Life In Between
It dawned on me yesterday - I am the new norm. The thing is that not many people have acknowledged that yet.
Here's what I mean…
So, I've been struggling over the past year or so of finding my place and purpose. I know that I want to do something to help women live their best lives, but I keep wish-washing on what that looks like.
I've spent several years in the pregnancy and postpartum health fields, but that's not me anymore. While I still love helping women move well during pregnancy and return strong afterward, personally I've moved on.
I'm smack dab in the heart of perimenopause and dealing with now physical complications and emotional roller coasters. I'm learning so much about this season of life while I'm living it, and it intrigues me. I've tried to tap into this market, but it's not a fit either.
I started a Meetup group here in Denver and had an amazing response - close to 100 women who were interested. All over 40. But here was the kicker - most of the women who requested to join have grown kids, or at least high school aged kids. Some are grandparents. All are looking for the next chapter of their lives and that adventure is calling them. But, it's calling them alone. Without kids. Without the question of babysitters and last-minute cancelations due to sickness. They are planning graduations and first years of colleges. They are my people, but they are not. They want to go on hikes and events with other women and not with kids being dragged along. Sometimes I can do that, but often it's not an option.
We want the same things. I think it's a natural transition around 40 that we start reflecting on our lives and wondering if this is it. What else can we do? Why is my period coming every 15 days and then not for 2 months? Why is the weight not budging anymore when nothing else I've done has changed? Why am I not living the life I was dreaming of in my 20s? What happened, and what can I do to get it back?
Those are the questions I've been asking myself and have heard from others. The difference is that many women in their 40s and 50s are taking back their freedom with very few strings attached. Older kids can be left alone or have activities that keep them busy most of the day. Or, they are in college or workings. Not mine. I am 45 and my kids are 6 and 9. I desperately want to move to my next chapter. I want to hike and climb. I want to train for a race. I want so much but I still have to ask myself, what am I doing with my kids?
I am in between. And I am not alone.
Women in their 40s are the fastest growing demographic of women who are having babies in the US. Many women are waiting until their late 30s and early 40s to have their first kids, and others are starting over again by adding a baby to a mix of basically grown kiddos. I am the first group. I had my son when I was 36 and my daughter at 39. I didn't wean my youngest until I was 42, which means that the postpartum and breastfeeding hormone roller coaster let out and I walked right onto the perimenopause ride. Yeah, good times for us.
And I think we're getting the shaft a bit and no one is really including us into the mix. I know I've even said to get out there and reclaim your life, but this summer is shedding new light on that advice. I'm struggling to find the "me time" I so crave and balancing what the heck to do with my kids. They are at that age when they're too old for childcare at a gym, but not older enough to hang out without "direct parent supervision". Yes, I actually got that when I inquired at my climbing gym regarding letting them come and hang out while I worked out. So that means that maybe I can hit the weight and cardio while in-sight of them, or maybe boulder a bit. But forget and classes. It's not going to happen this summer.
Or maybe I want to do a hike that's a bit longer - not going to happen until maybe their one week of summer camp. It's fine. I don't mind the shorter hike that they can do, but it does put a little kink in my plans of bagging a 14'er.
So you see, we're definitely an in-between group. We're being told to reduce the stress in our lives to help with hormone health and balance, and yet most of us are still dealing with the situations commonly associated with women in their 20s and 30s who aren't in the throes of perimenopause. We're getting our kids out of diapers and wondering if we need them for ourselves! Is the belly fat baby weight hanging on, or what? Is my period going to come back after this last baby or is it done? Sleep - some of us are still dealing with night wakings due to our kids, and some of us have no idea why 3 am seems to be the new party time for our brains.
We are in between.
And so I hope to tackle our questions a bit more from that angle. To embrace this community of truly "Midlife Moms". Those of us who became in moms in midlife and are forging a new path of what perimenopausal motherhood looks like. Figuring out our balance in hormones, in parenting younger kids, and reclaiming an identity that pulling at us.
If you've moved on from the young kids, I still invite you to join us because we're going to need your experience and expertise to help get us through!