What is it about being in your 30’s and even into your 40’s and feeling like you have lost all control of your life? Your days are mostly not yours. Your time is spent doing things that NEED to be done versus doing the things you imagined as a teen/young adult that you would finally have the money and freedom to do once you were a real adult with a job and a home. Well, turns out, your parents were partially right when they gave you the gloomy speech about how life is hard and to enjoy your youth because it only gets harder. The saying “with great power comes great responsibility” comes to mind (am I quoting Voltaire or Spiderman’s uncle?). Being at this age for a lot of us means we have careers, possibly own property now, possibly have a young family, and also for most of us, have aging parents. So on one hand, you are living YOUR life now- you have the power to decide where you want to live, what direction your career is going to go, how you’re going to raise your babies (or fur babies), and ultimately how your household is going to function. On the other hand, you have bills, and kids’ schedules, and responsibilities and commitments coming at you from every direction. It can become overwhelming for sure but as I wrote in my last post and also in another post about stress, this phase, like all of our other life phases is a part of the journey and it is up to you to figure out the balance. The balance between fulfilling your responsibilities and making sure you’re enjoying this part of life and keeping part of yourself. Especially on those days where you feel like you have taken care of everyone around you that you have no energy left for yourself.
The inspiration for this post came from a very difficult situation this past week. My Father in law had to be taken by ambulance to the ER over the weekend and taken into emergency surgery the next morning. This was obviously unexpected and meant that my husband and I had to shuffle life around to make sure that what was most important, his health, was our top priority. We still have the kids to worry about and obviously have students and clients to shuffle around. But without thinking we dropped everything (of course) to make sure we could be there for his father.
In the last 4 days I have only seen my husband in half hour intervals. I have had family members step in to help me with the kids, and I have had to move clients around to be available to handle everything on my own at home so my husband can be with his Dad. I cannot stress enough that in no way did this ever feel like an inconvenience for us. It is a part of this phase of life. Our kids need us. Our parents need us. And we will always put family first. Even when it means putting work aside, possibly losing income, and having literally no time for anything other than making sure everyone is ok.
It is during times like this that you really realize what is important. I am not stressing about the loss of income. I am not angry or frustrated that our life has been disrupted. I am tired. That is for sure. But this is what this stage of life means for me. Maybe not what it means for everyone. But this stage seems like it is for me to pay my dues. To be selfless. To make sure that the older generation that has done so very much for me is ok. To make sure that the generation I am raising is getting what they need from me to have the best possible start in life. So that means that a lot of my time is given to other people. Yes I can be quoted as saying “take care of yourself first. Do things you love. Don’t lose your identity” etc. And I very much mean that. You 30 and 40 somethings have the task of taking care of both parents at times and kids and making sure to keep yourself happy and healthy. Now this isn’t true for everyone. My parents are not elderly. But they will be one day. When that day comes I will obviously make them a priority as well. My kids will be older and not as needy but they will probably have more things on their schedules that require my time and attention. Like I said, each phase has its challenges. But this time, in your 30’s and 40’s for so many, feels like a very hectic time where it is the most challenging to maintain your identity, to have time for yourself, and to have any sort of real balance. But there is something so cool about this chaos. It’s where you really get to see what you’re capable of. It’s where as I mentioned, you get to pay your dues and really meaningfully contribute to the world. It is another part of your life journey where you are making memories and building for the future. So although this post may seem as deflating as your parents lecturing you on the good old days, it is meant to be a reminder that we cycle through phases in life and some are harder than others but it is extremely important that the “responsibilities” do not feel like burdens. But rather a necessary part of growth and a reminder that your parents sacrificed for you and one day your children will as well...hopefully.
Amanda Cooke, RMT