I used to think that when you were 40, you were an adult. You were old, you knew what to do. And now that I’m over 40, I realize that there are no adults. The kids who played with their cabbage patch kids are now in charge of other human beings, that’s the way it is and that’s the way it has always been. A cycle of kids getting old enough to have kids of their own, but noone is really an adult in the sense that a door is opened in the recesses of yourself and you have the answers all of the sudden.
I used to think that when you were married to your One True Love – the person that you have never doubted that you should be with – it would all be okay, you’d be happy together. I mean, this is the person for whom “how will I know?” never applied because unlike other dates or people, it was always clear with this One. I never imagined how hurtful marriage can be, how complicated it can be, how you can love someone and still want to leave them.
I used to think that if you had the number of children that you desired, if you had the wherewithal to raise them yourself and not put them in daycare or be separated with them, it would be hunky dory. I thought I’d be the Mary Poppins-esque Mama, all singing and dancing through cleanup time, never dreaming that I’d turn into a screaming banshee. Even though there is noone in the world that I want to love and understand more than I do with my children, even though there is noone in the world that I would rather be good to, a single moment has the power to strip me of everything but the need for the floor to be clean NOW, for them to listen and do as I say THIS MINUTE.
I used to think that when I had accepted myself and my disabilities, life would start shining. I thought that once I was okay – truly on good terms with – being deaf and all other quirks, things would even out. But what I’ve learned is that disability can be like pentimento: you have one layer that fades and reveals another layer that was created earlier. There can be more than one picture, it’s not always simple , nor is it cut-and-dried.
I used to think if I had the education, the power of imagination and the tools to actually produce what I want to make, I could. It never occurred to me that I could be well educated with an arsenal of dreams and projects that I would want to fly with and have the tools to make them all, and yet not be able to because of the demands of my children and the parameters of rural country living. Feeling stifled as the bi-product of a life that I chose was not something I even remotely imagined could happen.
So I’m over 40 years old. I feel like I’m floundering. Nothing is the way that I thought it would be, it’s all one unexpected maze with sharper twists and turns. I want this to end on a positive note, something about looking up, about rainbows in the rain. I know all of that is true, that rainbows come with rain, that colours come out sharper and clearer with the wet, that we can jump through and over puddles… I know that this is what I make of it, all my life is what I make of it, if this is going to swoop into something delicious from this flounderment… or what.
Is that what a mid-life crisis is all about?
If I was a guy, would this be when I grow a pony tail and buy a tiny little red car?
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