Mid-Life Fantasies (& Stop Signs)

Today, I caught myself in what must be a “mid-life” moment.

It’s hard for me to accept that I’m old enough or pathetic enough to fit this stereotype, but there I was chauffeuring my kids around town, while daydreaming about my neighbor.

The crazy thing is that I’m not particularly attracted to the guy; I’m just bored and forty– wiped out from a decade of mothering and the complacency of a stable, happy marriage (not to mention wide hormonal fluctuations.)

Why is that man holding up a stop sign, Mommy?”

An inquiry from the back seat puts me behind the wheel of the mini-van again. I press on the brake while internally chastising myself for the whole imagined affair.

How did I become so cliché? I can’t be one of those desperate housewives having mid-life fantasies (it’s bad enough that I AM a housewife.) I used to be so cool, so original. I went to college in London, backpacked through Europe, ran a restaurant at twenty. What’s happened?

It’s a rainy day and a Monday at that, so the boys and I have head out early for our “Mommy and Me” dance class downtown. I’d been waiting for years for my youngest to be old enough to enroll in this highlight of the parental week. Stopping for the road crew in West Brattleboro ate up some of the extra time so I didn’t even complain when a utility truck passed us, knocking over a traffic cone, and delaying our passage even further.

The construction worker holding up the sign in question assessed the situation without a moment’s hesitation– jogged across the wet road to the fallen cone, kicked it into the air, and with one fell swoop of his work boot, set it back into place. Just like that!

What style! I thought, as he returned to his post. What self-assuredness! Before he could turn his sign to “Slow,” I was off on another fantasy, hoping that as I drove past, there was actually a decent looking younger man under all that bright yellow gear.

Mommy, why did that man kick the cone in the air?” comes the question from the backseat, derailing another imaginary affair.

Although I truly adore my husband, what I miss most in him is the type of competency and confidence At every turn, I am greeted by his fumbling… buying a used lawnmower that only works once; taken by surprise by meetings, appointments, and events that he writes on little pieces of paper and never looks at again; unable to open the refrigerator and come up with something for dinner– beyond ordering pizza.

I know that I should be perfectly pleased with a man who loves me and who helps with the kids and the home, but I still want the cool, smooth stuff. Is that too much to ask– at my age?

When I really think about it, I used to see my husband like that, only he wasn’t a husband or father then, he was just a guy, like the cone kicker.

I can picture him the morning he arrived at the staff orientation, almost eighteen years ago, and smiled at me, his new boss, across the span of a banquet table filled with new waiters and waitresses.

How he, just shy of twenty, carefully balanced confidence with humility, charm with sincerity, flirtation with tenderness– and thus was the first, in a long line of hopefuls, who knew how to take on my fierce independence– allowing the little girl inside to soak up his love and attention.

Only last night, with a child wedged between us, my cool guy brushed his clunky foot against my shin in a romantic goodnight gesture gone awry– scratching my knee with his jagged toe nail in the process.

Yuck!” I thought. “Disgusting!” and as I turned away to drift off to sleep, I knew it was definitely over.  In one fell swoop of neglected hygiene, I wanted to wash my hands of him forever.

In the morning, when I awoke to a fresh cup of mint tea and his goodbye kiss, I was a bit more rational. I remembered our days in the restaurant, how he carried a tray full of drinks with ease, and how he handled all of his customers (and now me and the kids) with such kindness and flair.

I think I’ll try plugging him into my fantasies today.

(Want to read more honest writing on the topic of marriage? Head to the Marriage Journey, my new blog that travels  from “I do” to “ever after.” )

A Budget Affair

I’m in love with my budget. That’s right, my budget!

I remember the first time we met each other- and I flatly REJECTED him!
A young teaching colleague of mine in New Jersey (who I was supposed to be “mentoring”) often made reference to her “budget” when she talked about the land she purchased with her fiance and the home they planned to build. In her early twenties, Tammy’s self-discipline was impressive, but it wasn’t for me. I was of the “never grow up” camp and wanted to avoid all the pitfalls of adulthood for as long as I could: marriage, credit cards, mortgages et al. As a workaholic, there was always enough money for the essentials with an occasional surplus to support my wanderlust- three backpacking trips through Europe by the age of 26.

As I approached thirty however, an irrational desire to procreate took over. I soon found myself transformed into a stay-at-home mom dependent on my spouse’s first year VT teaching salary. I had to learn how to budget or else! I kept track of all our expenses (I had seen others do that and thought them neurotic), cut out ALL our non-essentials (ouch!) and made it through that first year without credit cards. I was so proud- and depleted. The next handful of years found us rebounding into a financial free fall, with credit card balances close to $10,000- on two different occasions. With my husband in graduate school, the birth of our second child, the death of a parent and the high cost of a larger rental, we hit bottom. It was an “ouch” that HURT for a long, long time until I shifted my thinking.

In order to claim the freedom I wanted to experience around money, I had to let go of the victim mentality and the sense of entitlement. I had to stop seeing the budget as an enemy and empower it as a provider. Our relationship matured as I aligned my income and spending with my intentions. Mentally, I set the debt aside and recommitted to living within our means.

That was almost a decade ago and since then our evolving and beloved BUDGET (it deserves capitals) has taken us from renting to building to owning to navigating our way through two rounds of extended unemployment. No matter what the financial situation, the budget is my friend. I might not always like what it tells me, but I always appreciate the peace of mind that comes from honesty and clarity. Over time, we’ve grown more flexible with each other, able to inhale or exhale more seamlessly along with the tides of life.

As a lifelong learner, my passion for understanding is never satiated. I continue to explore and grow. As an educator, I love to share what I’m learning along the way. As a coach, I thrive on supporting others in their own journey toward greater freedom and peace- in all aspects of living.

If your current desire intersects with my own passion, let’s come together. For $150, I’m offering a three-part “budget affair” package- up to 5 hours of focused attention- tailored to your needs and expression. Whether young or old, “rich” or “poor”, we can take a look at where you are and where you want to be- and begin to mesh the two with powerfully aligned, concrete actions. A phone or email consultation is offered free of charge. A single session (of up to an hour and a half) is offered at $75 to jump start your own process.

Internet, phone or in person contracts available.
Complimentary phone/email consultation at (802) 254-7724

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