Independence Day (the Magic Years)


I went to bed last Monday night feeling a bit sad. After watching American Ninja Warrior with his dad, our son Ailin packed up some more of his stuff and headed to his new home. This is the first time he has lived anywhere except here. Here. At my house. My house. Okay, of course, it’s the family house, and, of course, Hugh and I live here together. Oh, but still. I went to bed a bit sad and a bit afloat. Am I really ready to be this next version of me in the next stage of life?

HELL TO THE YEAH I AM.  I woke early on Tuesday. Was it Christmas morning? No, it was Independence Day. This was my house. Let’s pound some tunes before 8 am. I felt energized in a way I hadn’t for months, ready to get my body and spirit moving.

Having my adult children here simply felt wrong. It was past due, over ripe. I haven't stopped                          worrying about them. I continue to support them. I’m still Mama. But there isn’t a constant reminder of their needs when they’re living somewhere else as there is when they’re here in my space. I won’t have that tick tick tick in my brain, wondering if they’re on time for work in the morning or why aren’t they home late at night. There’s just so much more room to not give a fuck.

And that’s a mighty fine place to be. I looked in the mirror this morning at my funky curls and I thought, I’m liking my funky curls. Go, Funky. Go, Curly. I have held onto a longtime dissatisfaction with my looks; I am not a beautiful woman. I’m not ugly, either, and I am feeling much better about not caring about my looks because TBH no one else does. Everyone looks more beautiful with a smile, so, you know, just have more to smile about.

Such as, BEING ALONE IN MY HOUSE. Cleaning out the cabinets. I’m cleaning out the pantry. I like having so much space and extra room.

Siobhan says my dog Zee is my Empty Nest baby. Could be. I chased her outside this morning: go play. Mama’s gonna clean up in here.

I had a blast in my 40s, raising kids into teens. Maybe I’ll look back and say, yes, that was the best time in my life. Maybe nothing again will feel as connected and vital, as surprising and nurturing. I’m so much stronger now, though. My compassion for others is stronger, my patience is stronger, my ability to stay calm is stronger. None of those are easy for me, but I’m getting better and those qualities make my life both richer and easier. The way I feel today, maybe the 50s will turn out to be my best time of life.

Or it could be the 60s, when I’m even stronger, when my boundaries are firmer and my giving-a-fucks have faded more. Then again, how sweet might the 70s be. I imagine I could grow more detached from work. I could become more appreciative of what I can do rather than constantly, always whipping myself for what I cannot and do not do.

The 50s, 60s, 70s -- this post-menopausal, post-production time is fertile for exploration, travel, creativity, all the things that can happen when we are less tied to the chores of growing a family. I don’t have to make space for two other large, hormonal young humans who are still messily figuring stuff out. What’s the name for this part of life? Empty Nest? Hell no. Mama’s still feathering this nest because it’s my nest.

Maybe I’ll come up with some great name later, but for now I’m going to call these the Magic Years. Magic happens when there’s intention, experience, skill, and wisdom and when there’s not a ton of attachment to outcome. Magic happens all the time, and these years are a wonderful time to notice magic more. Having grown two humans, now I can go grow something else – or not – maybe I just rest a while. Or maybe I make magic happen, sparking it from my fingertips as I dance, sharing it in my prayers as I run, dreaming of it at night. Maybe I make magic happen, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out.