Cresting the Hill

I’ve been thinking about how my 49th birthday is coming up, and how I’ve always had a much harder time with the “9” birthdays than with the “zeroes”. Surprisingly, once the zero comes around again and kicks off a new decade, I’m fine.

I wonder if it will be the same with the big five-oh. 50 is such a huge milestone, a time when people tend to take a step back and look at their lives and reevaluate themselves. It’s a time to think about how you want to live the remainder of your life.

Because the “9” years tend to get me, I thought it might be fun to use 49 as a great big countdown to 50. I calculated that I have about 400 days until my 50th birthday; why not make a bucket list of things I would like to accomplish before the big day?

Most people have a bucket list – a list of things they want to do/see/accomplish before they die – if not in writing, then at least in their minds. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of list, but I want something that doesn’t feel like a final checklist before death. This list will be made up of things I can do in the next year that will point me in the direction I want to go for the rest of my life. That way, when 50 hits, I’ll already be off and running.

Maybe it’s because my kids are older and will be on their own soon (Anna is already halfway through college and Hope is heading into her sophomore year of high school) but I’ve come to realize that I now have a freedom that I haven’t had in years. I can leave the house anytime I want and stay out as long as I like, no need to find a sitter. Stay up until 2am? Sure! There’s no little one who will be tugging my eyelids open at 6am anymore. Last minute overnight road trip? No problem!

Except for one…

The problem is, I’m still behaving as if I have small children at home. I still have dinner ready at 6:00 every evening, as if there is a kindergartener who needs to get to bed before 8:00. An evening out has remained pretty predictable – dinner and a trip to the bookstore, then home by 9:00, just like in the old days when I felt like I had to rush back and make sure everything was okay.

This realization probably happens much sooner for most parents, way before their kids are nearly 20 and 15. I think it’s been slow for me because of what happened to Anna. While the bulk of her recovery occurred within two years, it was probably at least four years before I stopped worrying about leaving her alone.

So, I’ve finally woken up to the fact that I am free to pretty much come and go as I please, and I’ve also noticed that I’m not taking advantage of that freedom. Enter the “Countdown to 50” list of things I want to do before my birthday next year. It will probably be pretty tame compared to what some mid-lifers set out to do (no bungee jumping or skydiving in my future, I can promise you that), but I think it’s going to be fun.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m also thinking it will be fun to share that list here and write about the things I get to check off as I prepare to go over the hill.

I hope you’ll check back often as I get back in the swing of posting regularly. Or, better yet, hit the “subscribe” button over there on the right. It’s always good to have you visit. Thanks for reading.

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