One of the joys of being in my mid-thirties (listen, I’m going to skip over “late thirties” as a term I use in relation to my age, despite the fact that 37-almost-38 is decidedly “late thirties) is that I’m more willing to face up to certain truths and realities than I used to be.
I’ve read plenty of essays and books in which women come to this exact realization, and I never thought much about it, except to silently acknowledge that this was an “old person situation” but, you know, good for these middle aged women and their willingess to “accept themselves.”
God. What a jerk.
Because now – of course – I totally get it. While I wish I’d been someone who accepted themselves wholly as a teenager, I wasn’t. I mean, most of us weren’t. That’s the beauty of being a teenager: insecurity in the face of constant temptation. Good luck!
But now, as a more experienced individual in her mid-thirties, as a mom of three kids, and with much less time to fool myself, it’s simply easier to acknowledge who I am, and sometimes more importantly, who I am not going to be.
I’m not talking about major personality traits or beliefs; those have been pretty solid throughout the years. I mean the daily habits, likes and dislikes that make up my day-to-day.
I like yoga, for instance, but I’m not a someone who does yoga regularly and it’s better to just let that go and stop stressing myself out by questioning my dedication to this totally beneficial practice that I was never dedicated to in the first place.
There are lots of these.
I’m a morning person and, on the flip side, hate staying up late.
I have a much better day if I talk to someone – anybody – at least once, because I’m extroverted and don’t do well all holed up by myself.
And I like to drink coffee.
While I’m not a person who can drink coffee all day long, I like to have coffee in the morning and in the afternoon. This afternoon coffee, I have discovered, is the secret of life.
Ok. Perhaps that’s pushing it. But it is the secret of my life, or at least it’s the secret of my life as a 37-year-old who has three young children. The way I’d describe my physical state by the hour of their bedtime is, well, not awesome. Kind of like I’ve been given a pharmaceutical-grade sedative, and then handed a super complicated test with both physical and mental components and told I have to complete it before I can lie down.
Unless, you see, I have that afternoon coffee at exactly the right time.
The right time is important. I’m tempted to have it early, say 1 p.m., right after lunch, but then the effects don’t quite last long enough. Four p.m. or later and I might have a hard time falling asleep that night.
Three in the afternoon seems to be the sweet spot for a caffiene boost – my preferred version is an almond milk cappucino or a black espresso, depending on my mood – allowing me to settle into our evening without the dread that accompanies anticipating the toothbrushing routine on non-afternoon-coffee days.
I’ve digressed, but my point is that I used to want to be the kind of person who could rally more naturally, maybe with the yoga that I never did, or with an energizing snack of green tea and dried fruit. Ridiculous.
For me, it’s coffee, at least twice a day. I’ve finally escaped the urge to try and be more like friends who can’t have coffee late in the day, or get the jitters from just one cup. I love coffee, it’s a perfectly acceptable crutch for me at this point in my life and I don’t want to demonize something that I enjoy for no good reason, just like I don’t want to discount any of the details that make me who I am, no matter how inconsequential they are. I mean, that’s sort of the point. Part of the freedom that comes with being older is not spending energy worrying about things that aren’t worth it.
Not that I’m not going to worry about things that I shouldn’t worry about, of course. Because that’s part of who I am, too. Luckily my stress is easily resolved with a nice glass of wine, or by hashing it out with friends, two things I love. But not by taking a bath, which I very much like the idea of, but not the reality. The water is always too hot at first and then immediately too cold. No thank you. Life is way too short to live anything but your own personal truth.
This post was originally posted at caramcduna.com on 12/15/15.
Cara McDonough writes for several websites, newspapers and magazines about parenting, women’s issues and other subjects, and blogs about life in general at caramcduna.com. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut with her husband, three children and two dogs. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.