Friday 1 November 2019. Day 293: At the end of a week where I’ve worked (the salaried kind), supported my mum through a major operation, managed a family member’s mental health crisis, spent time with my children and grandchildren, cleaned the bathroom and had the offer of sex from two separate men, I’m left wondering, how the hell am I managing it all?
It would appear that I am a fully paid up member of what is known as the ‘sandwich generation’. Now at 50 years old, having had my babies relatively young, I have grown-up children (one of whom still lives at home), two grand-children, an elderly parent who lives alone and a job that I need to have in order to single-handedly pay a mortgage for another 19 years. I don’t have a husband, life partner or soulmate to support me. I have no pension to speak of, so retirement is a long way off yet. I am certainly not over-the-hill and can usually juggle countless tasks and situations, but since my peri-menopause symptons properly kicked in a year ago, each day I feel I’m juggling whilst wading knee deep through treacle.
By Thursday of this week, I couldn’t stop crying. I was with my eldest and her two daughters, and I was a wreck. Waves of emotion kept washing over me like a tsunami and very unlike me, I couldn’t control the tears. After the morning with these three, I headed back to hospital to spend time with mum who is recoverng from a knee replacement. Usually cheery and positive, I’m fighting back the tears; not helpful to a patient who is herself in pain and feeling vulnerable. As my mum, she can read me like a book, and it takes only one look at my face to know I’m struggling. At this point I’m not sure who’s the patient.
After mum and I both have a cathartic cry and put the world to rights, I head home to do some work on the paid job before I throw something in the oven and then hot foot it back to hospital; it’s a long day when you’re in a little room with limited mobility and no tv to distract you (yes, you heard right, no tv in the hospital) so I’m trying to visit mum regularly throughout the day. Back home to eat the very overcooked chicken before I have a quick bath and finally fall into bed where I wash my magnesium tablets down with my ‘bedtime’ blended cup of tea and turn on a podcast to fall asleep to. 2am and I’m wide awake.
So, I mentioned earlier the offers of sex. It’s only fair I explain this. As you will know, I am not in a relationship, however I have been dating with the help of an online dating app. I could write a whole new blog on my experiences of this but I don’t have the energy or the time! The first offer came in the form of an invite from an interesting guy that I had one date with a few weeks ago. Given the distance we live from each other, we haven’t met up again but have stayed in contact. This week he suggested that he could book a hotel close by to where I live and that I could spend the night with him. Hmmmm? Call me old fashioned, but just an invite to dinner would have been most welcomed. The thought of not having to think about what I’m going to cook myself for one evening sounds far more seductive than a night of awkward unfamiliar sex with a guy I barely know.
The second offer was more disheartening. A very old flame tracked me down recently and having not seen him for 20 years, the idea of having a coffee with him seemed lovely. It was surreal to see him again but the fondness and affection we’d felt for each other all those years ago was clearly evident. What I hadn’t expected him to hope from this one-off reunion, was that he’d be offered a spoonful of sex with his coffee. Again, call me old fashioned, but a quick illicit shag for old time’s sake isn’t very appealing to me.
Needless to say I rejected both offers and was inevitably left feeling flat and actually insulted that these two men just saw me as someone to be used for their self gratification. A really helpful trans-atlantic text conversation this week with a very dear friend of mine couldn’t have been better timed. I told her I was having a particularly emotional week and moaned the usual crap about my nonexistent love life. She sent me an enlightening article about giving up on love. My initial reaction was confusion but after I finished reading the author’s own experience of constant disappointing midlife dating, I felt strangely comforted. I have a life, a full life with wonderful family and faithful friends. I have a lovely home and a good job. I have everything I ever wanted apart from the life partner. Clearly if I want sex, it’s available, although for me, I have learned this week that casual sex is not an option; I need commitment. And there it is; commitment. I’m looking for something I already have from my family, friends and work colleagues. The pursuit of happiness from one significant other is for me, a myth.
And so I head into a new week where I shall slap my newly increased HRT patches onto my sagging backside, which are finally giving me back my juggling skills in order for me to continue to work, care for my mum now that she’s back home, play at being princesses with my granddaughter and throw the vacuum and a duster around the house. I will also be deleting the dating app. My beautiful family and friends love me and think I’m amazing and finally after years of self deprecating resistance to their protestations of love and assurance, I believe them; I am loved.
Until next time lovelies, keep that sandwich short of a full picnic! Much love,
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50 year old mum and grandma juggling children, grandchildren, love, work, and the menopause!