At lunch the other day with two of my oldest -- but definitely not OLDEST -- friends, one of them asked:
"Do you have days when you just can't get out of bed?"
Well, yes. As a matter of fact, I do. There are also days when I just don't WANT to get out of bed -- and therein lies the problem. Not just for me but, it seems, for all three of us at lunch that day. And I'll bet for a lot of you too.
We all feel guilty.
There we were, three 50-something women, all of us with jobs, busy lives, lots of responsibilities. We are all, in some ways, working harder than we did when we were raising our children. And yet, we feel guilty for occasionally not getting dressed until noon.
I have struggled with this ever since my youngest left for college, nearly five years ago.
Why am I so tired?
Forget the fact that I work long hours five to six days a week. Forget the fact that I'm still doing 75 percent of the "domestic" work that I was doing before my empty nest. Forget the fact that my grown children occasionally need me and can sometimes still send me into a storm of worry and anxiety. Forget the fact that sitting is the new smoking, or that Mad Men is ending this year. Forget the fact that ISIS is trying to take over the world, or that anti-Semitic acts are more prevalent now than they've been since World War II.
Not to mention peri or full menopause. Because I'm still not sure where I am on that continuum.
The fact is, I'm kind of old.
And so are my friends, the ones who are tired too.
"Psshh," you might be saying -- especially if you're older than I am (I'm 53). You're still YOUNG!
No, not really.
Back in the day, when our grandmothers were 50-something, many of them were taking it easy. Some of them weren't, but a lot of them were. They had done their jobs -- raised their kids, supported their husbands, cared for older family members. Some of them even worked outside of the home. But by the time they were 50-something, they were slacking off a bit. And rightly so.
Getting older is a little bit hard. Sometimes a lot. No matter what we do, whether we want to or not, we're slowing down. If we're not slowing down, we're working much, much harder at keeping ourselves going than we did, back in the day. Add to that this hazy, continuous guilt that so many women (this doesn't seem to happen to men) feel when we can't keep up -- or don't want to -- and it's even more exhausting.
On top of that, we're supposed to try to look as young as we can, but not too young. Is there a store for that? "Forever Not 21 But Not Old Either?"
The other night, while we were out to dinner, my husband suggested that we make plans a few times during the work week to go to dinner with other people. Nothing major, just grab a bite somewhere nearby, because, well, sometimes -- not often -- but sometimes, he gets a little...ummm...bored during the week in the evenings. This, from a man who gets up every morning at 6 a.m. to swim for an hour, then works until 6 p.m. Trust me, he's tired too.
I get up at 6 a.m. also, but I'm not swimming for an hour. I'm downing coffee, reading emails and checking in on social media.
Bored??? With MOI??? How is that possible? I'll tell you how it's possible. Because by 7 p.m., I'm pretty much done. I may have a few entertaining quips to toss his way during Extra or even The Daily Show (which we're watching on our DVR from the night before -- because we're too tired to stay up that late), but I'm sorry, dear husband, I am just plain tuckered out.
When I told my friends this at lunch -- the same lunch when we talked about being tired -- they laughed. A lot. They feel the same way I do. Sure, every once in a while, it's fun to do something more interesting for dinner than a turkey sandwich at the deli, but most of the time -- nope.
We are all a bit worn out. Not just my friends and me, but women everywhere. Maybe all we need is a cookie and a glass of milk and a nap, and someone to tuck us in.
Previously published on Empty House Full Mind