We Quit: The Great and Glorious Middle-Aged Mom Give-Up

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Let me set the scene.

You just paid $139 for a movie ticket and $876,000 on popcorn and Coke. No one told you? It’s second-mortgage night at the movies.

Whatever. You haven’t been to the movies since the first Harry Potter and this new release has garnered critical acclaim.

But the theater won’t turn the lights down. Someone finally gets up and storms out to tell the theater to turn them down. The lady in front of you will not stop asking her date “What’s gonna happen, now?” And the only sound you can hear is the loud rustling of candy paper and popcorn crunching as the man three rows over eats something other than Wanda’s casserole for the first time in seventy-two years.

“Not today,” you say to yourself, then you get up and walk out.

This is mothering in your mid-forties. No matter how much it cost, no matter how much you want it, if you can’t do it…you can’t do it. We all have our limits. We all have to pick our battles.

At some point, basic human survival has to count for SOMETHING.

I have been alive for forty-five years. I have kept other people alive. What more do you want from me?

There’s no more energy for asking for the lights to be turned down or annoyance at the loud-crunching man. Ten years ago, your righteous indignation would have grunted and eye-melted him straight into the carpet.

But now? There is minor annoyance, sure, but mostly you are just happy someone is enjoying something, anything, in this world.

“Poor thing. He probably has a condition,” you surmise. At 45 and beyond, everyone has a condition. Psychological or otherwise.

We are all afflicted, bless us.

Thirty-five-year-old mother of preschoolers would have glared him into another dimension.

Forty-five-year-old-beat-down and haggard mother of 384 children ranging in ages from five to fifteen will not ruin his sweet and savory moment.

I will not. I am a good person. Aware of conditions. I am not Satan.

You do question the price of the ticket and Coke, however, because it is a rite of middle-aged passage to literally question the price of everything. Gas. Lumber. Hair color. Milk. You don’t even buy lumber, but did you know the neighbors’ renovation ground to a halt, because…you guessed it…the price of lumber.

“Q-Tips went up twenty cents,” you mutter to yourself in CVS.

This is your life now, the unit price of a stick with wadded-up cotton on the end.

Here’s the secret sauce: you have no more flips to give.

Is it because we’re beaten down? Or because we’re wiser now? Maybe a synergetic combination of both.

Maybe it’s the failed marriages, relatives in rehab, the kids who come nevering like they’ve nevered before, the magically appearing hair on your chin, or some other stark reality of the mosh pit of adulting that causes us to give up.

PTA? Nope.

I’ve had too many years of therapy to emotionally relapse over Perfect Party Patricia. She’ll do a lovely job, I’m sure. Here’s my $25 check. Thanks, Patricia!

Mom jeans? Heck naw.

I faked it through my twenties in the busted can of biscuits disaster of those “Seven for All Who Are Size Kate Moss” jeans and found life and relief in my forties in J. Crew’s 10″
High-waisted “Hide These Three Babies Belly” jeans.

Mock our side parts all you want. We are Teflon against your judgment. This, by the way, is how moms get stuck in fashion time warps. At some point on the timeline, we collide with the trend that works for our bodies and stop there.

Move forward, others! Carry on with your bad “on-trend” frosted jeans. We (slow clap alleluia and eyes-closed nod) do not care. Thanks, J. Crew!

Cups falling out of the car in carline?

Hey Susan, I cannot be this gorgeous, make a yeah-you-right gumbo, AND keep my car clean. Pick one. Two on a good day. But in the multiple-choice of middle-aged Momhood, there is no “D. All of the Above”. Thanks, Botox and a mahogany roux!

We can’t do it anymore and are no longer going to kill ourselves to make it all happen.

The world will point out the messy car and say nothing of your amazing meal and warm hugs. Remember this and stop doing things for the world.

It isn’t that we don’t care about our children, families, or communities. It isn’t that we don’t understand that there are times and ways the school needs our help. I appreciate organization and functioning. I appreciate being clean and thoughtful.

But I also have finally understood that the world will create for you a never-ending list of unrealistic expectations, while simultaneously confusing you with a litany of contradictions.

At the end of the day, just do the best you can. Love your people in the way you know how.

And let the backseat carline cups fall where they may…


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Dana is a mother to Rowan (high school), Arden (middle school), and Pierson (preschool). Although she is an Arkansas native, she has been a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast, since age nine, when her mother moved to Destin; she’s been a Pensacola resident for the last 11 years. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. A degree in Journalism from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!) developed it further. In addition to writing, she loves photography, doodling, and painting. She is always up for a new adventure, especially in the great outdoors. She can’t live without Jesus, Diet Coke, funny memes, flair pens, or mascara, and loves personality tests (she’s a 1w9 and an I/ENFJ, ambivert). Her life is dictated by what she whispers to herself every morning, “You’ve only got this one precious life.”

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