Friday, October 26, 2012

The Middle Ages

One recent Sunday, we went to the local park, where we met up with some friends we had not seen in a while. There was much to report. Growing families, grandparents and even some parents in declining health, who would be taking care of the mother in-law? Life changes were falling around us like jewel colored leaves off a tree.

"The Martin dairy farm is going up for auction this week," she told me, shading her eyes from the sun. They'd be heading out to the county to watch the neighboring farmers bid on the old home place.

"No one wants it?" I asked in disbelief.

"Nope. With six brothers and only one of them farming...it will be sad. What about your grandparent's house?"

Oh, that. Up for sale. Open house today. It's my mom's old home place and it's been tough for her.

I looked at my friend, still thin as a sheet of paper turned sideways. Probably still cutting her dress from the same pattern as when she was sixteen. But wait, are those some gray strands of hair I see peeking out in the front? Did she notice mine?

"These are the kind of things you talk about when you are middle aged," she said with a smile.

Middle aged. 

My friend, who is a few years my junior, was whole-heartedly, joyfully, embracing the concept of a time in life we call middle aged. She was at peace with it, and felt no pressure to be seen as the young women we were ten or fifteen years ago. I loved that. It validated something I always say, which is, you better love whatever age you are and claim it. If you have a problem with forty, you'll have a bigger problem fifty. Have a problem with fifty? Seventy will probably kill you. 

Photo courtesy of friend and frequent commenter BATMom. Don't you love it?
 I remember when I was getting married, thinking what a relief it was that I would never have to worry about who I was going to marry ever again. No more worries about finding the right man, or having to plan my life around the unknown. My middle age feels a little bit like that, in that I no longer wonder who I'll grow up to be, what I'll be like when I'm established. The fruit of the decisions made in the past are here, and ripe. Some are sweet and juicy, a few are seconds I hope to turn into sauce or jam. Either way, I'm the grown up that I knew I'd be someday, and while I'm committed to being a lifelong learner, the peak of the mountain has a wonderful surprise at the top. You can look down and see your youthful worries, indiscretions, and insecurities fading as you climb higher, disappearing as they become smaller. Meanwhile, the view around you is lovely. 

Sometimes I see something and think, oh, I've always liked that. Other times it's more like, oh, if you had told me twenty years ago that I would like this I'd have thought you were crazy. I love how we never stop growing and changing.  

I'm okay with being middle aged, even calling it that. It is a grateful life we lead that we can choose a favorite season that comes around every year, greeting us like an old friend. Then there are the seasons of life that come, stay for a while, and are gone forever having served their purpose. While the warm harvest of summer will always be my favorite time of year, I can enter this season of life peacefully, with confidence that an exciting hay ride awaits.

27 comments:

  1. Lovely post, Monica. Your writing is a great blessing to me. You articulate things that my mind cannot even form into complete sentences!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Becka. I just try to write what's in my heart.

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  2. That is a beautiful picture and I am glad your friend is letting you share it :).. Even though I dont know the house or the families that lived in them, I am still a bit saddened to read of the pending selling..

    I thought if I were ever a rich woman I would buy up the old farmsteads just to give them back to someone in the family that couldnt have afforded it other wise.. I love the history that goes with old farmhomes and land.. the dreams the settlers once had for the homestead

    But I must ask... Define Middle Age? I do not like to think that the 30's are middle age but only the beginning of adult hood. HA HA HA

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    1. Good question, Barn Swallow! For me, approaching middle age hasn't been about a number, It's been about changing priorities and experiences. It's more like a you'll-know-it-when-it-arrives type of stop on the journey.

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  3. What a lovely post.

    And what lovely posts in the picture lol. It must have taken somebody a deal of time to get those all there like that.

    I am also middle aged and can I honestly say I embrace it? To be quite honest, no, I resent it. For one thing, I have only jst really realised what I want to do with my life (all the rest just 'happened'). But I am taking to heart your comment about if you hate being forty, you will hate fifty even more (I am past 50 already) and seventy will kill you! Being who we are, by the grace of God, is not something to resent or fight against; it is something we (I) need to accept.

    Thank you.

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    1. Ruth, I can really identify with the idea of just figuring out what you want to do with your life. That happens to me all the time! You'll get more satisfaction if you can see middle age as a beginning to a new chapter rather than being half finished with the book.

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  4. Beautiful post, Monica! As one who crossed the fifty threshold, I can honestly say I feel better now than when I was in my twenties and thirties. I am more comfortable in my own skin and have a different perspective on life which does come with the "Middle Ages".

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    1. Randi- I once heard that being in your twenties is like having a bad hair day, every day. It was for me! :)

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  5. GREAT post! I, too, enjoy middle age except for a few things. For one, my back hurts more, which makes me not look forward to being even older with even more back problems. However, that's manageable. The other thing is, isn't this what is called the "sandwich generation"? We're dealing with children getting older, but also our aging parents, like you said. A few more worries are added to the plate. It's just a part of life though, and the new worries or concerns are just replacing others. LOVE this post ~ thanks.

    Also, that BATmom sure knows a thing or two about pictures, doesn't she?? That's GREAT - she should sell it as a screensaver!! Good job, BATmom. (Every time I type BATmom, I accidentally type BATman first and have to do it over. Every. Time.)

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    1. I have a post coming up on how BATMom is really Bat Man. ;)

      While I haven't quite hit the sandwich generation yet, I'm very interested in that idea after having watched some of my family welcome new grandchildren while caring for their parents. People like that need a lot of support and prayers!

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    2. You two are killing me, as always! I can't wait to read the post about how this BAT Mom really wears the BAT pants in the family!!

      Thank you for your sweet comments, Ms. imPH, but really, as I told BAT Grandma, who said much the same thing, you don't have to do anything but point and shoot if you live in a place like I lived when I took that picture (5 minutes from where I took it). Every scene was a picture that day. It's an incredible stretch of road that I just love.

      I LOVE this post, as always, Monica. I love that you allow us to see these insights into your heart and spirit. You are a treasure, and to know you is to love you. But I do have to admit to receiving a major jolt at the idea that you spring chickens think YOU are middle-aged! I'm 55 and I thought I was just becoming middle-aged! Haha! Seriously! How could you youngsters think you are middle-aged?! This is shocking to me! Seriously! Am I deluded, or just an old woman?! Am I supposed to be wearing purple?! Somebody better tell me these things if I am, because I'm going to have to go shopping! Haha!

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  6. Lovely post,and one I say Amen to.....dealing with some changes of my own right now,but thankful for him who helps us through it all :) Your words are a blessing...the picture is beautiful.

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  7. As one whose parents where told when I was four to take me home and enjoy me because I would die, I love every age of life God blesses me with! I have had countless health issues and am in pain every day but I love being 53 and can't wait to see what God has in store for me!

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    1. Shelley~ Thanks! I know God will carry you through your changes safely.

      Michelle~ What a great attitude you have, and so much thankfulness! It's really encouraging. God bless you!

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  8. Monica, what a beautiful and meaningful post! You have a way of wording your reflections that are so poignant. I had this conversation with someone just recently... how much emphasis there is on staying young in this culture, when our age is what it is. I love being 55!

    It is so nice to find a kindred spirit!

    Your being seventy joke is great. It reminds me of the story of a man and his wife going out for a meal on his 50th. birthday. A genie came along and offered him he could have anything he wished for. The man wished he had a wife who was twenty years younger then him, and poof! -- he became 70 instantly.

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    1. What a great joke, Saloma! I can't wait to retell it to those ladies who will appreciate it. It's always a blessing to me to hear from people who are comfortable with themselves in many different ways, whether it be their age, looks, or abilities. There is much to be discontent about in this imperfect world, but those things we cannot change are worthy of acceptance. In fact, they are often gifts.

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  9. I hope that you folks will make out ok with the approaching storm Sandy! Richard

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  10. Oh Monica, I just turned 50 on Sunday and became a grandmother this year. My children laughed because 2 years ago I got so excited thinking that was the year I turned 50 and they had to burst my bubble and tell me I had two more years to go. I made it finally! I am proudly 1/2 century old!

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  11. Love reading this post.Makes me pause and think about what I am doing with my life and what I want to do yet. All those things that I say I will do when I am more mature and the children are more independent......Suddenly I look up and realize I am older, if not more mature, and the children are leaving home and I realize it is time to get on the ball if I hope to accomplish anything before I am too old and decrepit!!!

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  12. An awesome post, dear friend! I feel the same way. I love being middle aged! I love it so much, I don't want it to end... uh, oh... When does it end and what do we call the next "age"? (I hate the term "golden age") I think it should be more valuable than even gold! Not sure when it starts so I'm keeping with "middle aged" until I no longer care to walk through the leaves of fall and make snowmen in the winter! I know I'm not over the hill, yet because I can't see over the top of the mountain, and I'm looking forward to that first real snowfall!

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    1. Peggy, we already have surmised that you are, and probably always will be, a kid at heart!

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  13. Great photo . . . Love it!

    As to becoming middle-aged . . . I noticed that I suddenly seem to care much less what people think when I speak, especially when it comes to my children's well-being. And when it comes especially to Miss Katya . . watch out. I'm the Mama Bear if you mess with my kiddo. I laugh at precisely how much I have become like the older "granny types" that I used to marvel at. I stunned even my husband with my "infamous PICU speech" after the floor nearly let her die post-op. He wasn't expecting what came out of my mouth. So I'd love to know if that is one facet you notice or not?

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    1. That's a really good question, about whether t's just one facet or many. I'd say a few, definitely more than one, but not yet a great many. I'm much more confident in general about sticking up for myself these days. As we get older, I wonder if we all get more confident in speaking up, and that's not a bad thing. It's preparaing us for that day when we will cross that threshold where we can really speack up in bold, outrageous, and whacky ways, and get away with it!

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  14. Enjoyed this post, but it also made me sad. Just this year my grandparents farm was sold. I would have loved to be able to buy it! I have to keep reminding myself, this world is not my home, and neither was that house! It was the people and memories that went with it. (Still, it was a neat house!) I have no desire to go back to my youth! I'm quite happy with my middle age!

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    1. Very true, Tia! That's how I felt about my grandparent's home. We're all pilgrims here just passing through, and it's important to remember that.

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