Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
So as you know, this month I’ve been thinking a lot about aging. Part of the reason that this has been on my mind is that I did discover that I have that familial connection to dementia. Also because I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother’s last years.
My mom didn’t do anything. It was interesting. She didn’t want to do anything. I remember she used to enjoy knitting. She used to enjoy going out with her friends. She used to really enjoy sewing. And then she stopped. She stopped doing all of those things. I remember at one point, I said, “Hey, mom. Would you like to get back into knitting?”
And she was like, “No. I’m on a limited income. I don’t want to do that.”
I went to Amazon, and I got her the knitting needles. I got her that yarn. I got her everything, and I sent it to her. The next time I call her, I say, “Hey! Have you been enjoying getting back into knitting? I know how much you used to like it.”
My mom had given everything away. But I didn’t get upset because I thought, well, you know this is not a big deal. She’s just going through a phase. I’m going to get her some material for her sewing machine so she can do all of these things she loves. She can sew little dresses for her granddaughters. She used to really enjoy doing that, and she gave that away too.
I said to her, “Mom… This isn’t you.”
She was like, “I’m bored. I just… I’m bored.”
I said, “Well, then do something. Right?”
My mom used to really enjoy going to Las Vegas. I said, “I’ll give you some money so you can go on the trips with the rest of the people in your complex.”
Guess what? My mom didn’t want to go. Then more recently, I talked to one of my favorite aunts, and she’s going through the same thing. And I was like, “What is going on?!”
Auntie says to me, “Well… There’s nothing to do.”
I realized after my aunt said that it’s not that there’s nothing to do; it’s just that they don’t want to do anything. Because in the community I lived in the Caribbean, there’s a lot of ladies that were my mother’s age when she was going through this phase, my aunt’s age, and the ladies are so active! They’re golfing. They are quilting, playing cards, doing book clubs. Just an enormous amount of things, having a good time! And that’s what I call successful aging. You are done with the stage of your life where you need to work, you need to take care of others, and you can go out there and enjoy what’s left of your life. That’s what I want for me.
The kids are at a funky age right now that they’re fourteen. At least three of them because, for the most part, they need me less and less. On the other hand, they still need me to drive them around, and they need me available when they have their crises. Because, teenage years, there’s a lot of crises on learning.
In the meantime, I’m left with more time. And in the beginning, I was frustrated because it wasn’t like a lot of time, and like I’ve said many times, I have a very structured mind, and I want to have these allotments of time, but it’s not the way that it is. I’ve decided enough with that nonsense. I’m not going to have these chunks of time when I’m doing nothing waiting for bigger chunks of time.
So, successful aging, step one for me: make some changes in my life. I keep saying this, and then I don’t do it. I really need to lose some weight because of health reasons. I gained the weight because of my knees injuries. The accident that I had where I just totally messed up the meniscus on both knees, had to have surgery, developed post-traumatic arthritis. And of course, I’m not as active, so I put on the weight but ironically, that’s bad for the knees. So, it’s like this, frustrating, vicious cycle. But, I finally found a therapy that works for me, that allows me to walk and drive a lot more. So I’m super excited, so I’m going to start my walking routine, and I’m going to try intermittent fasting. So, for now, I’m going to be eating between noon and six. That’s step number one. And then I’m going to start easing myself into the Mediterranean diet.
But really, I think the biggest issue here is to enjoy my age without fear of the future. Right? So, know that I have to work to make myself healthier but without fearing the future. And part of that, believe it or not, is I am determined that in 2022, I will be spending the first six months out of the year in the Caribbean. I’m going to learn to swim. Finally! You guys have to help me stay honest on this one and asked me once in a while, where are you with this? Because accountability is very important! So, that is a big thing.
You know, I just recently realized that I’m in the middle of my middle age. I’m turned 55 this year, and middle age is supposed to be between 45 and 64. So, I go to enjoy these years before I hit late adulthood—65 and over. Not that that means anything if you continue to stay active, but we all know that it seems like suddenly you just hit this point where you really age. I saw it with my parents. I see it with my aunts and my uncles. And for our family, it seems to be in the late 60s, early 70s where we really just see that change.
As I said, I am preparing for some of the potential challenges because of my family’s predispositions to dementia. I am looking into treatments. I am looking into long-term care. But that’s not the main focus of my middle years.
The main focus of my middle years is to continue to have a purpose in my life. Yes, I want to read more. Yes, I want to spoil my children even more than I already do. And I don’t really think we should call it to spoil. Overlove. I just want to really love them. I also want to find a way to contribute to my community. I always wanted to volunteer more for children’s organizations. And recently, I’ve been thinking about starting a nonprofit organization for the performing arts on the island where we live in the Caribbean.
I want to stay social. And that’s a real challenge for me because I’m an introvert, like I have no problems talking to you. I mean, come on. It’s just one on one. But it’s different when I’m in big groups, and my husband and I have found a way to work that out. It’s been very successful this year, which is smaller groups. I seem to be comfortable in groups of up to twenty people if I know most of them. But I prefer smaller groups and I prefer to know three-fourths of the people in the group. So, that seems to be an easier way for me to meet new people.
And once I meet people, I’m more comfortable having one on one interactions with them. The other thing is, I’m not trying to be friends with everybody. I mean, it’s not people’s fault that I don’t like them as much as I should. It really isn’t. But the reality is that in the last five years, because my kids were younger, I really tried to like and enjoy people who had nothing in common with me, who ran in very different social circles, and frankly, it was incredibly stressful. It was not enjoyable at all, and I didn’t really make any true friendships. All I got was a lot of criticism.
I like low-key people. You know, uncomplicated people. Bookies! I enjoy people who love books. I enjoy people who have different interests. I enjoy people who have no problems when I disagree with them, and I love people that love to disagree with me. So, people with whom I can have interesting conversations or enjoy a low-key moment. I meant, the other day, two ladies and I were making jewelry. It was the first time I made jewelry. Ever! I don’t know that I did a great job because I’m having a really tough time learning how to do the surgical knot. But you know it was low-key. It was relaxing. I like that! I don’t care if people think it’s boring.
I’m also embracing my chronological age by enjoying every day. I’ve noticed that this age is interesting because women will either panic and refuse to age or go with the old lady outfits. And I’m sorry, I may be 55, but I refuse to dress like an old lady. I like wearing funky t-shirts. I like wearing sexy outfits. I like wearing makeup. I do! And I have periods in which I like wearing more makeup than others, and there are times when I don’t like wearing it at all. And I am super excited to come back in January to the Caribbean because I really enjoy golf. I really enjoy playing golf with my crazy husband.
I’m giving myself permission to be me. I’m going to stop apologizing for the fact that I am who I am. I’m done with that. I’m 55 this year. I think I’ve earned the right to be whoever I am, and people that are not okay with that are welcome not to be part of my life. I’m totally cool with that. I’ve worked too hard and been through too many challenges not to enjoy this point in life. Right?
And of course, in the back of my mind, given the predisposition to dementia, I really want to enjoy being independent and self-sufficient for as long as I can. I’m going to enjoy these years. And frankly, part of that means continuing to create beautiful memories with my children, with my dog. I love my dog! She’s hanging out over here. She’s pretending to be dead. Let me bring her up. Isn’t she adorable?! She’s the best dog ever! Ever! I found the perfect breed. It’s Shih Tzus! They are so mellow, so loving, and I love their little fur, and they hardly ever shed. And I just love, love, love, love, Muffin!
And I like to have more adventures. One of the big things that I plan on doing this September is to touch a crocodile. I have always wanted to feel a crocodile, go on an airboat ride in the Everglades, and I always postpone it because the kids need to be here, the kids need to be there, the kids want to do this, they want to do that, and let’s face it resources are finite. And I’m not talking just money. I’m talking time. But I’m going to start making some of my own adventures, and they will just have to come along for the ride. Right?
I want to travel more. Now, Covid does make that challenging at the moment, and I do understand that. I understand the inherent risks. So, traveling has to be somewhat limited, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do some travel. I mean, we definitely haven’t explored the state of Florida enough. We haven’t explored our Caribbean island enough. So, you know, it’s time to do some of that and have some time and have some fun! We purchased tickets to the Broadway series in Orlando, so I am super excited about dragging my kids to that theater! I’ve always really enjoyed it, and they enjoy it too, for the most part, although they’ve been exposed to it on a limited basis, primarily musical theater.
But I think one of the biggest things that I want to do in what’s left of my middle adulthood years is be present. And what I mean by that is, in previous years, the kids were young, and there was so much to do, and you’re running around, and you’re getting through every day just exhausted at the other end, that oftentimes you don’t take the time to breathe in and enjoy the moment. Do you know what I mean? Yes, you live the moment. Yes, you will participate. But you don’t take a moment to savor it. You don’t take the time to just fully embrace it. And I plan on doing that.
I think what I want most of all is to be like my grandmother Ava. My favorite grandma. My superhero grandma. She always enjoyed her life. She was always happy. She was always joyful. She loved every second of every day. She was just a fascinating woman. She lived life to the fullest. She never forgot how to enjoy life. I want to be like her. And I thought I couldn’t be like her because she was so extroverted. But that’s not the case. I’m never going to be an extrovert, but I can certainly learn from her. Learned that joy, that satisfaction of being in the moment. I wish I had let her know how much I loved her and how much she meant to me and what an impact she’s had on my life. And if she didn’t know in life, I hope she can hear me now. I love you so much, Abuelita. I really do and I miss you.
But, before this episode ends, we can not forget to thank our friends at Syrtenty! Their reusable pads allow you to live pain-free. When I’m recording, I put the TENS unit on with their little electro patches. I just love this stuff! It really makes a big difference in my life because I have stomach problems, and I can’t take any anti-inflammatories, so it’s really important for me to explore other options. And I have found this to be one of the best options! I hope you’ll give them a chance and check them out!
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