July 7, 2014

thoughts on turning 45 with a 2 year old

It's a few weeks away yet, but I treat it as if it's a year. I don't feel like 45 is a celebration. More like a nail positioned at the middle of my coffin, reminding me of my mortality as every day brings me closer to that reality.

Oh, that sounds terribly morbid. Let me start again.

I'm about to turn 45, and most all of my peers are either 10 years younger than me or, if they're my age, are dealing with teenage or fully grown children. How do I feel about that? Weird. And kind of funny.

I made peace with our starting-a-family-in-our-40s status a while ago, especially when I learned we are part of a growning demographic. The fact that I don't actually know anyone else in our demographic is not the point. The point is, today is all I have and I don't spend it wishing I was somewhere else in life -- that I was younger when I had our son, that I paid closer attention to my career development, that I had my own house years ago rather than six months ago...

We can all go down that road, can't we?

And yet, turning 45 with a toddler is serious business. At a time when most women my age are at the top of their professional game, I'm working part time so I can spend more time with my son. When others are getting close to being empty-nesters, I will be past retirement age when my son is in college. When other parents would encourage their children to put off marriage and family in favor of careers and "playing the field," I'll be trying not to tell my son too often how much I'd love it if he married early, started a family when he has the most energy (and can give me grandchildren while I'm still around), and bypassed the aimlessness of those years known as our 20s. It's also weird to have friends many years younger than me that already have many years more experience parenting.

I'm kind of exhausted most of the time, but I will say that it has gotten easier lately. In fact, just in the last few weeks I've noticed that I have been better able to accept my son the way he is rather than getting frustrated because he's not just a little older (i.e., spills less, talks more, is potty trained, etc.). Because you know what? Again, today is all I have.

Our adventures as a family are just beginning. I don't have to be buddies with another couple who's our age trying to start a family. It would be fun, but it's not necessary. Having friends no matter where they are in life makes everything more colorful, more bearable.

I mentioned that being 45 with a 2 year old is funny. What's funny about it? When my son is a teenager, I will be in the throes of menopause. Ha! He'll never know what hit him, poor guy. And he won't be able to get away with anything because his parents will have a lifetime of experience and will see trouble a mile away. I hope.

Finally, as much as being middle-aged with a toddler is uniquely exhausting, I also think he'll keep me young. After all, I can't afford to lay around and watch TV -- I have to maintain a level of mental and physical fitness just to keep up with him.

Bring it on!