When I was in my 20’s I looked at 50-year old women and sort of pitied them in a nice way. They seemed busy. Overwhelmed.
I overheard conversations of 50-year old women. They were tied up in the lives of their teens and adult children. Their problems seemed sharp and searing.
I valued my freedom as a young adult; I loved being able to have fun and go wherever I wanted to go with whomever.
Fifty year old women seemed so stuck.
In my mid 30’s something happened that shifted my thoughts about women in their 50’s.
That “something” was Oprah Winfrey.
She had just turned 50 and she declared it to be the Promised Land.
My ears perked up. Oprah was delighted to be in her 50’s. She said it was where she showed up most fully HERSELF.
She loved the freedom she felt as a 50-year old woman. Now, I didn’t quite get that, but I loved her joy and she was probably the first person who got me excited to get older.
Well, I am older. It is Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, and I am 53 years old today.
In honor of me, I decided to take some reflection time. I booked a private conference room at our downtown library in Wichita, brewed some of my favorite decaf coffee, grabbed a couple Paleo pumpkin cookies (better than they sound!) and headed downtown to spend some time thinking about Being 53.
I love to write because it helps me solidify my thoughts. It helps me walk more purposefully. It helps me become who I really want to be.
What I Love About Being in my 50’s:
I know who I am. I am so grateful for the deep conversion I experienced several years ago; I wrote about it in this post: My New Conversion.
I now understand that all Christians have something incredibly special and life-giving. We get to share in the Divine Life of Christ. We ARE beloved sons and daughters. We are IN de HOUSE. Now.
Since I don’t have to WORK for something I already have, my joy factor has increased exponentially. I am now one of those Catholics that wants to raise her hands during Mass and freak everyone out. I love how I feel in my skin. He has set me free from all of the fierce feelings of striving, striving, striving.
I want everyone to know who they are, too. And good gracious, you don’t have to wait until you’re 50! And if you are miles past the 50 marker, you still have time! Discover who you really are IN HIM!
Next, I love my relationship with my husband.
Not because we are so perfect together but because we are so imperfect TOGETHER. We met when I was 18. We married when I was 21. We had years of ups and downs and sideways. Like any marriage, right? But no matter what, we weathered everything together.
I also love my man because after three decades of being “together together,” he knows exactly how to butter my biscuit. Seriously. He KNOWS me. That is something we have EARNED through conversation and intimate sharing. It is ours and I love love love that sacred aspect of a long-term marriage. (To think of being in a relationship with a new someone at this stage makes me chuckle. To get used to another’s ups, downs and sideways? To reveal mine? No.thank.you.)
Likewise, I love how I have evolved in my relationship and understanding of my children.
See, when I first became a mama I thought my children were reflections of My Parenting Skills.
If they showed up in the world as knowledgeable, kind, responsible and witty, then surely I, their primary caregiver, had Done All Things Well.
I WANTED them to get straight A’s, feed the poor, make the best sports team and be able to spout Scripture like a water fountain.
I wanted them to be the best. The fastest. The tallest. The most.
What a crock of crap. That was my pride hustling for the approval of those in my circle.
What I now know to be true: I am important. Because I am their mother. What I say DOES have a huge impact on their lives. I need to invest. I need to show up. I need to see and smile and give and cherish and delight in.
But because my kids are human, they will sin. They will say stupid things. They will make mistakes. Often.
Their Good Choices AND their Bad Choices are part of their story, their journey. How I react to those choices is part of my story, my journey.
Even though I love love love them and would die for them, their GOOD BEHAVIOR doesn’t make me a better mom. Their BAD BEHAVIOR doesn’t make me a worse mom.
That’s an understanding that has come from years and years of mothering. And it has not come easily. And I sometimes find myself wanting to steer their boat. But I am getting old enough to step back and remind myself, "Lori, you have your journey. Let.them.be.on.theirs."
Note: I find that I do have to give myself permission to do extremely good self-care when I am going through something with a child. Read more about how to do that from this popular post: Your Child Deserves the Best Version of You.
Finally, I love the CONFIDENCE that comes with 50.
When I was in my 20's I wasn't sure of my gifts or talents. I worried about other people's opinions of me. I wasn't sure how to navigate around hard personalities. I wasn't sure what to do with toxic people.
Being 50 means having the confidence to recognize the gifts freely given. As a writer, it can be easy to fall into the trap of being worried about all of the negative voices out there. What if I offend? Guess what? The only voices that truly matter to me are the ones that are on my Sticky Note. Yep. I have my core people written on a sticky note. Their voices matter to me because they love me and value me.
Brene Brown has famously said, "If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked, then I'm not interested in your feedback." Meaning, if you are in the cheap seats, taking cheap shots at me, that's on you, not me. At 50, I have the confidence to live by that.
I also love that I can finally navigate around hard personalities as well as toxic people. (I had the most difficult time trying to figure that one out. I kept letting toxic people "in" and it wasn't healthy.) Everyone is on their journey. I have learned how to be kind without being sucked into high drama of truly unhealthy people (the ones that would literally invite themselves into my home and not leave). Read more about that with this post: My Victorian House.
AND because I have boundaries now, I can freely walk alongside the people that God brings into my life because of my work. What do I mean by that? Well, we get great emails from some amazing people. Yes, because my son and I work with porn prevention, the emails are usually dealing with a worried mom and her addicted daughter or son, but I know how to help them. I have confidence in my Life Mission.
Walking with those people is tremendously special; because I know who I am and I am confident in my skills and my abilities, that experience is life-giving instead of soul-sucking. Those people that reach out do share their heart and soul with us. And because Eric and I are at a healthy place, we can guide, direct and engage on all levels.
That's what Being 50 has given to me.
I also get that the days ahead of me are numbered. That makes every day feel more like a treasure, which helps me keep growing and learning and opening myself to all of the depth, wonder, beauty and crazy of life.
That knowledge, that the shadows are growing longer, pushes me. I know that I have something to give to this world and I gotta give it while I still remember it.
If you are in your 20’s and you are thinking, like I did, that you love your freedom, let me just say that you haven’t seen the best of it yet.
Oprah was right. The 50’s are where we can show up and become more fully ourselves. That's freedom.