This Is The Hardest Part Of Mid-Life

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Summer has finally reached my neck of the woods and the end-of-school-year plans are keeping me in a constant state of wondering what the hell I’m forgetting.

When is that field trip again? What did I sign up for to bring into the end-of-year party? When the hell is the last day of school again?

And I’m doing it all alone, sans another adult in the house to help make lists and keep my kind right.

I’m trying to plan a few fun activities for summer while keeping things kind of chill. I know full well my teenagers want to spend time with their friends (without me), and don’t want me scheduling every second of the summer break like I have in the past. Honestly, I’m happy to let go and oblige. You know, relax, take a load off, let them do their thing.

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But there’s something tugging at me lately: As soon as they have a full week off of school, they are heading a few hours north with their father to their lake house (that used to have my name on its mortgage papers) with his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s daughter, and the family dog. I’m happy my kids still get to experience fun-filled days on the water, jumping off the dock, and staying up late talking in their bunk beds, but this isn’t what I pictured my life to be like as an almost 44-year-old woman.

No one walks down the aisle, promising to be in love until they die thinking it will all end — although it happens quite a bit.

The thing that constantly puts me in a state of “how the hell did I get here?” is being away from my kids, whether it’s for a night or a week. It feels so unnatural to me and I don’t think I’ll ever get comfortable with it.

When I put my blood, sweat, and tears into our little lake front cottage just five years ago, I thought I’d spend weekends and vacations there forever. I wondered how we’d make room for our grandkids. I wanted to buy a bigger boat so we could take our guests on boat rides. I was constantly looking to the future, and that future involved being with my then husband and kids all the time.

I love my new life. I really do. I wanted my divorce. I did. I’ve made some really big dreams of mine come true since then. I’ve leaped over hurdles I didn’t think I could because I had no choice and had to figure it all out for my damn self.

I’m proud, I’m strong, I know I’m capable. But my life isn’t at all what I thought it would be despite being pretty fucking amazing. I have my dream job. I’m a better parent now than I was while married. I’m in the best shape of my life. But sometimes I regret not trying harder to stay married even though it felt so right at the time to go our separate ways.

I even wonder if I’m on the right path. I sometimes think, Did I do this right?

And there are days when I’m extremely sad about that.

And then, to pile emotion on top of emotion, I think, I’m too old to let this bother me. Haven’t I learned anything? Haven’t I grown at all? Look at all I’ve been through. When am I going to grow out of these feelings?

I seemed to think when I entered mid-life that nothing would phase or affect me. I thought I’d be more laid back, more accepting, softer. I thought I’d have it all figured out, that I’d be smarter, and make fewer mistakes, but I don’t feel that way at all.

I think that’s what fucks us up the most — thinking we are going to be at a certain place by a certain age and believing we will be happy and whole then.

But it doesn’t seem to be so. Not for me, a divorced woman who wanted nothing more than to be married and have oodles of kids. Not for my close friend who isn’t sure what she wants to do when her kids go to school and feels lost because she’s still not sure who she wants to be when she grows up. And not for my a former co-worker who’s tired of renting an apartment despite working her ass off in a job she loves, and thought she’d be a homeowner by now. And especially not for my cousin who has chased all his dreams, followed his plan to a T, always has the sun shining on him because things just fall into place for him, but still wonders if he should have played his life differently.

You can be a happy person but still feel lost at any age. You wonder if you are living the life you should. You question if you’ve made the right decisions along the way, if you married the right person, took the right career path, traveled enough before starting a family.

You can be successful in your career but still be looking for a missing link you thought would have you feeling settled into your life by now.

You can be in a happy relationship and still struggle with the same insecurities you had when you were a teenager, and wonder when the hell your mind will shift so you can shed the old beliefs and finally move on.

It seems we all have regrets, paths not traveled, decisions we should have made, and things we kick ourselves for not saying.

If you have it all figured to a science, please share. But chances are you are left wondering what could have been whether you are miserable or deliciously happy in your life. Maybe knowing we all share a side of regret with a side of “I should have gone for it” is enough to comfort you and take chances now that you didn’t earlier in life. The best thing (I find) is to keep pushing forward instead of being pulled back. All we have is what’s happening now and I don’t intend to waste my Now, even if I have regrets about it later. You in?

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