I'm In My 50s But I'm Not Living The 'Empty Nest' Lifestyle
Being a mother of five-year-old twin boys at the age of 53 is a whole other level of tired. Like 4th-circle-of-eternal-boulder-pushing-with-Sisyphus-riding-piggy-back tired.
Some days I just don’t know where I’m going to get the energy.
The boys’ constant demand for attention is so… demanding. The endless bickering, boundless messes, bottomless hunger… it all saps my energy.
While they themselves are unending bands of the stuff, bouncing and careening over any and all semblance of peace and order. And Legos and PlayDoh. And happy meal toys and wrappers. And the last remaining vestiges of nerves that make up my life.
I wonder… can I steal some of that energy? Harness it for the stamina I need to entertain these green goblins of go-gettedness for the next fourteen hours? The next 15 years? Because I seem to have zero reserves of go-gettedness left. Zilch.
I don’t recall being anywhere near this kind of tired when my girls where little. But then again, I wasn’t anywhere near this kind of age when my girls were little. I was a young mom to young kids. Now I’m a — well, let’s just say an older mom to young kids.
Which makes my life way more than a wee-bit more exhausting. I would swear I’m anemic, but they’ve tested me for that.
Mercy. Most days I beg for mercy. And mercifully, most days, there’s the swimming pool.
Swimming is their favorite right now. They love to splash in the coolness, to feel the ripples across their shoulders, to dive beneath the surface and hear their warbling words come out in whomps that burst in bubbles above their drifting curls.
So I take them to the pool. For them — and for me. It gives them play. And it gives me peace.
It’s the easiest part of my day right now. Demands diminish in the calm, soft ripples of silver and blue. The boys splash and play like sweet little sprites, and I’m granted a blessed disconnect from the harshness of my real — and really hard — world. Until…
My goggles are slipping! I’m hungry! My noodle is missing! There’s a frog in the pool! Parker won’t talk to me! Tate broke my head! I’m h-u-u-ungr-r-r-ry!!!
The whines cut the calm like a chainsaw, severing it into the bloody little jagged pieces of pandemonium that is my life.
And it dawns on me. I’m not anemic. I’m exsanguinated. There’s nothing left to bleed.
I saw a story the other day from the Wall Street Journal celebrating a slew of women in their fifties, empty-nesters with newfound freedom to fly the coop and reinvent themselves.
One woman picked up and moved to the crater of a volcano. Another biked across the United States in a peace sign pattern. A third went snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. None, though, said, “Hey, I’ll raise a second set of kids.” None.
Many women I know commented on the article, saying they’d had their children early, and now they were living their best lives.
Well… I had my children early. And I had my children late. My nest is ragged and worn, with a whole lotta years left to go.
Perhaps there’s a reason God made sure most women don’t have babies after 40, much less 48.
And now, in my summer of 53, with school about to begin again, and Sisyphus and his boulder on my back, and my 5-year-old twins in my nest, and me on my own for the next six months while my husband resumes his football duties — I refuse to believe I can’t still reinvent myself. In my fifties. With a far-from-empty nest.
I will work even harder to make this writing dream of mine come true.
I will continue to carve out words from the smallest slivers of time. I will keep stringing stolen seconds into sentences. I will keep climbing the steep and thorny path of progress while keeping my nestlings as content as two five-year-old boys can possibly be. Which isn’t very. And not often.
But I will not give in. Because inside the exhaustion of it all, there is also inspiration. And there is also breathtaking beauty.
This morning, my little goblins came creeping into my bedroom at Seven-Zero-Zero, as my oldest son says. (They are NOT allowed to leave their rooms until that six-five-nine has flipped. And they waste nary a second once it has.)
For a minute, I so wanted to bark at them to go back where they came from and just let mama sleep.
But then, they are where they came from… curled up on my body like fiddlehead ferns, tentacles tracing my cheek, lips kissing my eyelids, chattering away like baby birds about their daddy and the swimming pool and the desperate need to water the garden before it rains. We have to GET UP… NOW. And how could I be mad at that?
They are where they came from, and they are where they belong. For this season. And for always.
And yes, there’s a reason God made sure most women don’t have babies at fifty. But you know what? I’m not most women.
I can raise these boys with the grace and the grit they deserve. With the same grace and grit I raised my girls with. I will. They deserve no less.
And I can also write my memoirs and my musings and murder my little darlings (it’s a writing metaphor, please do not be alarmed…) with the grace and the grit that I deserve, too. I can and I will.
Because I’m not most women.
I had my children early, and I had my children late. My family is beautiful and messy and more-than-I-can-handle most Mondays and a whole lot of other days, too. But still… I am absolutely living my best life and reinventing myself, too.
And while I’m not swimming with turtles off a Darwinian desert isle, it is still survival of the fittest in all its glory. It’s all fight and all flight. And while most days I feel I’ve been exsanguinated, I’m not dead yet.