Yesterday I was lucky. I noticed in the nick of time that the theatre tickets were for a matinee not, in fact, for the evening show. We got there, breathless, and earned, as a bonus, an extra evening of family board games. So, yes, lucky.
But it does happen to me quite often these days. Something I am absolutely certain about turns out to be totally different. Bookings for the wrong day, appointments at the wrong office, wrong ingredients in the fridge, emails not sent, conversations either imagined or erased from memory. Just wrong, and inexplicable.
The first response (rage, obviously) is quickly stifled and replaced by a sort of ‘aren’t we just the cutest middle-aged women’ mirth – that’s both uniting and at the same time isolating. Gangs of the menopausal are delighted to out-klutz each other with tales of car keys in fridges, children forgotten at railway stations and turkeys un-ordered. Yes, it’s divine to know we aren’t alone in our incompetence. Who’s for another prosecco? Meanwhile, the usually younger hoards on the outside are peering in aghast. I know you are – that I can remember. ‘I will never, ever become that inefficient. I will not make mistakes. I’m a list-writing ninja and it’s impossible to cock things up like these old women do.’
There seems to be no doubt that something sciency happens that causes bluntness and forgetting. Hormones, blah blah. It also brings on a wave (or tsunami) of a strong emotion called fuckthisshit (FTS for short). FTS is really important and should never be ignored – consequences of repressed FTS can be catastrophic.
Anyhow, where was I? Oh yes. So, on the one hand, we have women who for decades have run their lives (and, crucially, those of everyone around them) with precision and accuracy, who now have to come to terms with the fact that they are no longer as good at this as they once were. (Or who are just as good but the effort of this drains the joy). And, on the other hand, a load of things that make this difficult – societal notions about women ‘
having organising it all’, people who have got used to having their lives organised and a whole boatload of bullshit about aging and what we must do about it.
Here’s what I think. Dropping these balls/plates/whatever is an inevitable consequence of having juggled/spun/whatever too many things for too long. We shouldn’t have been responsible for it all in the first place, and certainly not for so long.
Furthermore, it’s a signal that must not be ignored. It simply means that you need to put down as many of the things as you can why you rest (do something for yourself while you still can (and I don’t mean just give yourself permission for a 20-minute bubble bath)). It’s not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it’ll take huge resources of strength, fuelled by a massive surge of FTS, to figure out what you need to be doing with your precious energy in what can be the most powerful phase of your life.
It is not too late. Never too late. That is what the clatter of the dropped balls is telling you.
PS Apologies to anyone hoping for a load of laughs on the way to the ‘… and the avocado had been in my handbag all along’ punchline.
PPS Anyone know what a clanger is?