Midlife can be such an awesome time of life. Your children have grown up and left the coop, the rat race doesn’t seem quite as important any more and you begin to blissfully envision what the coming years will be like without the shackles of responsibilities to others. The possibilities are endless. You can do what you want, when you want and most importantly, where you want. You are free!
But it is really hard when you have spent a majority of your life taking care of others to shed your title as mother, daughter and wife. It is your instinct to nurture and take care of others and always put everyone’s needs in front of your own. How do you all of a sudden, put yourself first? I admit it has been so long since I have done that, that I am not even sure what it is I do want this time of my life to look like.
When things were really crazy in my life with schedules and everyone wanting a piece of me, I would dream about getting in my car and driving far away. Wouldn’t it be great to pull a “Thelma and Louise” and leave everything behind? I would post a note to the fridge that said, “I’m on strike, fend for yourselves.” Of course I never did it. But it was fun to think about it, even if for a split second.
So here I am at a time when I could do it but I don’t. Why not? What is stopping me?
For me, firstly, I think it comes down to believing that everyone can’t survive without me. Not to sound narcissistic but if I go away, who will look after my oldest son who has type 1 diabetes, my husband who has bipolar (and can’t retire for another 5 years), not to mention, my 86-year-old mother who needs constant care? And then I think, have I set it up this way? Have I made it so that they are all still reliant on me or is it in my head? Maybe a little of both.
And secondly, it’s the money. Always about the money. Can I afford to just take off? I am reminded of those couples that hold off having children till they are financially ready. While I do believe that you should be prepared to a certain extent, you never can be fully prepared for the financial drain children come with (I say that most lovingly) and if you wait till then, you may never have them. If I continue to wait until I have everything budgeted out, will it be too late?
And by too late, I mean, yes, whether I like to believe it or not, death is always a possibility. How many times have you heard that so and so retired and then passed away? Many times, they worked long past the time they could have left their job but continued on, padding their nest egg. And for what? Now they are gone and like they say, “You can’t take it with you.”
Too late can also mean that the opportunity to go and enjoy the things you want while you are still healthy to do so. One of the regrets my mother has is not enjoying the times when she was relatively healthy. Her health problems have existed for over 30 years but there was a time she could have traveled to her condo in Florida but rarely did because there was always next year. Now it is definitely, too late.
And so, I have my first trip in 2 years planned it April. It is a short one to Las Vegas but a test run none the less to see how we all fair. Hopefully after that a girl’s week away to Cape Cod in June and fingers crossed, I am planning a month-long visit to my sister in England in September. I love to travel and have squashed the urge long enough. It is time.
Don’t let the dreams of midlife turn into the regrets of too late in old age. Do it now.
What holds you back from doing the things you want to do?