Just Occurred…What Frustrates Me About ‘Middle Age’

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I have been widowed since 2002.  I was in my late forties when my husband passed away and the stress from the long illness, fear of watching him die (he had requested that he go from my arms to God’s), pressure from his family who I never really understood (nor they me), and overall sadness of losing one of the nicest people I had ever met – all while working a job with lots of responsibility and not much support, all threatened to take its toll on my health and appearance.  Not long after my husband passed (I couldn’t make it to the hospital before his transition), I went to California to pick up our sixteen year old son (from my husband’s first marriage) to bring him back, at my husband’s deathbed request.   He was to finish high school here and decide what he wanted to do after graduation.  I also redecorated our home to brighten it and remove all reminders of the sick room our living room had become during my husband’s last days along with any vestiges of cigarette smoke from the walls, carpets, curtains and furniture.

As soon as I got the house just right, the owner offered it to me for sale, but as a single woman with a teenage son, I had no desire to own a very large, older house, even though it was beautiful and the neighbors knew us well.  So instead, I moved downtown where I had spent nearly twenty of my adult years.  My son and I moved to a remodeled loft where he had his side and I had mine.  We met in the middle where the living room and kitchen were located.  Life was good and things were beginning to appear normal.

I felt liberated, light and ready to do all of the things I never allowed myself to do during most of my adult life.  I had no idea that I was middle aged and no longer a hot commodity on the dating market.  Actually, I didn’t have any problems attracting suitors, even much younger suitors.  I just wasn’t interested in dating, all I wanted was to finish my graduate degree that I had put on hold, see my son graduate from high school and figure out how I wanted to spend the last thirty years of my life.

Well the first of those ten years zoomed by like a flash of light.  I turned fifty and went to Jamaica for a blazing celebration with my sisters and close friend.  My mom aged in front of my eyes and passed away in 2008.  My son flipped out and got into trouble with the law, graduated from high school, got a job, married his sweetheart and had a son.  I was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and gained thirty pounds.  I completed all my graduate degree requirements (though my degree was held hostage for unpaid tuition (that’s the subject of another blog post so look out for it).  I opened a consulting firm and moved in with one of my sisters who lost her husband.

Next thing I know, I’m fifty-five, single, over weight, diabetic, and living in a world that had changed drastically while I was busy doing everything except tuning into the world around me.  Young men were on the prowl for older cougars while men my age had their pick of young, uneducated, under employed women/girls who looked like well-fed barbie dolls with hair and nails for days.  For a year or two I was so flattered that these young men were interested, I believed it had something to do with my good looks.  Soon I came to realize that while I was no slouch, I could not compete with a 20 year old with nothing but time on her hands.  I also realized that the young men were leaving the young women their age in droves for the cougars because they were looking for the mothers they never had.

Seems the hip hop generation from inner-city Detroit were, too often, parented by single teen mothers who all but left their sons to fend for themselves.  These guys were attracted more to my maternal instincts than to my sensual allure.   Didn’t really matter, about the young guys, since I have never been attracted to younger men.  I always sensed that if there is going to be a ‘young and tender’ in a relationship, it should be the woman.  In addition, my more serious relationships had been with men who created their life’s work after we got together and I was seriously done with that scene.  I joined an online dating site with the explicit request for a retiree with a country home and preferably a boat.

With so much going on with three moves, finishing my degree, changing jobs, losing my mother and brother-in-law (and my best friend’s parents), and, let’s not forget, menopause, I can finally see middle age staring back at me every time I pass a mirror.  I also see it on the faces of men my age when they meet me and begin to sum up the possibility of hooking up.  They give me the once over, think, “not bad- but won’t look as good as Shaniqua will in ten years.”

So, I say all this to say, it Just Occurred to me that, I might enjoy middle age if there weren’t so many young women willing to spend time with men thirty or forty years their senior simply because there are no men in their age group who are not incarcerated, unemployed, playing video games, gang-banging and looking for me.

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18 responses »

  1. This is such an interesting way of communicating all sorts of thoughts and events…It gives everyone an opportunity to excel and truly send what they think, want and need out into the universe to put the vibrations in an active mode!!

    I hear tell that writer’s get a writers block and they cannot proceed, or they need something to have their muse visit. This is an excellent way, so I look forward to wonderful short stories, novella’s and even novels from you! I will check in daily to see the progress and even chime in an opinion or two when the content directs me!

    Good Luck!

  2. This sounds like a real strong case of “Can’t live with em’, can’ live with out em’!”…for all of those reasons you so elequently expressed. Wonder how much the set of circumstances vary in the scheme of things relating to middle age woman and available preferred men in other states?

  3. Carlene, I think you said something. Regarding statistics and demographics, I think location is very important as is socio economic status and level of education of both the men and women concerned. But, from my research and observations Viagra and the other indicators I mentioned here have an impact on the dynamics of 21st century relationships throughout American culture.

  4. I have noticed that the more I search for a relationship with me, the smoother my days go, and the more fulfilled I become. However, it seems to me that the picking for interpersonal relationships works very much like other desires we go after. There cannot be fence sitting during our meditations; your heart of hearts must me aligned to the idea of sharing time, space, energy, space, compromise of priorities, space, thoughts, space, considerations of the “other” person when making decisions, space, money, and once again did I mention space? At the age of fifty six I am more in to spending quality time with another that maintains their own space, and plans to continually do so! Companionship is good and yes, I agree with Carlene, maybe in another place for us middle aged “been there, done that” women. Maybe, in a warmer place where men and women are comfortable in the slightly wrinkling skin their in!

    • Yes, Claudia, I get your point! Very well put. And, please don’t get me wrong, I’m very comfortable in the skin I’m in…just noticing how the changes creep up while I’m busy doing other things and my perception does not always keep pace with the aging process. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  5. I was surprised at your final statements because they minimized what you had so elegantly described in the preceding paragraphs. The commitment and humbleness you have shown to the ‘real’ aspects of a well lived life may not be all that ‘sexy’ in a chat or conversation with a suitor, but you should know that very few young tenders would step up like you have as a mature woman. Don’t be alarmed that younger men are on your case either. If that’s not for you, then so be it. But you should recognize your accomplishments are deep. That’s better than sexy, that’s gangsta! Or, more appropriately, that’s showing courage and responsibility! Now to the other revelation you implied in your closing, the imbalance of available younger men for younger women. It is becoming a social tragedy because unlike in wartime, the examples you gave are generally men trying (or not) to gain their financial footing and are not prepared to establish the type of responsible behavior that builds communities.

    • David: Thank you SO much for stopping by and especially for your insightful (not to mention flattering) comments. I love hearing from men on subjects of male/female relationships because when you are honest it offers a perspective we don’t see often enough, ergo, Steve Harvey’s popularity. 🙂 You know, I failed to consider the economic realities that contribute to the plight of our young men -in this post anyway. So, thank you for that important insight, as well. I look forward to your future input.

    • There is a social tragedy at hand, and it may very well be, what we depend on all to often these days, and that is the information highway! During the time in which the art of courting meant awaiting that special call, or anticipating seeing someone in person, younger men as well as older men, found women in their age, educational, economical range, within the city they both resided. The gratification was never immediate, it took more the picture message for a man to see a woman in her undies. Of course we always had May, December relationships, and during the Korean War, we had young women marrying instead of receiving a B.A., they were trained to get their Mrs.
      With information being transmitted; images, songs, voice messages, text messages, sexting messages, telephone numbers, names, email addresses (never physical addresses) and stored with a push of a button, we allow ourselves young, middle aged, male or female choices that we never had before. Thus, removing the quality out of the pursuit and replacing it with empty options. How boring and uneventful could that be? All the while we are progressing with the ability to receive information faster, we have digressed in maintaining in person and tangible relationships that have people, places, music and yes romance in common…so, it just occurred to me, that men trying ( or not) to get an economical footing to establish the much needed communities, got a pass, when progress showed up and removed a basic human tendency to develop relationships, emotions!

      • Claudia: Thanks for stopping by. Your comments are right on point and I hadn’t considered them, especially the reality that relationships mean something much different than they once meant. Reminds me of things changed from meeting a suitor in the parlor, chaperoned by a parent to going to proms with a date to today when we meet online, as you mentioned and go to proms alone or with a group of same-sex friends. Sign of the times, for sure.

  6. WHOA! With all of that being said you should be glad you DO NOT have to do it all over again…… Respect to all my elders. We all go through it…..

  7. First let me say that that I totally agree with David’s comment. Secondly let me say that some women are often times use to multiple struggles, jumping over obstacles and handling unforseen crisis and health issues before they reach middle age. I believe those challenges sometimes become second nature and as women we don’t stop to think about or analyze our personal self worth in the scheme of things. Kudos to David for those acclamations. My challenges may have been a total different set of circumstances than yours, but believe you me I can definately relate now that I am middle age and without a male companion. I say let’s continue to know our self worth not needing anyone to sanction that for us and last but not least let’s …..KEEP HOPE ALIVE! 🙂

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