Relationship 2.0 buzz – On dating, sexiness and motherhood

Friends working together We’ve rounded up a few of the comments from the website and Facebook, and here’s what women at forty are saying, and asking, about dating, sexiness and motherhood…

On dating:

OK, so is there a thin line between just friends and dating line at 40? Did it move from when we were in our 20s or 30s? There is this older guy who I enjoy spending time with – dinner, movies, chatting on the phone, etc. He insists that we’re not dating, but he won’t let 24 hours go by without “checking” in. Before you even ask, yes he’s the only guy that I’m spending time with (other guy friends don’t get 10% face time – mostly chat/email or cell buddies) and he says that he could never handle more than one female friend at a time. So back to what started this – just what crosses the line between just friends and dating?

Continue reading Relationship 2.0 buzz – On dating, sexiness and motherhood

Tricia Amiel: At the Midpoint

In keeping with this week’s reflective mood, today we share a poignant and moving post from Woman at Forty contributor Tricia Amiel. Tricia’s a teacher and a mother, and a few days ago she had a hysterectomy…

Me & Baby Chris It’s nearly the midpoint of my final year before turning forty.  Now, this great project has been interrupted by a strange loss.  To put it tritely, I’ve said good bye to a part of my person that has, in some ways, defined me, as a woman, a progenitor of life.  The first home to my children.  About four days ago, I had a hysterectomy.

Once the cervical biopsy came back negative, the rush of control I’d felt at making the decision to have a hysterectomy quickly crumbled, the pieces swirled and washed away in a flood of embarrassing emotional attachment; it was, and I’m still embarrassed to say it, as if I was turning my back on a friend.  Setting her aside because she was sick, and I just didn’t want to deal with her pain.  I questioned my motives, cried in my friends’ ears, and in my doctor’s office during our pre-op meeting.

It was easy enough to make peace with not having more children;  my only real loss was that I would never have the experience of telling a beloved husband or partner “I’m pregnant!” and having him say, “Oh, honey!”, gathering me up in his arms and treating me like someone so much more precious than any other, the mother of his child.  My pregnancies were not that way, or even close to it; in fact, the second one pretty much decided that my marriage was over…but so what?  I have wonderful children, and I started early; my older son a mere six days before my twenty-first birthday.  Too young for the hospital’s complimentary bottle of champagne, we celebrated over a steak dinner and ginger ale in champagne glasses, naively joyful, in spite of not having lived the aforementioned fantasy at the beginning.  I have been a mother my whole adult life, and coming to forty, single, I have no problem imagining a life that is about finishing up the job of motherhood and focusing on career, travel, relationships, selfhood.  Still, a part of me grieved over the loss of possibility; in my last love affair, there had been slight talk of a child.  It wasn’t going to be a choice anymore.

Worse than any of that though, was going through this process of making peace with my decision alone.  Alone is a word I use with some hesitation here because I don’t want to seem ungrateful to the friends who consoled me, comforted me, listened to me cry, kept checking on my emotional and physical well-being.  But I was confronted again by that lonely place that friendship cannot touch upon, the knowledge that you really can only ask so much of friends, who have their own lives and families to attend to.  They couldn’t be at my doctor appointments, or hold my hand late at night when my thoughts tortured me, when I worried and worried and worried about the management of my household, my students, my life, while I was in recovery.  And of course, my mother is gone from me.  But my friend, Lois, cried on the phone with me the day before my surgery because she couldn’t be there for me, knowing instinctively that I didn’t want to wake up and not see the face of someone who loved me.  I received message after message of love and well wishes, friends telling me that they were thinking of me, praying for me, pulling for me.  In the end, I was surrounded, engulfed by loving words and kind gestures of care, almost more than I could bear.

Four days ago, my friend, Angela, drove me to the hospital at 6:15 AM, and stayed with me, cracking jokes and making me laugh, until I was all decked out in my hair cap and surgery gown, a lovely lavender ensemble.  She took my picture.  She told me I’d be okay, and I believed her.  My doctor, ever cool and confident, talked with me, again running through the possibilities with my warm hand in her smooth, cool one.  She looked in my eyes, and I told her the thing that Angela had made me believe; I was okay.  “You’ve made some peace with this?” she asked.  I had.

I said good-bye to yet another piece of my old life, one that was causing so much pain and distress, inhibiting my well-being.  Inside of me, I imagine not an empty space from which something was lost, but room for my own growth. Here, at the midpoint, there has been no loss; just more room for more me.

Photo: I asked Tricia to send a photo along with this piece. She sent this beautiful picture of herself and her son, and these words – “I’m attaching a picture of myself at 21, a young mother with my then 5-month-old firstborn.  It seems appropriate since before all this, I thought I knew how very blessed I was to have had my sons; only now, the blessing is so much deeper, having said good-bye to that part of myself that made them possible…”

On Motherhood: My two cents and my last two eggs


Yesterday Rachel shared her views on motherhood. Today Grace offers her two cents, and her last two eggs…

Like Rachel, I’m heading down the road to forty, sans children. It’s interesting to note people’s reactions when they hear that I’m almost forty and have no kids. It ranges from complete surprise – I even had one clown ask me if I was sure I didn’t have any – to pity. I’ve actually seen the “bless her heart” look wash over people’s faces when I tell them I don’t have children. When I hit them with the next line “…and I’m not sure I want any” you could knock them over with a feather. I usually get that reaction from much older men (and some women) who can’t believe that I haven’t fulfilled the one thing they believe women were put on this earth to do. I can almost hear them saying “what a waste!”

I didn’t always hold the opinion that I’d never have kids. In fact as a teenager I did my senior service at Holy Name Hospital’s day care just so I could get the practice. As an adult, I’m the one rolling on the floor with the kids, playing silly games with them and generally having a ball. For a little while. After about the 23rd “do that again!” I’m good with the kid thing for about a month. When it occurred to me that with my own children it wouldn’t be that easy (or legal) to walk away, I started wondering if I was really cut out for this parenting thing. Then I got a dog and realized (to my own shame) that when he tailed me through the house from room to room and sat staring in my face blankly for hours, it kinda got on my nerves (yeah, just call me Oscar the Grouch.) With the dog, I’d throw a bone in the back yard, close the door behind him, get my freedom back for the next few hours and then be glad for his company again. Apparently you shouldn’t do that with small children.

At 39 1/2 I’ve become accustomed to being responsible for myself and myself alone. Some people say that’s selfish. I think it’s actually the opposite. I think being realistic about your age, your situation and circumstances, your strengths and weaknesses, despite the chorus of voices in society telling you that you should have a child, you should be married at your age, is actually a smart thing to do. I think, like Rachel does, that deciding not to have a child until or unless you meet a man who you know will make a great father, is a tough decision, but a wise one. I’ve always said, a man can be a lousy husband/boyfriend and still be a great father, but a bad father will never make a good husband or boyfriend. If he ignores, neglects, abuses or abandons his children, he’ll ignore, neglect, abuse and/or abandon his wife or girlfriend. Isn’t choosing your mate and the father of your children one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life? Why then should you rush to do it just because you’re almost forty?

I think I probably have a couple of good eggs left. Who knows, maybe I’ll meet someone who’ll change my point of view about having children before the expiration date runs out (tick tock). But as my dog sits staring in my face for the cazillionth time today, willing me to do some Jedi dog mind reading tricks and understand his every need and desire, I’m thinking… eh, not so much.

On Motherhood : Does the Bell Toll for Me?

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Today Rachel touches on a topic that’s on the minds of many women at forty – motherhood. If you’re forty or almost there, and you’re not a mom, then people either want to know what’s wrong with you, or they want to know what’s really wrong with you. It seems as though it’s impossible for some people to wrap their minds around women who either choose to wait for the right man with whom to have children or decide that having children isn’t for them.  Rachel helps shed some light on the thinking behind those choices…

I’m nearing forty and I am unmarried and without children. It seems that almost daily I read about a 50+ aged woman who is pregnant or recently gave birth or I see toddlers with parents who look old enough to be their grandparents—which means the parents have to be at least 70 because with Botox, Restalyne and plastic surgery being so popular, only homeless people and hippies look their age anymore, right?

I always wanted to have children. From the moment I got my “Baby Alive” doll, fed her and changed her diaper, I felt maternal pangs and knew that I wanted to be called “Mommy” when I grew up. I became the neighborhood babysitter by 10 or 11 years old. Yes, I know that is illegal today, but back then children were allowed to be mature and independent so I helped with homework, heated up dinner and put younger kids to bed while their parents were out, for about $4 per hour.

I’m a somewhat traditional person and I believe in the institution of marriage and the idea of a two-parent household. No matter how good-looking, charming or successful a suitor was, I was always more concerned with what type of husband and father he would be. While looks, common interests and shared musical tastes may have gotten us to the point where he popped the question and offered the ring, only knowing that he would be a loving and responsible parent could seal the deal. More than one engagement was called-off once I saw a fiancé interact with a child.

My biological clock was on snooze for many, many years because I simply did not feel that any man I met or dated would make a suitable father. I had an idea of how tall he should be and what sort of physique and profession he should have, etc, but most important to me was what values he would instill in our children and how he would treat us as his family. Would he put our well-being ahead of a new 60-inch television? Would he be patient and kind with a confused little person? Would he refrain from screaming and cursing at me during heated moments because he knew he was setting an example for his children?

Continue reading On Motherhood : Does the Bell Toll for Me?

Making time for everyone’s life but her own…

tanya f Alzheimer’s or CRS (Can’t Remember Sh*t)I don’t remember which one I suffer from???? That was the question Tanya asked herself after repeatedly forgetting appointments and double booking events. In the end she discovered it was CRS brought on by a life and day planner filled to overflowing with appointments and schedules for everyone but herself. She’d scheduled herself out of her own life. Today, Tanya talks about how she cured her CRS over a latte and a slice of cake…

I came to the conclusion several years ago that I would end up in a nursing home, babbling about the good old days.  I made my husband promise to wipe the drool from the corners of my mouth and make sure I didn’t look crazy.  I believed I was suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s because I was gradually losing my memory.  At first I blamed it on my pregnancy of my youngest daughter but that was 6 3/4 years ago and its gotten progressively worse.  I would forget my hair & nail appointments, forget to pickup dry cleaning, forget to make doctor’s appointments and call people.  Now, I know what you are thinking – WRITE IT DOWN, MAKE A LIST!  That’s the main problem –  I have always written everything down and plan my life with the Franklin Covey planning system that I have been using  since 1994.  I was only using it for work but about 4 years ago started using it for my personal affairs because  I had pissed many people off because of my forgetful ways.

In the last year it’s gotten so bad that I set reminders in my phone to alarm me every time I need to do something on my To Do list.  I said to myself “Self…you turned forty this year and you are falling apart.  You can’t remember sh*t (CRS).  Go get a CAT scan and see if you have early onset Alzheimer’s.  DONT FORGET!”  I went in for my annual checkup in April (which I almost forgot about but thank God they called me to confirm the day before) and explained my concerns to the doctor.  He asked my family history and ruled out Alzheimer’s.  He started asking me all sorts of silly questions and implied that I “needed to talk to someone.”  We all know what that means – it’s code for Rubber Room, Couch Time, Straight Jacket – the “other” doctor.  I guess I wasn’t getting the CAT scan.  He gave me the number to call and made me promise that I would (I did, but my fingers were crossed behind my back so it doesn’t count). Continue reading Making time for everyone’s life but her own…