There we were, 3 generations of friends and me. People I’ve known for a long time were visiting our corner of the world and we got together for lunch. We chose a restaurant where we could sit at a round table and could all hear each other.
1. A son and daughter-in-law are both approaching 50 and getting ready for their last child to leave for college.
2. A mother and father are in their mid 60s. The mother is still working full time while father is fully retired (again) and not happy about it (again).
3. A grandmother and grandfather are both 84 and have just returned from a group mountain climbing expedition.
“We’re in the middle of such a transition!” exclaimed the daughter-in-law. “After all these years devoted to our children, I’m not sure if I’m more excited and scared for our departing daughter or for us.
“I know who I am from my the roles in my life now (as a mother, spouse, and a home maker). What I don’t know how to do is cope with all the freedom we’re going to have. I’m also not sure about what happens when I’m no longer a mother in the way I’ve been used to.
“It’s one thing to dream about a time of life that has lots of new freedom. It’s another thing to take responsibility for finding nutritious ways to live life without rushing into just filling up the time with “doing” things, out force of habit.
“We don’t want to make major life changes right now, but we do want to be thoughtful about our new life and the possibilities for the future. I’m starting to call this the New Freedom period of our lives.”
The unhappily retired father spoke next.
“We’ve been used to our freedom for awhile now, or at least I have. My wife and I are both accomplished people. We’re going to live a long time. We’re interested in exploring new horizons and opportunities. We’re not unhappy. We just don’t want our world to get smaller. We want it to continue expanding. So we’ve started to call this the New Horizons period of our lives.”
Both grandparents spoke as one: “Been there, done that.
The grandmother continued. “As I think back to that period in our own lives, using our new found freedom in a nourishing way was more of a challenge than we expected. It involved a big lifestyle shift for us.
“Later on in life, exploring new horizons became incredibly important because it’s helped to keep us young and has made our world bigger. Heck, who knew we’d be climbing mountains at this stage of our lives? We’re not elderly. Elderly is not a matter of age. It will be when we can’t self-manage anymore and you (pointing to the rest of the family) will have to help us out.
“We’re not young and we’re not elderly, even at 84. And we’ve figured out that we simply don’t have all of the energy we used to, so we’ve simplified our lives and the choices we make. When it comes to our energy, we’d rather climb mountains than belong to a zillion organizations or have a big house to deal with. We are calling this period of our lives the New Simplicity period and, honestly, it’s absolutely the best yet for each and both of us.”
As we continued dinner, we all agreed that seeing and understanding each other through the perspective of the 3 periods of life made much more sense than creating assumptions and reactions based on a person’s age.
New Freedom, New Horizons, and New Simplicity: A new way to comprehend the time of life between 50 and elderly.
What do you think? Please share your comments.