by Andrea Tadpole
Wow!! I'm sitting here on my 50th birthday at 12:07am. I am both grateful and stunned that I've lived this long. I keep counting the years and thinking I must have added wrong. Yet I didn't. Here I am. I'm 50. I've lived half a century. It blows my mind!
I have spent my life hurrying to get to one age or another. I could not wait to get to 16 so I could drive. I wanted freedom so bad and 16 symbolized that for me. Then there was 18. I wanted to be an adult so I could call my own shots and not answer to anyone. Of course I wanted to be 21 so I could get in a bar or liquor store without having to lie.
Then I got sober at 23. It was as if time stood still in a way. I stopped counting days to the next age and just lived for today. I focused on my recovery from alcoholism. I worked the steps and tried to set my life right. I did not do everything perfect but through God's grace I celebrated 26 years of sobriety this past July.
I got busy focusing on raising my family. Looking back I don't think I did a very good job of it, but I put my whole heart into it. God blessed me with the most wonderful son and daughter a mother could ever have. There are not enough words in the English language to describe the depth of love and pride I have a for them. It seems like just when I got the hang of being a mom they grew up and moved away. A day does not go by that I don't long for the the sound of my son's music in the background and my daughter chattering away to me about something. Those are lost moments that I blurred through with the busyness of life and now I treasure with everything.
I spent my 40s getting my college education that everyone said I wasn't smart enough to do. I followed my heart, my passion and I got a degree in art. I graduated Summa Cum Laude. I also earned a 4.0 GPA while I got an MBA. I even surprised myself! I don't have much to show for all my education but I KNOW I DID IT! I loved every minute of college. I realized I love to learn. I believe that learning keeps my mind sharp and it keeps me young.
In the middle of all that came my grandchildren. Oh what an awesome, awesome gift and surprise my granddaughters are. I have 4 of them. Each of them are exquisite and beautiful jewels. They make my heart sing and keep me young. They bring me the greatest joy because I don't have to be anybody special with them. I just have to be me and love them. They have no idea the depth of love I have for them. I only hope that I am able to impart a tenth of the wisdom that my grandparents gave to me. How else will they survive in a world that I will never see?
When I was younger I had a plan for my life and I had an idea of where I should be at each stage in my head. Problem is I never planned past the age of 25... I really thought I'd never live past that. Yet here I am! OMFG! I AM 50!
I have a million thoughts running through my head. I have the shouldas. You know the ones that say you shoulda done this or you shoulda done that? Then there's the couldas. You know how those go...why was I so stupid? I coulda done this or I coulda done that? Last but not least the oughtas. I oughta be this or I oughta do that. I could write all these thoughts out but I'm sure that you know what they are.
There's a part of me that wants to panic because I think OMG I've lived most of my life. In the grand scheme of things I don't have much time left. I have so much more living to do. How am I going to cram it all into 20 or 30 years? I also think about the responsibility I have to my children and grandchildren. I think of all the things that I need to teach them. I think of all the things that my grandma taught me. Things that took her a lifetime to teach me. I hope I didn't get started too late.
I have more questions today than answers and I'm okay with that. See, I finally figured out I don't have to know everything. I just have to be open to God. I have to trust Him and follow the path where He leads even when the road is twisty-windy and I'm afraid. I have found some of the most beautiful gifts in the weirdest twists along the path in my life. I believe that's when God has taken my screw ups and made them into something awesome.
The last year and a half has been difficult yet good. I've done a lot of growing. I have ended some relationships and started new ones. The most important relationship I have started is one with myself. For the first time in my life I've lived alone. No man. No children. Just me. I think I finally figured out how to take care of myself. I finally understand what "I am responsible for my own happiness" means. Most of the time when I am unhappy it is because I am not being true to myself. I am busy trying to people please to make someone else happy at my own expense. As long as I stay true to who I really am, I am at peace within myself and I am happy.
God has blessed me with good friends and with people that I love with all my heart. I hope they are there in my future. Time will tell. A good friend of mine told me one time that it's okay to plan for the future just write it in pencil and carry a big eraser. Yet there are some people in my life that I want to write in with a sharpy marker so they will never leave. Like I said time will tell. ;-)
One last thought...I am a lot like my grandmother Lillian who is still living at over 90 years old. She is still very active and has her mind about her. She is a very fiesty, strong and independent woman. She told me that age is just a number. That if we think we're old we will act old no matter what our age is. I for one refuse to get old. I don't care what is socially acceptable or unacceptable for anybody at 50 years of age or older to do or not do. I am going to do whatever I want the way I want. If I want to dress crazy I'm going to dress crazy. If I want to do my hair weird I'm going to do my hair weird. If I wanna go dance in the street I'm going to go dance in the street. If you don't like it don't watch. I'm going to be like my grandma and I'm going to LIVE every moment I have left until the day I die. So if you're one of my intimate friends or family members, humor me, come along with me and enjoy the ride!