Getting Older

(click on comic to view larger image)

I saw this cartoon in last week’s newspaper and decided to share it.  I liked it because of the references to children’s books – the “Old Mother Hubbard” nursery rhyme and “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.”

But beyond those references it got me thinking about the aging process and how I feel about it.  I hear many women profess this to be the best time of their lives.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case for me.

The reasons I’ve heard most often are that once their children are grown, they have time for themselves, and something about knowing themselves better.  Perhaps the two go hand in hand since childrearing can be all consuming for many years.

I don’t have children so my 20s and 30s were much different.  During this time we bought a sailboat and taught ourselves to sail, I went to college and earned 2 degrees, we lived in 4 different states and traveled a great deal.  I was fit and healthy and filled with the thought that anything and everything was possible.  I didn’t worry about finances because we always lived beneath our means and because we rented it was easy to go where the jobs were.  More than once we sold everything and moved to another part of the country without a place to live, a job, or sometimes both.  I thrived on the unknown and discovering new friends and natural wonders.

Now in my fifties, for the first time in my life, I feel constraint and loss of opportunity at every turn.  We own our house free and clear, but rather than feeling comforted by that, I feel we must stay here rather than give up that safety in order to find better employment opportunities.  I no longer believe that my degrees from some of the best schools in California mean anything or that they would help me obtain a decent job.  So giving up this small bit of security feels foolish.  Yet my ability to find interesting work is severely limited – I’m either overqualified or don’t have specific enough experience.  So many other people are looking for jobs that every advertised position garners hundreds of applications.

I’ll be starting a new job on Monday, managing a website that collects and analyzes county-specific data.  I am a one-person department who will rely heavily on volunteers (ugh).  The benefits and pay are pitiful, between a third and one half of my previous position.  But it is a job and the commute is under 20 miles one way.  Considering the large sums of money I’ve lost in the last 18 months, I’ll probably have to work until it’s no longer possible. 

So no, I’m not enjoying this stage of my life at all!


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