Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Dear 40-year-old Me
You are both older and younger than you think. Probably, you are about at the mid-point of your life. What do you want to do with the second half? Those babies won't tether you to the hearth forever, though I know it seems like that now. And the husband, while it seems he would never leave you, look a little closer. The moments of strain in your relationship now will gradually grow into days of disquiet. Later days and nights will meld together into a shadow that hangs over your household almost constantly. Already priorities are shifting. His are not yours. Yours are not his. You see it, the writing on the wall, don't pretend you can't read it.
Dear 40-year-old Me, you are dramatic (he would add a prefix.) You worry over what he thinks of as little things. You're still in hippie mode half the time and he's going corporate. It's not going to last even if you throw out those overalls in the back of your closet. And, no, he's not going to move out of L.A. Not to Minnesota. Not anywhere.
Your family is finished growing. You won't risk another pregnancy after the miscarriage. He doesn't bring it up and neither do you. Now is your chance. The children are in nursery school. Get a job. Take a class--just one, at least. Yes, your life will be a juggling act, but beg a friend to help you. Hire a full-time nanny--he'd go for that, but do something because he's going to leave you, and when you lose your marriage at the same moment your nest empties, you are going to fall into a million pieces. You are going to be smothered by depression, and the drinking won't help, but you'll think it does, so you'll drink a lot. You'll lose your home. Your dogs will die. You'll live alone for the first time in your life and then, dear 40-year-old self, you'll wish with all the aching bones in your body that you had a career, a job, a purpose, your own pension, fabulous health insurance, and people around you every day who love doing what you love doing.
Because otherwise you will sit staring at your computer for hours when you are almost 60, wondering if you should really should push the button that says, "submit application now." And if you push it, you'll wonder if the people who read the application at some university in a far off city will find you completely and utterly ridiculous.
Dear 40-year-old me, you knew this, but you were a master at "un-knowing," so I forgive you. Mostly. But you knew. You knew.