Inspiration Kids Motherhood

This Stage of Life? It’s Hard Too.

This Stage of Life? It's Hard Too. (My love letter in response to the Austin Mom’s blog) www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Jennifer Allwood

I had several friends who recently posted links on Facebook to this amazing article written by the Austin Mom’s Blog. Just reading it made me want to break out in hives. 

The author is a middle 30 something with toddlers and babies. She is a decade younger than me. And clearly precious. She is probably totally nailing the parenthood thing just based on the fact that she’s even worried that she may not be nailing the parenthood thing.

This is my love letter back to that middle 30’s mom and to every other exhausted mom in their 30s.  

I want you to know what this next decade is going to look like for you.

I want to tell you what being a middle-aged mom looks like so you can brace yourself.

As a 45-year-old mother of a 9, 13 and 15-year-old, I will tell you that THIS STAGE of life is hard too. It’s just a different hard. It’s a scary hard. And humbling. And everything feels big, urgent and slightly out of your control.  

In this stage, you finally feel like you have some time and yet, you are running out of time.

The 40s are consistently very confusing and yet, very satisfying.

In this stage of life you finally get time to shave your legs again but there is this incredible realization you no longer have the thighs of  your 30’s. You now understand why moms wear swim skirts and cover-ups and capris. And it makes you sad. You google “vein clinics” but see the cost and decide capris aren’t really that bad after all.

In this stage you finally get a chance to actually read again for the first time in like 15 years. To read a book for actual pleasure instead of reading a book on how to be a better mom, or a better Christian or how to raise normal kids. You get to read whatever you want. You remember you like to read. You wonder how many great books you’ve missed in the last decade?

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But then you decide to just watch Netflix instead because TV is easier to see than the words on a page. At 45 you need readers. Your friends are getting reading glasses but you are holding out. Glasses are for old people. You aren’t old. So you stick to Netflix because. . .no words. You decide books are dumb.

In this stage you finally get to return to decorating your home. Your formal dining room is no longer overrun with mega saucers, bouncy chairs and Hot Wheel tracks. You  finally feel like you could take a chance on that tufted cream sofa because your kids have finally quit wiping their Cheetos fingers on your furniture and unscrewing the lids of their sippy cups.

But you wonder if you should use that money on a family vacation because of the whole “spend money on experiences and not things” article you just read. Sofa or vacation? Sofa or vacation? You want them both. You are torn. So much confusion at this stage.

In this stage of life you get to start dressing like a grown-up again. In actual real life clothes you can finally afford instead of the second-hand yoga pants you wore to every play-date in your 30s.

But even though you have more time and money to shop, the shopping is so confusing because you’re at such a weird age. You’re no longer young and hip enough to find things at Forever 21. You swear that Express has shrunk their clothes (you were never that size in your 30s). And yet you don’t want to shop at your mom’s stores either.

You wrestle with thoughts like can I still pull off torn jeans? Does a romper look like I am trying too hard? Are my days of wearing sleeveless shirts over because hello, arm dangles. (to you 30 somethings, “arm dangles” are what you call that lovely soft, squishy flesh on your inner arm you didn’t have in your 30s. No need to look in the mirror for it. Your precious kids will point it out to you when you grow it in your 40’s. Brace yourselves.)

How do I dress my age when on the inside I still feel like I am 28 and how can anyone even trust me with a mortgage anyway?

These are the things you wonder about in your middle 40s.

In this stage you begin to notice your hands look like your mother’s. You begin to wonder when your face actually got this many wrinkles? You swear your skin was flawless just five hot minutes ago.

You also wonder what kind of a cruel trick it is that your acne is worse in your middle 40s than it ever was as a teenager? It’s like a bad joke really. You consider botox but then remind yourself, “Wrinkles are a sign of wisdom and botox is only for women consumed with their looks.”

But you break down and get the botox because you don’t feel like being wise. You want the flawless face of your 30’s back, dang it. Wisdom is fixing the wrinkles. Hallelujah!

In this stage, every decision you make for your kids seems so much bigger. Especially the teens. Decisions on sleepovers. Riding with new drivers? Do you let them go to movies with friends? What if those friends are girls? 

HOW IN THE WORLD AM I 45 WITH TEENAGERS any stinkin’ way???? I swear I just had a fake ID like a decade ago.

Do you even know the names of their teachers anymore? No, no you don’t.

Signing the homework folder is replaced with checking their grades online once every few weeks.  YOU FEEL SO DISCONNECTED to their everyday “things” compared to how you felt in your 30’s. You feel guilty you aren’t keeping up with their studies more. Maybe you should go meet the teachers?? 

But they are honor roll kids and they want you to “back off”, so you “back off”with Netflix and a margarita on the patio with your husband and this incredible satisfaction in knowing all those spelling words you practiced in your 30s are paying off in your 40s.

Keep practicing them, ladies. Your reward comes when they hit junior high. Or in Heaven. I’m not sure, but thank you Jesus the days of spelling words and multiplication tables are o.v.e.r.

In this stage of life, you take more pregnancy tests than you did in the first half of your life. Am I pregnant? Or is my period over? Why am I sneaking pregnancy tests in the pharmacy like I am a 17-year-old??

In this stage of life your body is just a crap shoot. Do you just have old, exhausted eggs that just aren’t up for ovulating this month? Or are you knocked up at 45? It’s so confusing.

You know you’ve got old eggs and yet you also remember your hubby never DID go back and have his vasectomy tested. Cusswords. Is this a menopause belly or 9 weeks into an unexpected midlife pregnancy. Only 389 pregnancy tests will tell you. Hello, mid 40s.

In this stage of life your hormones are a freaking train wreck. Half the time you will feel exactly like you did when you were pregnant. Emotional. Tired. Fluffffffffy. 

This stage of life is filled with weird doctor appointments with the words “premenopausal”, “genetics” and “incontinence.” Your body starts to fail you in your mid 40s and it pisses you off. You are NOT that old, dang it.

In this stage of life you begin to look at things through the lens of knowing your life is half over. You start thinking really profound things like “Am I actually making a difference in this world?”  and “If I died today, have I taught my kids enough?”

Lots and lots of deep, deep thoughts followed immediately by panic when you remember you are practically out of toilet paper at home and you need to pick up your teenager from baseball like 5 minutes ago.

In this stage of life you forget everything. Pick up times. School events. Your neighbor’s name.

You begin to wonder if you need St. John’s Wart or if this is early stage dementia. You don’t google “early warning signs of dementia” because you learned your lesson when you googled “Why am I missing my period at age 45?” WebMD scared you in your 30s. But you’ve learned your lesson. You are smarter at 45. You avoid WebMD like the plague. You are a genius. You just forget a little.

In this stage of life you are merely a taxi.  So.many.trips.to.school.and.practice.and.friends.houses. You are making aaaaaaaaall the trips on aaaaaaaall the days.

This is the stage where you spend half of your afternoons texting other moms trying to remember if its YOUR day or THEIR day to pick up kids. AND WHICH SCHOOL ARE THEY EVEN AT TODAY? 

This stage of life is bloody chaos. 

In the stage of life you begin to understand you just can’t do as much physically as you want to without having week long consequences. Roller coasters that you used to ride will reduce you to tears. Is your life insurance policy paid up to date? Do you still want your same family member to raise your kids in the event of tragedy?

So.many.thoughts. just from an amusement park ride. This is why you end up letting your kids go without you. WHICH YOU VOWED YOU WOULD NEVER DO IN YOUR 30s. 

In this stage, jumping on the trampoline with your kids will result in 3 chiropractor appointments next week.

Sledding? You are rolling the dice between beautiful family memories and crutches. For real. 

You focus on things like “recovery time.” You hate that you are getting old.

In this stage of life you start doing crazy things like half marathons and triathlons and 9Rounds to remind yourself you may be middle-aged but you can still keep up with these thirty-somethings.

Then you tear your shoulder and decide keeping up with those 30 somethings is a dumb idea. Just whatever.

This stage of life is a lot of eating crow because all those things you said you’d never do with your kids? You’re totally doing. All those judgments you made against those older moms? You are eating your words. You eat crow in your 40s. A lot. It’s so much easier to parent teens when you don’t have teens.

In this stage of life you still need girlfriends like crazy. Girlfriends to text inappropriate memes to in the middle of the night. Girlfriends you can bounce rules and punishments and boundaries and questions off of. Girlfriends who will share important info with you like how they worded their living will and who they went to for plastic surgery consults.

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You need girlfriends who will assure you you’re not screwing everything up thing up. Girls who will bring you raw chocolate chip cookie dough or a bottle of moscato on a moments notice. Girls who are in the thick of this season right along with you. There is nothing quite like a bunch of moms joining arms. I love my girls so much.

In this season of your middle 40s you’re finally coming into your own as a grown up. You’ve finally learned that sometimes you just need to say, “Screw it.” And to some people you just need to say, “Screw it.”

You finally figure out how to say no and not apologize.  You say yes to the things that are meaningful. I’m telling you, your face may disappoint you with its facial lines and its sagging skin but you will be gutsier in your 40s than you have ever been in your life and I believe the trade-off is worth it.

You let.crap.go. You have too many carpool lines to drive in to worry about what someone thinks of your life decisions. Bless your 30s heart. You are so much more comfortable in your wrinkled skin in your 40s. Thank you, Jesus!

In this stage of life everything is going at warp speed and there is a constant temptation to look back and wish that you had done more. Saved more. Said more. Been more.

You start to wonder when was the last time you actually washed your daughters hair or carried your son to bed? You’ll feel like a jerk because you can’t remember. You feel bad you haven’t journaled enough or scrapbooked since 2002. But who has time to scrapbook when you are in the carpool line 33% of your time?

Right now in your 30s you are strictly in survival mode. In your 40s you wake back up from that survival slumber and you take your life back.

And you start thinking that 50 doesn’t look that old at all.

I’m going to tell you your little girls will suddenly start acting just.like.you.

And your sons start to smell like your husband. Every day there is more facial hair, armpit hair and oh my gosh how are they wearing size 12 shoes? This is the most precious precious precious stage with them yet. And yet I miss the stage you are in too.

And the more you try to keep these kids little, the bigger they get. And I promise you with everything in me, if you think they are growing fast in the toddler stage, this teen stage way outdoes that.

In your 40s you start getting a whole new perspective of how little you know and how much you jacked up earlier in life. You start getting this incredible understanding of how God’s grace is enough to cover all of your mess ups.

And it forever will humble you to know your kids are going to turn out amazing, despite yourself.

Yes, your 30s are hard. You are exhausted 110% of the time.

And your 40s are hard, too. But they are a rewarding hard. They are a sweet hard. They are a different hard. 

And you’re going to love them.

The 40s are hard. But they rock.

Incontinence, wrinkles, capris and all.

Come on in. The water’s just fine.

Best,

Jennifer

This post originally appeared on themagicbrushinc.com.

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About the author

Jennifer Allwood

Bio: Jennifer Allwood is an online influencer who teaches women to create a beautiful home and build a creative business. She has 400K social media followers watching her decorate, run a biz and live out her faith.

Facebook – @JenniferAllwood or  www.facebook.com/TheMagicBrushInc

Instagram – @JenniferAllwood or www.Instagram.com/JenniferAllwood

Pinterest – @JenAllwood or www.Pinterest.com/JenAllwood

 

25 Comments

  • I think I’ll write you a letter as someone in the next stage – a woman in the next decade of life. The kids are grown, and gone and you thought you’d have a care-free existence and time to yourself. Your children are harder now than you ever imagined and you crave the days when their problems could be solved with a kiss on their knee, $20 for a movie or “because I said so” to keep them safe. Now you worry about different, more complex things – can they afford to support themselves, do they have health insurance, where they are when you don’t hear from them in a few days. You worry more, even though you’re so incredibly proud, when your son enlists in the Air Force and you can’t believe the man you “tap out” at his basic graduation is the same little tow headed kid who you once read “Thomas the Tank Engine” stories to at bedtime. Your house is clean, but silent. There are no more sibling wars to mediate. You talk to your dogs as though they will reply (face it, you always did this). You have lots of time for all those Pinterest projects you’ve been saving, lol. Your friends change and if you move to a strange place you find you don’t fit in to a lot of those groups any longer, so forming new friendships is harder. The next stage is hard. The next stage reminds you that you have more road behind you than ahead. BUT, even though it’s hard you’ve got time to reconnect with your husband, to have more couple time (so honestly, choose your best friend because it really does help if you like them as well as love them) and new adventures! It’s easier to spontaneously go off and do things – wine tastings, shopping or a drive just to drive. I highly suggest the latter, take time to reconnect with yourself. Remember who YOU are without the label of wife, daughter, mother, etc, remember YOU. Reignite the passion for a loved hobby or sport that took a back seat because of other commitments. Make new friends. Yes, it’s harder because you don’t fit into those set groups anymore – we go from single, to a couple, to a couple with a child, a family – and each of those groups present us with ways to meet new people. It’s harder when you don’t fit into any of those groups, most people seem to have their “friends” in order before their 50’s, but take time to make a new friend of two in this stage as well. Write letters, actual letters to your family and friends – they make an impact. Trust me. I’ve rattled on enough – you’ve got this! – Kate

    • This is so true. Add to it a partner who has a crippling disease (BTW this part is not recommended) and you start appreciating each and every day with them. Jennifer, you will do fine. Don’t sweat the small stuff and just enjoy your ride in life!

    • I read this with interest. I have gone through the changes that take place as a woman ages. I did not have children and to be honest when I’m at work and her a child screaming I think to myself is there anything more stupid than a woman? Bearing children was just too deep for me to go after all the care giving that I did. Sorry about being brutally honest. Two things that were not mentioned which I was caught up in one is women who raise children while working forty hour weeks and women who care give their parents which I did for years some while raising a family. This appears to be speaking to women who have the freedom to raise their young without working or care giving, talk about busy. I think my own mother was calmer because she simply was not doing all this running around. Little league, dance, basketball, carpools, play dates blah, blah, blah. She was there for her children but I never felt that her entire life revolved around me although I’m sure it did and greatly appreciate what a great mom she was.

    • Amen, I have one living in his car right now (I’m taking care of his baby), one studying abroad in Italy and one that just went through a very bad divorce where I was taking care of their baby through that) I am disabled my husband just had brain surgery I’ve went through some major life things all my baby’s were premature were in nic u for a month one only ad a 1 in a million chance (the one in Italy,which brings a little more worry to him being in another country) he will still need a kidney transplant at some point. My oldest is a security guard at a hospital and has been the target of gun fire,with older age comes bigger life, once a mom always a mom. Someone farther down in her 20″s said people think their stage is always harder the point is that older is wiser because we have lived and been there and we can say we were dumb made mistakes and thought at the time it was the hardest but after going through every stage of being a mom by far being a mom to adult children is hardest they have to live and learn and we can not fix kiss or guide I the way we could when they were under our care. I’m blessed my kids come to me my one that lives in his car is doing it because he needs to be responsible for himself so he is going to fight through his struggles but its not easy on the mom heart.

  • Everything you said in this article is so me, except I really did end up pregnant at 43. So now I’m 47 with a teen, a pre-teen & a pre-schooler. But I’m so less stressed with my little one now than I was in my 30s with the first two. I let a lot go, and don’t worry so much, but I do hate the wrinkles & capris that I really do have to wear. It does bother me sometimes that every mother in my my youngest’s peer group is at least a decade younger than me. But other times I feel so fortunate that I’m the one giving advice instead of needing it. And my girlfriends are my lifeline! Thanks for this article, it’s good to know that others can relate.

    • Same boat – 49 now with a college freshman, two high schoolers and a 1st grader. I’ll be working forever! I have my “old mom” friends and my “young mom” friends. LOL

      • At least we’re not alone- I will be 50 this year and currently have a four year old. Had her a month before my 45th bday. And have an almost 13 yr old. It’s crazy, but it’s also awesome. Although, I am freaking out a bit about going to kindergarten over a year from now at almost age 51 – yikes!

    • Similar story, except I had my first at 40, my second at 41, and my third (a wonderful surprise) at 43. So I am 51 with a second grader and one about to go to middle school. I’m exhausted, but I can’t compare it to motherhood in my 20s or 30s because I was never there! Each decade brings it’s own struggles and joys I suppose. And I wouldn’t trade my life for the world.

  • Wow! Excellent!! You’ve captured the chaotic speeding train. Prepare yourselves for the silence the next stage will bring, because it can be deafening. Get to know yourself and whoever shares your pillow. If you’re very lucky, the New Reality (that’s what it’s called, so get used to it, lol) can be wonderful

  • Hi Jennifer!

    I want to preface my comment by saying that I didn’t read past “I will tell you that THIS STAGE of life is hard too. It’s just a different hard. It’s a scary hard.” And I mean no disrespect and share my feedback with all the love in the universe. I want to share they WHY behind my pausing because you are clearly a talent and I’m about to hop over and join your social accounts. I like you.

    I paused because in felt a bit patronizing if I’m honest. Last year, I was in tears over my daughter’s colic, knee deep in postpartum depression and literally losing my mind. The 40 somethings woman I was confiding in responded with “oh honey, just you wait…” She truly thought she was encouraging me. Really, with all of her heart, she did. I wasn’t mad. But would it have been so hard to just listen, hug me and walk me through the current emotions?

    I want to hear about my future. I NEED to hear about it and learn from warrior mommas that have been there and done that. But not in response to my current emotions. Responding to someone’s emotions with your own hardship is diminishing. You see?

    Here is where I was getting it wrong: I’m a wedding planner and when I first had babies, I remember dismissing the feelings of my brides as they were frantic over where the cake table would go. Because you know, there are bigger things in life. BUT… but…. they don’t know that yet and my dismissing their current feelings was so so soooo unfair. It was the colic conversation that made me realize that.

    I’m sure that the rest of your note was beautiful and meant for life giving encouragement BUT… but…. I can’t receive it that way because I’m halted by being one upped on my way into the encouragement.

    I just want to share the feelings that younger moms have when spoken to this way because like I said, you mom warriors have so much to give and teach and we need you. I just need to be allowed to process my current emotions, too. A love letter from an older mom would be so welcomed by me. One that tells me I’m not screwing up the kids. That I’m not going to poison them if they have one KidsCuisine or Happy Meal. That tells me how to love my husband through my frizzy hair and one that tells me it’s okay if I forgot to brush my teeth because they won’t all fall out. It would simply say “I see you, I remember, you are loved.”

    And the ironic thing about your letter…. the author of the AMB blog has actually already written a sequel to her post titled “THAT stage of life… it’s going to be hard, too.” I don’t know if she will publish it. I just wonder if maybe when you were our age, you ever felt these things even though you knew that older kids would still be hard, just different hard. We know… we get it. But that wasn’t the conversation.

    With loads of love and reminders from your early momma days,
    Amber Anderson

  • And unless you’ve gone completely off the rails, your husband still finds you super attractive and wants to **** your brains out. So let him!

    …please

  • This is golden and so true! From a 44 year old mother of a 25 year old son, soon to be 14 year old son and 11 year old daughter.

  • Beautiful. I’m in this stage of parenting, and 40 is right on the horizon. My 12-year-old son shows me his armpit hair all.the.time. “It’s getting long, Mom. And it’s curly like an Arby’s french fry.” Glad you got my descriptive word prowess, kid. This stage is so vastly DIFFERENT that the one preceding. And you’re right, it’s insanely busy but so, so, so precious. And I’m award that it’s fleeting. And I’m feeling the pressure to squeeze in memories and vacations because, hello … WE’VE GOT SIX YEARS LEFT WITH THE OLDEST AND THAT IS NOT ENOUGH TIME TO SHAPE HIS CHILDHOOD MEMORIES! Every day, I look at the kids and wonder how they became PEOPLE. At any rate, thank you for your words … I’m right there with ya.

  • Your article is pretty spot-on. I will be 50 this year and am struggling with it. By the way, I have a four year old… And an almost 13 year old (both girls). You’d think the age gap would somehow prevent bickering (I mean, wth do they have to fight about?! Everything it seems.). Freaking out that when my youngest goes to kindergarten over a year from now, I will be almost 51- and easily the age of some of the mom’s moms- ugh! Keep trying to convince myself that I should get into great shape to show off when I’m 50, but yet I keep eating out of anxiety and sitting on couch late at night when I get my ONLY alone time! My 13 (almost) year old keeps us sooo busy – so many activities- but she thrives and excels at all of them AND school, so why should we take any away?! So very proud of her. Youngest will probably start soccer in the fall- can’t even imagine having two kids in activities at same time (I know, everyone does it, but just one is crazy time!). I don’t know whether I’m coming or going most of the time! Tired most of the time and crabby a good part of it as well. BUT- at the same time – I love it all. My kids don’t think I’m fat (even though I am overweight), they don’t care that the house is not spotless (and probably never will be), Or that I haven’t saved the world yet- the four year old loves me unconditionally for now and the 13 yr old- sort of does lol. We have a good life and i wouldn’t change it – even the surprise baby a month before my 45th birthday. We’ll never retire but, oh well. Trying to enjoy it while it lasts!

  • Everyone thinks their stage of life is the hardest. They’re all hard! I’m in my mid 20s and trust me it’s not easy either. I’m sure everyone will roll their eyes reading that because “your 20s are great” but honestly I can’t wait to be 30! I can’t wait to have kids and a stable job and my path somewhat figured out.
    But that’s not even the point. The point is, life is hard. At every stage, every age, life is hard! There’s no use competing for who has it worse. It’s much more productive if we are all just kind and support each other. It’s not a competition! We are all trying our best and it’s all going to be ookay.

  • You are spot on with this piece! I laughed, I shook my head yes and quietly sniffed in the tears as line after line resonated with me. As the mother of soon-to-be 13 year old twins, this evolution of motherhood has had many chapters. I feel like I’m in a whole new book now! And as to the changes that are happening with my body—completely without my consent—while that is at times a hard pill to swallow, I just give thanks that I am even here to live through them. Any day with my family and friends is a blessed one and the honor of being these Irish Babes’ Mother is the Ultimate Gift. Thank you for your candidness and brilliant sense of humor! Looking forward to reading more!
    Cheers,
    Los O’Gradys in Mexico

  • My forties were actually my favourite years! In fact, I looked so forward to turning 40, I threw myself a party!

    • Whew, thought I was the only one! My body is SO much finer at 43 than at 33! I do shop at Forever 21! I get the point of this post, which some of it I agree with. I don’t really have girlfriends, I do get very emotional thinking about my now 11 year old growing up, my son will be 21 next month!

  • Maybe you should live on a farm . . . I don’t feel any of these things and I actually have muscle tone at 49 . . .and still wear yoga pants . . .or stretchies . . .Have a kid going to college and one that is 9 . .Don’t really care about all this . . . because my hubby still thinks I am hot . .LOL!