I feel like I have spent the entire year of 2013 hanging on to a very short rope for dear life- I’ve tied knots in the rope to keep from falling, I have the scars to prove how many times the stupid rope has burned me- I honestly feel like my hands are raw from just holding on to it.
I understand we all need a little madness in our life or we never dare to cut the ropes that either tie us down or leave us hanging on–or worse, choke us half to death
But sometimes you have to be a little crazy, a little mad, a little brave, and a little ignorant to just blindly cut yourself free.
Because as crazy as the ropes in life make us- we allow ourselves to get so accustomed to them that we think that our “security” comes from “holding on” tightly or even worse- we end up believing that we ARE the rope-and that others desperately need us in order to have something to cling to in their life.
From the beginning of time, we all begin our own life in the “real world” the same way. It starts the moment that someone cuts our umbilical cord; which prior to birth supported each of us. Some people go through life trying to find ways to reattach themselves to someone or something that will supply their every need- others become the rope or lifeline that those types of people try to grasp onto and then a special few actually enjoy free-falling, living life to the fullest in the moments they pass through, with no ropes to tie them down.
I think my two oldest children may end up being people such as this-and I admit to being a little green with envy at times when they take off down less beaten paths- but I admit, I am extremely proud that even though I felt hog tied by ropes much of the time- I taught them how to cut loose.
I had one of my most hysterical and sarcastic friends tell me once in that husky voice of hers, that “she didn’t mind the ropes in her life or even hanging on by a thin one- because any cords binding her in life- were all made of satin”
I laughed- but I remember thinking at the time that my “personal ropes” resembled the old, worn out, thick, quadruple braided, heavy duty twine cable ropes…like the kind of rope they used in games of tug-of- war in school.
I was always in the “anchor” spot and everyone in front of me constantly bitched about pulling any of the weight.
In comparison- I may not have minded satin ropes that much either.
2013 has found me asking myself many times “what binds me? What keeps me from doing and being everything God called me to be?”
“What ropes in life have I clinched on to so hard that I’m allowing my flesh to be torn apart just to keep from letting go?”
Or better yet- “who else is even pulling on this rope with me- or am I the only one left holding on?”
Deep thoughts- maybe. But I think as women sometimes we trade the “ropes” we hold on to; in the same manner as we trade the many hats we wear. We go from wearing the chef hat, to the chauffeur, maid, nurse, teacher…the list goes on and on.
We jump between the roles we fill in life- as if we were swinging from rope to rope on the monkey bars, or in reality, as if we were full speed ahead on the real life ropes that are found on an obstacle course that only females compete on. Our eyes are always on the next rope- never looking down- never enough time to think about exactly what it is we are doing- we just DO IT or fall..
And we have been trained to think that to “fall is to fail”
It can become as competitive as the TV show Ninja Warrior- with those uptight “play group” mommies and PTA professionals playing the part of the judges that keep up with which “mommy” is in the lead-
It’s always that one “super amazon mom” who jumps from rope to rope, never missing a beat and finishing in record time-with the cleanest house, the coolest party favors, she still uses table settings and throws Tupperware parties- and can somehow pull off a “Pure Romance” party that doesn’t come off as crude as they really are.
She can craft like Picasso, may actually own stock in Pinterest- her kids always match and she is always selected as the “room mom” at the school.
Her clothes are in fashion, her body still firm, no one has figured it out yet, but she somehow has her own income, the worst part is, she doesn’t need a boob job even though she runs the local “La-Leche” center and is still breast-feeding her 5-year-old!
This Amazon Mom– who I promise- all of us “other” ladies know- also manages to do all this without cracking the Mary Kay makeup covering her face or breaking a single well manicured nail.
And we won’t even get into how well she swings from the ropes labeled “wife” and “entrepreneur”
The point is- somewhere in life-I think the rest of us ladies find ourselves thinking we should be perfect, while hanging on to a rope that is kind of suspended between one role or another- or suddenly we look back and the ropes we have always used in the past to hang on to– are gone.
We find ourselves 20 pounds overweight, yet exhausted from the marathon of life. The sad part is we stay in jogging suits or yoga pants for so many years, in order to at least comfortably run the obstacle course day in and day out, that we don’t even notice that our “athletic attire” is currently two sizes to small until we get tagged in some picture on Facebook, that we didn’t even have the time to personally take while at one of our kids school programs or sporting events. We cringe, figure up all the calories we burn jumping like fools from rope to rope all day long, put down the glass of wine and grab a diet coke and decide to hate that “amazon mom” a little more as we Google “quick weight loss” clinics nearby.
Then we usually admit to our-self that we are tired, but the thought of letting GO doesn’t register just yet.
Our older kids graduate- the middle kids move to middle school and we remember that upper grades don’t need room mothers anymore- PTA gives way to Booster clubs and then college comes and it leaves you with something new and completely foreign….
Its called “spare bedrooms.”
The problem is this- I’m gonna be honest here- I may be stoned for it later- but it’s my blog… So here is the TRUTH about those damn “ropes” and the “spare bedrooms”
that every woman hitting middle age MUST know.
Nobody is born knowing how to climb ropes-or swing from them or even hang on to them- Not to mention most of us girls freaken hate “rope climbing” anyway!
As a kid, we probably came to school with a note from home to be excused from PE in order to NOT have to participate on a day that we had to climb ropes!
Or as a mama-we wrote our own daughter that excuse too.
Rope climbing or even hanging on to one- is a sport made for people with lots of upper body strength- and lets face it- MEN are the ones created to have the upper body strength- not women!
We have just been tricked into thinking more and more of the roles made for men are OUR job.
Most men today have less upper body strength and far more fat around the middle than ever before- and women end up building upper body strength by carrying DEAD weight around while hanging on to a rope.
It’s like that comedian who jokes about his wife paving the driveway, while he yells at her from the porch.
“Hey baby? Man, it’s hot as hell out here! Look, don’t worry about emptyin’ that ashtray in the den, I done got it, all right? Did it for you, sweet pea. I’m gonna take a nap now.”
But on too many levels its true.
We get praised for being enablers and we give away the right to be cherished-
We earn respect by how well we hold on to the ropes in life and we loose the right be honored or judged by our hearts.
We somehow learn to think that our worth comes from our appearance, yet fail to take the time to take care of that appearance without feeling guilty. We get down on ourselves when we pack on pounds from stress, but get interrupted a thousand times if we attempt to shut the door and exercise at home or have your entire family track you down with nothing short of an APB if you sneak off to the gym. As a woman one of the ropes you learn to swing from first, is how to shower, potty and take care of any other private matters while little fist pound on a door. EVERYTHING on the obstacle course is TIMED. You may hit the years where you can find time for a hobby or jog or do a few things for you, but even that is on a TIMED schedule, it’s just another rope..and if your running late or something comes up, the rope you looked forward to grabbing is the one cut from the daily schedule.
The truth is, I don’t care how well you manage it, or how high your top score is, like it or not- you’re not super woman because you can swing from a lot of ropes-and I don’t care if you hold the Ninja Warrior record for holding on to a rope longer than anyone else- you will eventually let go.
And the funniest part is this. IF you had ever taken the time to look down while on that obstacle course, instead of looking directly at the next rope you had to grab or loose it all and fall- you would have seen a bunch of ladies in their mid 40’s and early 50’s looking fabulous, with their feet planted firmly on the ground and laughing their butts off at you!
That’s the truth about the ropes.
Now here is the truth about the “spare bedrooms”
That broken heart you expected to feel while standing in that spare bedroom- void of the piles of dirty clothes and the rest of your precious child’s personal belongings once you pack him or her off to college or launch them into life…. It’s a myth.
You DON’T actually see this room as being EMPTY or filled with sadness.
You may not ever admit it- but I promise- standing in that empty room and feeling like it’s the END of something, is NOT what you will feel.
What you will see, is an empty space that is FILLED with possibilities.
It may shock you so bad that you feel guilty-Or you may even fake a breakdown in order to go to bed for the day- while secretly plotting your next move and surfing ideas on pinterst.
Either way..while your wiping away tears that your husband thinks are from sadness- YOU already KNOW that you see a “treadmill” in that spare room…or a yoga mat- or a craft table or an easel and canvases with paints and brushes galore…
Or in my case- an original piece of artwork, in the form of a painting of John Lennon, walls decorated with everything from music notes to paper roses, a 1947 Philco radio cabinet which I restored and then turned the back of into shelving to hold my REAL record player, my vinyl albums on a shelf, a comfy day bed with soft sheets and cool covering for nights when the hot flashes get a little to bad, but most importantly, a corner desk with a computer and all the inspiration I need to write until my heart is content. From that spare bed room, I found a little bit of heaven. My “Peace Out Room” came to be.
And then once you enter into that space–that space that holds your passion–You start cutting ropes.
I will agree that you feel a pain that you remember from your early years- it really does resemble the pains of labor. You will find yourself having to fight through some rough moments, breathing in the right places, using Lamaze exercises to keep from going postal on the husband or older kids or extended family that want to keep you focused on their needs above all others or throwing off the covers and tossing and turning like you did in labor, but this time its an inferno from within caused by falling estrogen. You will lose sleep the way you did those last few weeks of pregnancy, insomnia comes back with a bang–but this time, you have YOU that your up with, YOU can read, create, invent, until your heart is content or until you finally crash, which ever comes first.
You find yourself with the desire to nest again-as if you’re preparing for something… Then you realize- it really is the birth of YOU.
All those dreams that you put on hold or never fully considered before racing off into grown up life and taking on the role of wife, mother, friend, those dreams burst forth like an exploding volcano
You find peace with yourself, you even find peace with the things in life that you messed up on. There is a compassion that you discover that you have for yourself and its very similar to that compassion that you gave to your children. It’s an unconditional love for you that does not require a rat race or an obstacle course or a bunch of ropes that you have to hold on to in order to experience. Yes, your emotions can go from sad to happy to furious to nobody is home, in under 60 seconds–but I have been told that is temporary and therefore, I am not concerned. If the low estrogen makes me crazy sometimes, then I can handle that, because it also makes me crave chocolate like I did as a teenager, only the “who gives a sh%*” hormones have left the building too, so I can eat the chocolate and not feel the least bit bad about it. Works for me
Besides, at this same time that everything feels crazy, there is this spark of excitement about the future.
Your husband may or may not be able to adjust- but the kids will- I promise. They have these lives of their own and your required to cut the cord (or double braided- super thick rope) and allow them to live that life-
Its their own personal LIFE-Mistakes and all!
So with a new year- I understand the questions that plagued me all of last year. I wasn’t suppose to ever be so good at rope climbing.
Not that I excelled at the sport by any means- heck I left each of my kids somewhere by accident at least once when they were little.
But I over compensated by being able to juggle, swing from ropes, make things appear here and there like a master illusionist and could pull rabbits out of which ever hat I happen to be wearing better than any magician.
It left me feeling like I graduated high school and lived the dream of running away to join the circus..only to become the Main Attraction!!
2013 ends with my retirement from the 3 ring extravaganza.
I have decided that those 20 to 30ish year old “Amazon moms” can have their moment under the spotlight.
I’m going to spend more time on actual amazon.com learning how to format this book I’m going to finish and hopefully publish as an eBook-and I’m going to do it from the beautifully transformed space of my “spare bed room.”
Because the simple truth is that the appearance of a spare bed room is what signals the beginning of a great change in a woman’s life, it means that there is ROOM in your life for you to think about yourself a little more again. As much as your husband may dislike the idea, and call you ten kinds of crazy, or complain that he has pneumonia because its 20 degrees outside and you have all the bedroom windows open-and he can “see his own breath” His complaining doesn’t bother you, when its 210 degrees inside your skin at the moment, and that spare room becomes what centers you. You can keep that room whatever temperature you want too.
I have come to the conclusion after much scientific research over margaritas or wine, or really light low carb beer, with other women my age, that men would have a much easier time of this “change” that his wife is going through, if men in general, would just take their eyes off the fact that their wife is not “mothering” him anymore, and understand that it has nothing to do with him and no amount of pouting, fussing, or being patient and kind will ever bring it back. She just medically cant do it any longer.
When God has the eggs that let her become a mother dry up–so does her need to mother someone on a daily basis. Which is the reason our perfectly brilliant God had this change coincide with kids being old enough to be shooed from the nest. Without menopause, no kid would ever leave home!
She can’t hold on to all those ropes the way she did in the past, while swinging from the one that says “feed me” to the one that says “Love me” to the one that says “Tell me what to do” back over to the one that says “Feed me” She also cant stand in the anchor spot holding the rope any longer and participate in life’s tug-of-war.
Now, she can and will stand-off to the side and tell everyone else to pull and cheer for them- but if you end up face down in the mud–she is going to find it hysterically funny and probably laugh entirely too loud. My research also proves that if men would step up and stop following their poor wife (who is in the middle of menopause) around like a lost puppy- she wouldn’t go so nuts that she acts like she has rabies. Men hate menopause because suddenly, their very capable, very competitive, very loving and organized wife, who has managed the lives of her entire household with so little time–gets crazy enough to CUT the ROPE.. and she goes through every emotion known under the sun while she is free-falling.
If he is lucky–she lands in a spare bedroom with a passion to be creative.
Those amazon moms that led the pack and set the standard no one could live up too, they tend to cut their ropes and land in the arms of the bag boy at the grocery store, become scandalous cougars, end up on Prozac and then later, after recovery, they end up married to a rich man, with their on reality show–you just cant ever compete with those ladies. LOL
The women who have spouses who can’t adjust, they tend to cut the ropes and free fall in terror, only to land in the arms of the first man who makes them feel good about themselves.
That is the sad part of midlife. Statistics show the spike in the numbers of divorces during midlife is happening at twice the rate as it did 20 years ago ( I will also add my two cents in saying this divorce rate is probably higher than before because doctors stopped giving women estrogen that was derived from pregnant horses piss as hormone replacement over the past 20 years, which led to breast cancer, so men are having to EXPERIENCE menopause instead of the woman being medicated through it)
The really scary part is that 66% of the midlife or “gray” divorces are initiated by women. YIKES.
I am telling you, a panel of women, not in the midst of a hormonal rage at the time and joyfully sipping on margaritas have told me the problem and I agree–it’s as simple as the MAN accepting that for years, he benefited from her being a good mother, because she took care of him as well as she did her kids–If she cooked the kids a balanced and healthy meal, he got to eat it too. If she baked cupcakes, her husband got to eat some too- If a woman had a house full of sick kids, and her husband caught the flu–she tucked him in, gave him his medicine and took care of him too.
Men tend to forget, that his wife was the one usually hanging on by a short rope at that point, and if she got sick–she had to continue to hang on, continue to keep climbing and just focus on the next obstacle ahead. And while a husband may have benefited for many years from having a wife who was a good mother- it was never her JOB to fill that ROLE for him. It was just a bonus prize, nobody really plans it that way. But when she was swinging like Tarzan through the jungle of life and managing home, work, kids, bills, after school activities, PTA, extended families, and everything in between–it was just easier to tell her husband what she needed him to do than to expect him to know it and just do it. However, every woman I have consulted all agree- and it may not be fair…but the biggest problem that occurs when a woman cuts the ropes and ends up with the possibilities of her own space in a spare bedroom-is that it doesn’t end there.
Usually, that time and room allows her to explore her own dreams or births the discovery of a passion that becomes so big she needs her own commercial space for her growing business. Almost overnight she needs her husband to KNOW what she needs and she doesn’t really feel like telling anyone what to do anymore. I have witnessed friends run their first marathons, while their husbands just missed the significance of it. They have started their own companies, gotten college degrees after the age of 40- created beautiful pottery, painted pictures that I had no idea they had the talent to do, even though I had seen their artwork for years in the form of child-like dinosaurs or whatever theme the school book fair was going with that year. But to see that talent on canvas revealing who THAT woman is inside, not through the eyes of her child or her position on the “decorating committee” Its kinda magical.
The truth about ropes and spare bed rooms is more simple than these two blogs that I combined. Fill that spare room with whatever possibility strikes your fancy, allow whatever you fill it with to grow outside the walls of that room, share it with the world, relish the spare time that you have for YOU at this point in life- don’t go looking for just anything to fill a void that you see as an empty space. “Create” something that is uniquely YOU within an empty space and if you find yourself hanging on by a thin rope- make sure it’s made of satin… If its not- cut yourself loose!
One last word of advice- I am also blessed to know the sweetest lady who safely sailed through the change in life and landed on the other side. She admitted that the storm brewed inside her home and in her marriage for a good six years. The more she worked in her garden, the more her husband stomped around the house waiting for his dinner. The longer she went between trips to the store, the more he mumbled under his breath about there being nothing to eat in the house. She said for a while their interactions consisted of her slamming a loaf of bread on the counter, tossing a jar of peanut butter beside it and then leaving him standing there in the kitchen after she slammed the door to her sons old bedroom which she had turned into a “reading room”
She laughed while recalling her passion for growing things, spending hours with her flowers, reading all about grafting roses and growing plants from small cuttings, or ordering uncommon seedlings. She said at one point she just knew her husband was the one walking all over her baby plants while he denied even knowing she had anything planted there. At one point she said she literally visualized herself choking him with the water hose after he crushed her baby plants by sitting the trash can right on top of them. She said later, she was finally able to understand that her husband saw the transformation of the kids growing up and spending less time at home, or finally away at college in a completely different light than she did.
She recalled the day it all made perfect sense to her, it was during one pretty heated argument that she finally asked her husband this question.
“What exactly did YOU think I was going to do with my time once all the kids moved out, sit here and wait for you ring for me when a commercial break came on TV?”
His answer shocked her.
Her husband admitted that he envisioned the empty nest as a time when the house would be quieter, but more importantly, he figured that when they reached this point in their life, that his wife would simply be happy because she finally had more time to finish all the things that she use to complain about never having enough time to do.
Her husband honestly thought that the kids flying the coop would give her more time to do the same things she had always done!
In his mind, she wouldn’t stop cooking big meals, or stocking the house full of food, or washing all the laundry, or cleaning every corner of the house or making sure dinner was done each night by 5:30pm. The only major change that he expected once the kids grew up, was that his poor wife would finally have MORE time to do it ALL in and then maybe have a few moments of extra time to relax in the chair beside him in front of the TV.
She told me that she laughed until she cried, while her husband missed the significance of it, and just figured it was another inappropriate display of crazed hormonal emotions. Eventually, she stopped laughing long enough to tell him that he was NUTS if he thought that was the way the next 25 years of their life was going to be lived.
She discovered in one conversation the root of the problem. Her husband couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that the extra time, was time she finally had to invest in her OWN life. This poor man couldn’t understand how she could expect him to eat a sandwich for dinner, not find time to go to the store, and yet have a yard so filled with flowers that strangers were now stopping by and offering to pay to use her yard for everything from wedding pictures to prom pictures.
Imagine the shock most husbands really do face when their wife seems to have more time than ever before, and yet he sees her doing less and less of what she has always done before, especially things that he took for granted that she did for him.
This woman’s home is now filled with grandchildren, her yard is still gorgeous- although they have contemplated selling if the market improves. When she cooks a huge meal for the two of them, her husband now fusses about her doing so, or makes her promise to not cook the next two nights, because left overs suit him just fine these days. They share a love for auctions and antiques– and when he goes fishing or hunting,, she is up at the crack of dawn and cooks him a big breakfast and sends him out the door with his lunch cooler packed. He swears that she treats him like a king. I think it’s amazingly sweet.
And it proves my other point- if a man really wanted to breeze through the change, he could stop digging his heels in about all the things his wife expects him to do now. He would take on the duties that she never should have done alone in the first place-If a woman is trying to lighten her load, a smart man will grab whatever she is struggling with–because if he stands there and refuses, or acts like he is incapable of doing it on his own, and she has to keep carrying it all–when menopause comes she wont just drop it- she will drop kick it everywhere in a fit of fury and refuse to clean a bit of it up– she will cut the rope and let whatever was at the end of the rope that was so heavy, simply fall where it lands.
All a man has to do is understand that his wife is NOT his mother and she wont always have little kids running around to MOTHER- and as my sweet friend pointed out–once her husband gave up his own childish wants, she wasn’t opposed to meeting him in the middle about much of anything. She grew to value his opinion so much in the years since they re-learned the roles of “husband and wife” that now, if he were to tell her “No” to just about anything it would never enter her mind to not trust his instinct.
I think the transition would be much smoother if most women didn’t feel like they had to cut away so many ropes to feel free. Its pretty simple really. If a woman needs help, give it. If she doesn’t ask for help, pay enough attention to her that you are aware when she needs it and then take the initiative to do what needs to be done…and maybe even take time to do a few things she hasn’t expected.
I am certain that the couples out there LOVING it up during their golden years are the ones who were creative enough to keep finding new and exciting ways to use the satin cords and the spare bed-rooms!