What we care about changes

“Ditching the crap is such a relief. For me, it’s freed up quite a bit of time and emotional space to think about what really does matter. In the spirit of making it count.” —Lisa Sadikman, scarymommy.com

What could be better than knowing my deserving niece is, at this very moment, experiencing the joy and beauty of a brand new first baby? The depth of the emotion, the physical need to hold him, the primal need to care for him.

What could be better?

That it’s not me.

OK, I know that sounds cold. It’s not meant to because I loved having my babies way back when. The experience was everything I mentioned above and more. It was transcendent. In its time.

But now mine are growing and it’s someone else’s turn.

Writer Lisa Sadikman wrote an article with a title I can’t repeat in this small community newspaper. She discussed this phase I find myself in, the post-40, official “mid-lifeness period. She inspired me to think about the best places to direct my remaining (excuse me while I tone down her words,) “what-I-care-abouts.”

Because what I care about is changing. It’s hard to let go of the old time consuming worries I’m used to, but it’s time. I can begin to listen—really listen—to what my gut has been saying for some time, which is basically, “Look lady, for the last time, some things do not matter.”

As I try with all my might to hear to that voice and ease into this “no-more-babies/what-now/thanks-but-no-thanks/I’m-wearing-the-comfy-yoga-pants” era of existence.

What to do with worry: There’s so much to worry about. So very much. And there our increasingly independent kids go, inching closer to the depths of the exciting, overwhelming, boundless, big world, forming their own lives.

What are we supposed to do with that?

I have daughters, which brings its own special set of worries. I’m sure parents of sons carry their own. But for me—safety and equality, self-acceptance and health—are things that matter to me. This is where my heart beats—with them—so it’s only natural my motivation lies here. If I’m going to worry, and I will, I might as well act and advocate. How? That’s a work in progress.

Who completes our circles: Friendships should be authentic, dependable, equal and healthy. The time of speculating why some never happened, fizzled out, or why others are so much work, has to come to an end. By now we instinctively know what works and what doesn’t. We know that friendships and relationships also have to be a continual work in progress, but they shouldn’t be painful.

The function of our body supersedes it shape: So many years of wishing, cursing and belittling our bodies. It’s exhausting. It’s beginning to become strikingly clear that a number or a size is less important than strength and stamina. I don’t always remember that, but it needs to be more often than not. Health equals functionality and a clean gut, not a two-piece.

Accepting it is what it is: We’re all flawed, a little off with quirks and weaknesses. I’m an overprotective, procrastinating, consistently late sugar fiend. And worse, I’m sure. But I’m other stuff too. Here’s to hoping it all evens out. I can say I’ll try to be late less often but I may be lying. I’ll try to stay ahead of deadlines and eat less sugar. Again, a work in progress.

If nothing else, we should try to stay confident in our knowledge that what matters, matters. It’s a good time to “ditch the crap,” so to speak.

The specifics of what that will mean remains to be seen; a work in progress.

Shelley Plett is a graphic designer for the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ventures. She can be reached at shelley@hillsborofree­press.com.

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