A Middle-Aged Woman Laughs at Life–Sort of.
By:  Mary Fran Bontempo

Oh, the words I thought would describe my life! Glamour, travel, intrigue. The delusion of youth had me convinced my days would be full of wildly interesting choices offering me opportunities to work and study in all manner of intriguing locales. I’d spend my endless supply of time exploring the world, doing a job that would support me in the style to which I aspired—in other words, I’d be making big bucks. No ties would bind and a daily dose of high flying excitement would be the norm.

Do you know what word I aspire towards now? “Settled.”

That’s it. I want everyone in my life, especially me, settled.

In marked contrast with the other words I’d tagged for life, this one’s boring, dull. And at this point, it’s exactly what I need.

Dictionary.com offers a multitude of definitions for “settle,” but I’ve earmarked my favorites: “to place in a desired state or in order, to make stable” and my personal mantra: “to quiet, calm, or bring to rest.”

Here’s the scenario: three kids—two graduated from college, one in her second year. No careers as of yet, in fact, no full time jobs—remember, the economy’s on the skids.

One daughter preparing to move home from an apartment at college. One mom preparing to help her haul the requisite 85 loads of stuff from the apartment to the car, and then into her room at home, another 85 trips up and down stairs—170 in all, at least.

The second daughter currently living at home but contemplating a move to the Jersey shore for the summer. Her plans come September? Ummm…not sure yet. Perhaps moving back home, perhaps a move down south, somewhere warm—it’s always been a dream. The one given? There will be moving involved and mom will be helping.

A son ensconced non-too-happily at home after graduating college in 2007. Laid off from a full time job and working (again, none-too-happily) part time for his father. The boy is restless, frustrated anxious to move on with his life. His parents are too.

Add to the mix two middle-aged adults who can’t quite figure out how we got here and where we’re supposed to go next and you have a recipe for major angst—the kind of worry that sits like an overripe watermelon in your stomach every morning.

Glamour, travel, intrigue? I suppose there’s still plenty of that to speak of, if you consider shopping for supplies glamorous. I did make three trips to Target last week. Travel? Like I said, there’s moving in my future, although I only get to drag boxes from one place to another for the kids. I still have to go home at the day’s end. (And the house really needs a good cleaning.) But we’ve got intrigue by the boatload, especially if you’re intrigued by confusion, uncertainty and the unanswered question, “What do I do now?”, posed by the children and left unanswered by the parents. (Sorry, kids, we don’t know ourselves. We’re out of answers for you.)

What I wouldn’t give to be settled, to “place (things) in a desired state or in order” (my order, of course, that’s the point), to have life approach “stable” and “to quiet, calm or bring to rest” our daily commotion. I’d love to have all of the answers, for myself as well as my children.

And yes, there might still be room left over for some of that excitement, as long as it happens on the Discovery Channel and I can turn off the television set when I’ve had my fill. (Although frankly, I don’t think those Survivor Man types can hold a candle to the stuff we’ve encountered lately.)

But as for monikers for my day to day life? You can keep glamour, travel and intrigue. Offered a choice, I’ll take “settled” any time.

Have your own ideas about your life settling down?  Please share!  Below the blog entry, in red, you’ll see the word “comments.”  Click on it and tell us what you think!  (If you’ve never commented on a blog before, Google will ask you to sign up for a Google account.  Takes a minute, costs nothing and is a spam safeguard.  Go for it; we want to hear from you!)