Here I am sitting in the back room of my modest 1800 square foot (that includes the screened-in porch) home with my two beagles, “beagle bookends,” I affectionately call them. I notice how quiet the air is, cool with some dryness autumn evolves, seeping through the ambience of my otherwise cozy and comfy ranch house. I find the stillness of this mid-afternoon not because any kids of mine are still in school, or I opted to take a mental health day or even a sick one from work. I don’t have kids and I work from home. The quiet and still seem to collaborate to stir thoughts that have been settled but not dormant. @ 51 I am neither.
Much has been written first hand by women in the 50 plus category about the effects of being an empty-nester, of reinvention, mid-life crises, divorce. Their experiences admit life lessons as they describe triumph over adversity, answering their own question of, “Now what do I do?” when the kids are on their own, their divorce is final, they got fired from their job of 20 plus years. Their stories generally end with a “feel good,” where reader joins the cheering section with other readers. This is the point where the reinvention door opens after maybe a crisis, or a divorce. It usually seems to happen @51. I haven’t experienced any of these things.
I have been the brunt of comments, “Well, she’s in a whole nother world without kids,” or “She really couldn’t possible get it, what it does to you, having kids.” I will admit I am (in a different world) and yes, I never got it (what it was like to have kids.) It’s almost as if I am deficient in something, less than blessed, or even defective in some way because I chose to not have children. I find it is a stigma, but not a curse. I can only say, with just the right amount of grace in my tone of voice, how clear and comfortable I have learned to become, how the best possible me has turned out to be and how I have used myself to serve others. In being selfish, I am able to be self-less @51.
There does seem to be an automatic blooming that occurs @51. I can only add to what others my age have experienced. Change is common. The time seems right to travel, to act without hesitancy. “I can’t” becomes “I can.” I smile at the possibilities at what I can do. And I did. I flew a plane.
I don’t want my life lessons to read like the others who write of common experiences @51. I might think I figured out what I questioned all these years. It really comes down to experience, knowledge, maturity and grace @51. I can breathe slower and enter calmness in my mind like never before as I complement the quietness of the afternoon. I have learned, or earned to be my best self. I recognize this now that I am 51.