4/20/2015

How to Be a Sassy Old(er) Woman Pt 1

Society doesn't really provide a script for women to behave as we approach mid-life, although there are plenty of archetypes to choose from at a more advanced age. I 'm not sure where the demarcation lies - is it 50? 60? 65? retirement? grand-motherhood? "I just don't care about conventions anymore?" "I'm retired now, I can do as I please?" "I'm pissed as hell, hear me roar?" The whole sexy-cougar-MILF thing just isn't of interest to me anymore. Maybe its due to the post-menopausal hormone drain, that leaves me feeling about as sexy as a balloon that lost all its air. I think that last surge of sexiness is something of interest to women who had their children at 20, and are now 38 with teenagers. That's the age where women start to get nervous about their looks fading; thank god I was overwhelmed with babies and diapers at that age and it just whizzed right by me as I tried to go a single day without getting baby stains on my last clean shirt.
 
Whatever the cause, I have reached the point in my life where I am quickly shedding my previous roles and concerns. Maybe what is liberating is finally, after 20-25 years, I don't have to change someone's diaper, feed them, work to earn money to care for them, spend every waking moment either driving them or else attending some function for them, giving them all my money and never having anything fun for myself, and then having the very child you slave for to turn and be embarrassed by your (extremely constrained, as normal as you can make it) self.  Ah, teenagers: God's gift to parents, otherwise, if they stayed cute and adorable like a 4 year old, you'd never want them to leave. So maybe the demarcation is when your kids have moved on to lives of their own and you are free to be as whimsical as you always wished you could be. (There's always the Mr. to worry about, your last child, but hopefully he can manage to take care of himself now and then.)
First on my list of reinventing myself at mid-age was to start at the bottom of my list (based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.) After 20+ years of only having the pet the Mr and the kids wanted, I went out any got a pet for my own needs. Then I swapped out the mommy bus (aka minivan) for something a bit sportier, zippier, and luxe- hey if men can do it, why can't women? Next thing up is to consciously schedule more time with your girlfriends - because as the internet meme reminds us, the odds are likely that you will outlive your husband. You need to get some girlfriends stat to spend the last 25-30 years of your life with. Last but not least: fun clothes. I am at the point where I am working on a more comfortable, artsy -looking wardrobe , a little bit at a time.
 These aspects of reinvention, however, are all superficial. Who is your role model? What do you want to do with the last quarter or third of your life? Who do you want to be like? Mother Theresa? Eleanor Roosevelt? Tina Turner? I have one friend, Bonnie, who is an artist (yes, she actually earns a living from this) and who , in her late 60's or early 70's (she will never say) has the most energy, is the most adventuresome, creative, spirited person I know. Bonnie never seems to sleep, she stays awake all night, reads a million books, loves dancing, travel, can talk for hours on any subject and never be dull. She is in great health and has the pep of a 20 year old, and she is a great inspiration to me.
 I do know this much: I have spent a lifetime of keeping my mouth shut about the things I care about - worried about keeping my job, creating enemies, causing problems, going alone, keeping the peace. No more. I figure this is the best time, when not distracted by the overwhelming responsibilities of daily living, to speak one's mind. It is the duty of the crone (in the Jungian series of female archetypes: the maiden, the mother, the crone) or elder female to pass on the wisdom of previous generations, and to speak up when others cannot, to improve life and remind society of its values, to point out its errors, to help develop solutions. There are several versions of this speaking up, and I hope not to be the cranky old curmudgeon sort of person. Rather, I hope to be the cool granny out there, protesting and volunteering to help others live a better life. What are the causes you care about? Who else is going to raise awareness, if not you?


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