Finding Joy after 40

As we approach the middle of our lives, our mindset sort of changes. We start to think of things a little differently and start to think about things we really had never considered before. One of those things is our own mortality. When we are young, we think we will live forever. Oh, how life changes us.
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We begin to ponder more seriously whether heaven and hell really exist. We ponder our financial futures and if we will be able to retire, ever! We contemplate our spouse’s mortality and health becomes an issue. If we are in the dating realm, we contemplate if we will ever find our person, our soul mate.

Family is more important than anything still, but our family roles change as well. Children grow up and start to leave our nest. I will have two daughters in college this fall and I know already how just one leaving changes the dynamics of our family. I am having a hard time imagining life with two out of the house, but life continues to march on.
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Losing my mom last November, my world changed forever. No longer could I pick up the phone and talk to her about this or that. No longer could we go have our favorite salad at Applebee’s. Her life here was completed and my own was turned upside down. For anyone that has been through the loss of their mother or father, you understand.  That loss brings to mind our own mortality.  What would happen to our family if we died? Would our children be okay?  Would our spouse be okay?  Would he/she remarry? Am I ready if God calls me home?  Will I go to heaven or hell?  Will my family be okay financially?  So many questions.
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Then, once you start thinking about those things, you start thinking about what would happen if someone you love dies as well as what will happen when you lose your other parent.  It’s a place that you could easily lose yourself if you let yourself get sucked into that void.  Death is part of life.  We are all born and the only guarantee in life is that we will eventually die.  Morbid thought, isn’t it? But losing someone so important to your very being is losing a piece of yourself.  They live on in your heart, but no longer are they here in bodily form to touch and to have a conversation with.

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As we get to the middle years, even our style of parenting changes.  One of my mom’s best friends used to tell her that every time you have a child, that child comes at a different stage in your life.  You aren’t the same at 26 as you are at 37.  It makes sense then that your children will all be just a little different because you are a little different.  Sure, there’s the genetics and the birth order, but the other factor I see in my home is the kids have different parents because we are different than we used to be.  At 26, when my oldest was born, I was full of energy.  I had no aches or pains.  I saw the world differently than I did at 37 1/2 when I had my youngest child.  Because of this, my youngest child does get away with more than my oldest did at 9.  My oldest was also more responsible too.
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Financially, we start really focusing on the future and we are able to see that there may be a light at the end of the work tunnel.  Maybe we will be able to retire, someday, but will we have saved enough?  With kids in college and more than likely weddings sometime after that (I have 3 daughters), it’s hard to come to grips with the idea that I will have to work long after 62 if I’d really like to retire comfortably.

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I also find that although I love babies, I like other people’s babies.  I have no babies pulling on my apron strings anymore and no desire to have anymore children.  I have a dear friend who has only one, beautiful little boy.  She and her husband are considering adoption at the moment.  For them, I am ecstatic. I, on the other hand, want nothing to do with bringing more children into my own house.  Four is my limit and I’m always kicking the kids to play outside because they are loud and messy.  It’s not that I dislike my children, in fact, I love them with all my heart.  It’s just that I would like to keep the few things I have in my house safe from hockey in my living room or wrestling.  Someday I pray that I will have grandchildren to spoil, but I certainly hope never to have to worry about having any additional children of my own.  I’m too old anyway. Thank God for that and hysterectomies. I’ll gladly wait for grandchildren now but I’m in no hurry.
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As I said before, life continues to move on.  We have choices.  We have so many things on our mind, but we have to move on too and remember to make the most of each day.  Each day is a gift.  Each child is a gift.  Each time you spend time with someone you love, that’s a gift.  Life is a gift not to be squandered.  We all must focus on the good and positive things in our lives, the people and things that bring us joy.  Make the most of today and everyday  You only get one chance to live your life, so dwelling on what could have been is self defeating.  So, find joy in your day and focus on that instead of the negative thoughts or comments.

 

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