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Entries in Middle Age (2)


Feeling my age

My Greek class has a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. And for that reason -- among many --  I love it. Greek is offered to both seminary students and college students, and I have a college student sitting right behind me. He's old enough to be my son. He's a nice kid who reminds me a lot of my younger son. 

The woman who sits beside me is closer in age; probably at least ten years younger. We shared a chuckle the other when we took up the homework. One of the translation sentences contained a word that the workbook promised we would know if we said it out loud: Ἀνἀθεμα. It's the word "anathema." The younger students in the class maintained that even after saying it out loud, they did not recognize that word. It was only the older students (and probably some of the more widely read younger ones) who recognized it. There is one benefit of age.

Never more do I feel my age than in the last little while. Physically, I feel it a little, but most of my awareness comes as I interact with people. I listened to a podcast over the weekend that left me bewildered as to the appeal, but I wonder if that was simply a matter of me showing my age.

I don't think I'd want to be younger again. I'm content with where I am now. There are things I have learned and sanctification I've experienced that I would not want to give up. There are things I know now that I would not know apart from getting older.

One of the downsides, though, is that current culture is not always friendly to aging. In my Church History class we have seen repeatedly that back in the ancient church, anything new was immediately suspect. Christianity was seen as a "new" religion, and therefore regarded with hesitancy, not open arms. It is the opposite today. Whoever is the newest must surely be the best. And in some cases, the new is good, and the old is not so good, but that is not always the case. There are times, though, when I do fee doubly disadvantaged: I'm a woman and I'm over 50.

A few years ago, I had some of my writing being edited by a younger person. The editor took note and reminded me on more than one occasion that she was younger than I. It was not something I thought about, but she did. Perhaps she found it odd to be in a position of authority over an older woman. The relationship didn't last long, but in that brief time, I was struck by how much this editor focused on my age. 

My Greek professor is younger than many of us in the class. I don't think he dwells much on that fact. And as students, we are all in the same place: newbies trying to learn Greek. For myself, I am always happy to see someone else succeed. When we get together to share our translation homework answers, I'm silently cheering on whoever is offering the answer.  If the young kid behind me gets the answer right, I'm happy for him. I have personally found on a few occasions these past two years that it is often the young guys who are the most welcoming to the students who are old enough to be their moms. 

I'm never going to be one of those women who tries to look (or sound) younger than I am. I don't intend on wearing clothes my 28 year old daughter would or adopting the popular ways of speaking in order to distract myself or others. I'm thankful for what age has given me.


Of howling, hairy toddlers

I have a Beagle named Luna. Since I have become an empty nester, I feel like I'm living with a four legged toddler, except that this toddler has no hope of becoming rational at any time. On the upside, it's okay to lock her up in a cage when she's unruly.

Like a toddler, she believes everything belongs to her, especially the couch, although she cannot understand why I don't want her up there when she's licking her hindquarters.

Like a toddler, she has poor manners. Luna has no shame in satisfying her passion for cat food by pushing the cat away from his own dish as he eats. He's pretty stupid, though, because one swipe with an open claw, and she (like a toddler) would run away crying.

Like a toddler, she is a drama queen when she gets caught for her many infractions. Being sent to the crate when she's been busted is generally met with a lot of sass, as she lets out her houndy yelp when the door closes. That is followed by a pitiful wine of resignation. I wonder if the neighbours think we're beating her.

There are toys all over the the place, covered in drool, just like a toddler.

The other day, when she was successful in robbing the cat of his dinner, her hasty ingestion led to her vomiting the entire contraband all over the back door rug; a minute before I was supposed to leave the house. That is when I thought to myself, "My life has become consumed with a hairy, howling toddler." My self-pity didn't last long, fortunately. But this is indeed life as an empty nester. The pets take on a strange significance.

Yes, I miss my kids. This is year eight since the first one went away. They have busy lives, and while the first year away from home saw each of them return more frequently, their independence means that coming home isn't as easy. I've noticed their absence more this year. The quiet is more tangible because it's longer and the sound of their voices returning isn't as frequent. Luna, who desperately loves her pack, feels the same, as is evidenced by the her joyful apoplexy at their return.

But life is good. God is good to me. I am healthy, I can take care of my house, I'm not sitting in a hospital bed or confined to my own at home. I have enough to eat and a roof over my head. In between battles between the cat and dog, I have a full life. This is the way it is meant to be. We raise our children and then we watch them fly. If I became too consumed with melancholy at their absence, I would have a problem. I have had my moments, but when you have a dog who has learned to tip toe so she can sneak up behind the cat while your back is turned, life is intereseting. I'm studying more, reading more, thinking more, and working with my hands. Soon, I'll be back at teaching on Sunday and helping in the young mom's bible study. 

In the past few weeks, I have seen the bloggers who have shared about sending a child to Kindergarten, to high school, or to college. I nod along, because I know what those things feel like. Some share the reality of very mixed emotions. It's exciting, but at the same time, difficult. I get that.

Ladies, it gets easier. Being alone and without career is forcing me to really seek God, to really test that exhortation I frequently hand out: "Find your sufficiency in God." When the day lies open before me, and I feel like I don't know what to do with my time, God has a way of filling it with not only activity, but simply himself. In between missing my kids, I've had precious moments when I am left saying simply, "Thank you, Lord."

For all those women watching their babies fly the coop, it really does get easier. And if you're really bored, I know the name of a good Beagle breeder.