This was the first week of school in my town. I have two high schoolers, a sophomore and a senior. All of the sand in my motherhood hourglass has nearly been spent. The nest always empties, and mine will do just that sooner rather than later. I’m trying to think of this as a second start in life and that the “now what?” that I’m facing is a grand opportunity.
The problem is that we don’t think of 40’s and 50’s as being a fresh start. It’s a “you’re almost done” age. You’re a cake who’s been baked, mostly devoured, and you’re starting to get stale. (I feel like my icing sliding down and drooping. You?) I’ve started collecting stories of women who make something new of themselves after 50, 60, 70 years old. Judith Krantz, for one. According to her obituary (yikes! I’m taking inspiration from obituaries. Is that an old person thing?), she didn’t publish her first book until she was 50. “I was the world’s latest bloomer!” she said.
Still, youth has more than a few advantages. For one, the career world awaits them expectantly. Not so much for old moms. And youth comes packaged with a certainty of how the world works. Yes, it might be an ill-informed certainty. But that naiveté is a booster chair lifting us higher to our dreams. Also in youth, bodies work closer to optimal. Climb that mountain? Yes! Ford that stream? Bring it! There are no wrinkles to stare at endlessly in the mirror, there is no lifting the skin on your chest and wondering if your boobs were ever really that high. (They were never that high. Trust me. It’s simply not possible that they’ve fallen that far. They were always round about there. Give or take.)
It makes me want to write a romance about a middle-aged single mom…a paranormal romance, of course. (Do you think there’s a market for that?) Her house is empty of her kids because they’re all off to college and she walks to her mailbox to find a tuition bill. (Do tuition bills come in the mail? Maybe getting the bill in an email on her phone would be better…which she’s checking while she’s walking to her snail mailbox and finds the Sundance catalog in there, her favorite, full of stuff she can’t afford.) And then a moving van pulls up and it’s full of hot and hunky men, with slight shades of silver in their hair. They help move their friend, Most Smoldering Vampire of All, into the house across the street. And it turns out that the single mom, who’s still got it if you like soft hips, cratered thighs, and a well-honed will to endure, has latent magic powers. And Most Smoldering Vampire, who long ago identified her abilities, has just been waiting for her kids to move out and go to college so he can have wild, consensual sex with her, pleasure her madly, and activate her powers.
I firmly believe it’s never too late for a sexy ever after. And along that line, if you’re a diehard romance reader, I think you have to believe that it’s never too late for a “now what?” moment that leads to an ending as happy as the day your newborn was put in your arms.**
So today’s exercise is a fill in the blank question:
Now what? she thought. And she became a ______________. She was amazing at it! And to this day, she lives happily ever after in a nest perfectly feathered for herself.
**Was that day happy or just utterly exhausting and 110% bewildering? Maybe all three? One more than the others? But that’s a question for another day.