Are there any happy 50 to 60 something women, and could they please write a book? I find myself reading many memoirs written by women in this age group and all of them have a husband who has died or been in a terrible accident or if their husband is still alive, they are currently going through a horrific divorce.
Don’t get me wrong, these are very well written books full of insight and humor. These women are strong and provide inspiration. But honestly, I would just like to find one book about a women who is incredibly, deliriously happy with her balding, slightly overweight and occasionally flatulent husband of 25 years.
I want to read about how she just adores brushing her teeth next to her hubby each and every morning and can hardly wait to see her honey each evening after a satisfying and intellectually stimulating day of work, only to have incredibly satisfying and stimulating dinner conversation together. And of course next would be, you guessed it, incredibly satisfying and stimulating sex.
I am 36, almost 37 and I’m getting worried. I have been married for 12 years, I think. I have to sometimes look at the inside of my wedding band to double–check the date of our wedding. I have 2 children and I tell myself that our lives are chaotic and busy now but when the boys go off to college, my husband and I will have so much fun reveling in our quiet, taking wonderful trips, enjoying our free time. Oh yeah, and having the energy and interest to have sex again more than a quick, “The boys are both napping. Do you want to do it quick?” I’m so sure we will have candle lit dinners every night and discuss matters of great intellectual depth and laugh at each other’s witty quips.
On snowy days we will curl up on the couch and watch movies for hours, and eat shrimp scampi right out of the skillet and then, so full of love and playfulness go outside for an impromptu snowball fight and then come in and of course, have incredibly satisfying and stimulating sex.
Ok, back to reality here.
I guess what these women are telling me is that I don’t have any idea what will happen in the next 20 years so I need to make my own reality now. Quit waiting for fun to find me. Quit waiting for romance to come galloping around the corner. Quit waiting for a calm peacefulness to descend from above. Quit waiting for my husband to mow the lawn (Seriously honey, it’s a jungle. We could lose a small child in there!)
These book women, my new friends, are telling me to embrace the chaos of now. Embrace my boys who most likely have just peed on the toilet seat leaving it wet for the next time I set my unexpecting butt down. Embrace my forgetful husband who may or may not ever mow the lawn. And yes, yes, yes, embrace my ever-imperfect self.
Now I do not believe that to embrace these things means that I always have to love them or even like them or even not hate them on occasion. I will still frequently concoct elaborate plans to run away to an ashram in India or a small cottage on a deserted beach in Mexico where no one will find me.
But in between these fantasies, I will snuggle and hug and tickle my boys for as long as they will tolerate it. Then I will show them how to clean the toilet seat.
I will light a candle for a romantic cereal dinner. I will lob a snowball at my husband’s head as we head out to work on a winter morning. I will buy some sexy underwear to put us in the mood and if we are just too tired and fall asleep after briefly admiring my sexy underwear, so be it. Sleep is good.
I will also make sure that we are making our marriage a priority so that we still like each other and want to spend time together when our kids have moved on to pursue their dreams. I will take my dream trip to Africa now instead of waiting for someday. I will follow my heart.
My newest best book friend Abigail Thomas in her memoir, A Three Dog Life, writes about a chronic longing for something, “What is it? What is it we are longing for?” she asks a friend.
“There isn’t any it,” he replies. “There is just the longing for it.”
Years later Abigail discovers what the longing is for. It is for the feeling of here is where I belong.
I don’t know what will happen in the next 20 years. I don’t even know what happen in the next 20 minutes, although there is a pretty good chance there will be messy yards and wet toilet seat involved. But there is also a pretty good chance there will be quiet moments, laughter, love and some awesome snowball fights. I will not keep waiting for someday, I will live now. Here is where I belong.