I’m lucky to know a variety of excellent women. It’s why I started MILK Podcast, for a chance to converse with and champion some of the passionate and fabulous ladies I come across.
Some of my most treasured women friends are ones I don’t see all that often: my gal pals from college, and they are a special little coven. We get together every few years for an unofficial reunion, and it is always the most replenishing and hilarious time. We drink wine, laugh constantly, tell stories about our kids and jobs, and of course, reminisce about who we were and what we wore while students at The University of Vermont. I always leave these weekends so inspired, so vibrant, with my heart so full. I remember things I had forgotten about younger versions of myself, and I’m moved by them, as if reconnecting with an old friend, and that friend is me.
These women: Heather, Whitney, Aimee, Danielle, Lisa and Cressida, are unconditional supports. We live in different locations (urban/suburban/country/east coast/west coast), and aren’t all in touch on the daily, but our choices and values overlap. We share honestly and vividly about our fears and accomplishments. In one breath we feel 19, and like we live on the same dorm hall getting ready to go see Phish play in our student center cafeteria (which we did). In the next we are aware of the responsibilities that challenge the free spirits we all once were (how many types of insurance can one person/family have, just for example).
I came upon this piece on “The New Mid Life Crisis, Why and How It’s Hitting Gen X Women,” while researching an interview that I’m recording tomorrow with it's author Ada Calhoun. She also wrote a crisp and entertaining book of essays called “Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give,” which I loved and highly recommend. This essay, however, is a bit bleak, -- full of research both scientific and anecdotal about why women in their forties, like me and my UVM girls, would or could be struggling physically and psychically in this mid life place. It is very much worth reading and discussing.
Coming off of this weekend, however, where Whitney hosted us one night in her cozy home, and planned our meals and thought of everything, I felt so loved and tended to. The second night we stayed in a hotel and met up some other college friends, and it was pure silliness and reconnecting with that fun time freedom we all took for granted in our college days. Meanwhile back at the ranch, our awesome partners tended to our kids.
Thinking back on our reunion and considering this piece today, I do not feel in crisis. Perhaps this is because I am privileged to have a partner who will watch my kids, and friends with the means to host a lovely dinner and split hotel rooms for a night. That is my pure luck in this life to be able to afford these luxuries.
But I wonder also if I am feeling less mid life crisis-y and more optimistic lately despite the constant drum of bad news and our dire seeming, violent world, because I’m feeling free to be myself, finally, at this mid life crisis prone age. Being with these old friends allows access to the previous selves inside of me that I’ve been able to embody or else retire. Conjuring them up is intense, but feels like a release when I can let them go.
“Self-care” is a phrase that annoys me for no good reason, but letting laughter and love wash over me, and spending face to face time with people dear to me, really felt that way. As moms, women, humans -- our many selves need care, and we deserve it.