Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Musings about Being Forty-Five

Last night I was putting away a magazine that my husband had left on the floor and happened to notice a thought-provoking essay. I'm too lazy to go check for sure, but I think the it was entitled, "It's All Downhil from Here." The jist of the essay was that your body and brain start falling apart after age twenty. At first, I thought the essay's tone was going to be funny, but it was actually depressing overall. Then today, I was driving home from work, and NPR had a story about how most people are less happy in their forties. Since I am smack dab (I think that's the first time I've ever written the words "smack dab.") in the middle of my forties, I decided to ponder that whether I think it really sucks getting older.

I think that I have felt more comfortable in my skin as I've gotten older, but my forties have been quite stressful-- not unhappy, just exhausting. I've always struggled between being a devoted parent and working, but as my children have gotten older, I've let work wear me out more than I allowed it to when I was younger. You'd think I would know better. I'm not a workaholic. I don't even like working that much, but I have spent too much time working during my forties, especially teaching night classes. Getting my Master's degree was satisfiying but also pretty much all consuming for four years. Even when I wasn't working on it, I was feeling guilty that I wasn't. I also used to run close to twenty-five miles a week all through my thirties. It's seemed like too much to me for the last couple of years though.

After saying that I think I've figured out the secret to being happy when you're in your forties. It's to slow down on things that wear you out. I have been a lot happier recently than I've been for a long time, and it's because I've definitely had more leisure time in just the last couple of months. For the last year or so I was running less because I was either sick or exhasuted. Now I'm intentionally running less, I'm finished with writing difficult papers, and I don't intend to teach another night class. I've made time to do the things I like to do. I've cooked lots of good dinners, gone on walks with my husband, and actually enjoyed going to my kids' sporting events since I wasn't fitting them between lots of other obligations, and I've had time to KNIT...
And that's all I want to say about that!


I like knitting stuff for myself, but it's fun to feel like I have the time to knit little gifts too. My husband mentioned the other day how cute he thought our neice's little son, who got to see when he was back visiting his father before he died, was. He was saying that he'd like to get him a little gift for Easter. I thought, "Well, I can knit him a little rabbit." I notice that his legs are a little too short, but I think he's pretty sweet. He's knit from a skein of angora I bought at Threads in Lincoln, Nebraska for under five dollars. I knit his sweater from some Rowan cotton that I bought from Woodland Woolworks to knit some Easter eggs from a pattern that Julie has posted on her blog.

10 comments:

TheBlackSheep said...

Oh now he is cute! You do the cutest decorations (which I always feel like I don't have the time to do)

Wanna feel better? My uncle, who is more than a few years older than you, had a check up a couple of weeks ago. They were talking about what great shape he's in and the doctor told him that 70 is actually the new 40. People are living longer and better lives, so it's not like when we were growing up and 40 was middle aged. Now you have to wait until 70 to have your mid-life crisis.

Does that help any?

Hege said...

He'a a lucky boy getting that cute rabbit!!

marit said...

What a cute rabbit!
I'll turn 45 later this year, and have to say I am really glad I'm not in my 20's again!!!

Wool Winder said...

Adorable! I really like the picture of him lounging in a pile of yarn. I think a lot of us would love to wallow in yarn.

JayJay said...

That rabbit is so cute! I don't think his legs look short at all (or maybe that's part of his charm).

I often read about how everything is downhill after 30 (I teach learning and memory). The good news is that even if our memories are a little worse, we have also learned a bunch of tricks to improve it. :)

Birdsong said...

The rabbit is adorable and I am glad to hear you are making a point to do the fun stuff!

I am only a bit encouraged by The Black Sheep's comments; I certainly don't feel as 'springy' at 53 as I did at 23 and wonder about this 'new 40' thing. I do agree that we will be able to age healthier, but we will also still need to work culturally to adjust our expectations about longer life spans and life quality, as we still live in a youth-oriented culture.

Tracy said...

Great advice for 40's...I will take them with me. I'm halfway to 40 already! I'm very happy with life at 35, feeling more and more content with who I am. I wouldn't want to be 18 or in my 20's again for anything--I take now gladly! Your bunny is sooo adorable, sweetest face! His legs are just right. :o) Happy week ((HUGS))

Knittings Nice! said...

Quite struck a cord with me...I personally found my 40's quite stressful...I had a houseful 7 of us......never had much time for myself....and always actually really never found time to find myself...BUT..then they left one my one...married..jobs etc and then turned 50....absolutely wonderful...I at last knew who I was, where I was going, where I wanted to be along with darling hubby of course.....lots of knitty time now....loving 50's...I also try not to look at each birthday as a number I think age is a state of mind...I have a very good friend who was 30 at 20...60 at 40 and so on...if you get my drift...she worries about her retirement and its ions away.... Also very interestingly I do find that I cannot do now what I used to do in one day...say the housework...easy peasy I just spread it over. ttfn x

dogquilter said...

Getting older isn't for sissies (Maxine says). On the up side, you are more comfortable in your skin, you keep friends who you care about and who care about you, ones who accentuate your positive and help you get over your negative. You finally reach a point in life where you know what matters and what is incidental. You take the time not only to smell the roses, but to plant some too. You are deeper, your thoughts your conversations, your loves and your passions. You have depth and substance after you are 40, you have lived and you have experience and stories that mean something. Don't be sad, just think what you will accomplish in the 45 years!!

Jimberlys said...

I adore your rabbit! You failed to mention in your post what pattern you used. I love Julie's website and am hoping that someday she will be selling her rabbit pattern. What pattern did you use?

P.S. I just turned 50 on 3/2.....Just a different stage....We get to watch the kids exciting lives and that alone wears us out!
Patty