know where to start. Writing? Absolutely. I'm working on multiple projects between job, home and boyfriend. I've discovered volunteer work in joining the Elks. I'm taking better care of myself than I ever allowed myself to before, when everyone else had to come first. I look pretty darned good, for any age, let alone my own, and I feel great- most days.
I've been paying a lot more attention to "the world" in general, and most of it either makes me want to laugh, or cry. There isn't much inbetween, these days. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point I came to the realization that the vast majority of human beings are dumb as a box of hammers. Knowing this makes things much easier to understand. Right and wrong have almost nothing to do with anything in life, except what we impose on only ourselves. Most people are too wrapped up in deciding that for others, and never even bother to look within.
When I was homeless, I had a ton of time to look within. I created my own rules of behavior, code of ethics, and moral standard for self. I don't know of many who create their own. Most people I know just follow what they have been taught by family, faith, and society. I had discovered in my grief that most of what I was taught just didn't work in the context of my own life. I rearranged priorities, toughened up my own personal standards by a great deal, and chose much higher expectations of myself than anyone ever had. I also made a concious choice to be a happy person. I hadn't realized I was so very unhappy, until I did make that choice. Odd? Probably. But then, I'm not the average ordinary woman. I never have been, regardless of exterior projection of middle American mother and wife. I'm a quiet person by nature, keeping self to self, but I voice my opinions now, without reservation. What was I waiting for? I've accepted my shortcomings, especially my physical limitations, and stopped being angry about it. I am determined to expand my mental capablities, and actually utilizing them for a change in a way that fulfills me.
Freedom? The only freedom we have is within. Understanding? That comes with life experiences- good AND bad. Depth? That comes when you make a choice to listen, learn, to live your life.. and for God's sakes.. LAUGH!