Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Debby Shulman — you make 50 look so damn easy. Beautiful, spunky, hilarious, smart, and an open book for our readers — we love you back here at the GIRLilla ranch. Wishing you a fabulous new decade with all the goodies: love, passion, fab health, professional success, inner peace, and freedom to be YOU. With Much Love, The GIRLilla Warfare Team.
By Debby Shulman
Hello 50. I see you staring me down as I make my ascent to where you stand. I have often thought about what you’ll feel like. Rumor has it that you’re easier than 40 and I’m going to bank on that. Forty was the dress rehearsal – now I’m ready for the Big League.
My daughter comments on what you’re doing to my body and to my face, but I ignore the gentle inquiries as to why my eyelids are wrinkly, and why don’t stretch marks ever go away? I roll my eyes when she questions my cleavage (which is “real and spectacular”) because it is all I have left. To keep them high enough to create that canyon of sexy, I must wear an orthopedic bra with more wire than a chain link fence … but when I do, 50, I forget that you’re here.
I miss 20’s body, 30’s energy, and 40’s endurance, but know that you bring a confidence and strength that could lift a car in a moment of desperation, stop a speeding school bus and raise a teenager without booze.
I am the better and stronger version of what lay dormant all these years, and the women in my life seem to be as well. We want our sons and daughters to see us as we are today: proud, strong, independent and wise. We want our sons and daughters to see the great things that come from working hard, taking risks and admitting mistakes. We want our sons and daughters to see that nothing comes to those who wait.
No longer caring what other people think, 50 remains my ticket to getting out of ‘giving a shit,’ a place I where I had spent way too many hours and energy.
Leaving is not but sweet sorrow, but rather, a fabulously cathartic exit from a place most of us have spent too much time. I wonder what would happen if we tried giving our teens a ticket to this miraculous, worry-free nirvana; perhaps FOMO would be replaced by a greater inner peace and calm. No longer chained to the constant demands placed upon us by those we should NOT care about, leaving the unnecessary emotional baggage of ‘giving a shit’ brings freedom to explore the stuff that means something to YOU.
Yes, 50 brings with it a bevy of cohorts that I will contend with: loss of hearing, bifocals, and a ferocious gravitational force I didn’t know existed until I discovered jeans with spandex. You can bring the wrinkles, bring the gray but how I handle those curve balls will set an example of how I want my own kids to see what aging gracefully looks like from the inside out.
My wisdom is earned from blood, vomit, broken bones and stitches, telling it like it is, without fear of retribution or being judged … dealing with bad late night phone calls and sleepless nights trying to figure out the solution to the problem THAT HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED YET. Horrible report cards, great report cards, and enduring unthinkable tragedies by watching my children lose friends and roommates. Those moments that make us stop in our tracks. They take our children’s innocence away and they wreak havoc with our own sense of how the world should look. Every parent, by the time they reach this treasured milestone, has had a breathless, sickening moment of ‘what if’ and it rocks us to the core, long after the lights are out and we hear the soft sound of heavy sleep.
But I have the utmost of respect for 50 because as I write this, I am well aware of how grateful I am.
There are people we have all loved who never had the chance to meet her. There are people we love, fighting for the chance to see her.
This age grants us membership into that period of time where we finally get to celebrate our teens as young adults and to take a deep breath knowing the overly demanding, physically challenging chapter of this beautiful journey has come to a close. We can mourn the loss of our 40’s but that stagnates all the good that 50 will bring.
Fifty offers empowered grace; this milestone is worth celebrating with the ones you love the deepest, the best, the most.
The peculiarity of the moment aside, it is a wonderful opportunity to take stock of what you have and remember the road that brought you to this remarkable place. Immensely grateful for the chance to laugh with my husband, eat up my children, embrace my parents, sister and brother and hold tight – really tight – to the women in my life who have served as sisters, mentors, cheerleaders, and therapists.
The next 50 will bring other stories that we will share together, but for now, it’s enough. It’s nice just to be here.
LB: Debby Shulman is a college essay consultant and academic tutor with a private practice in Northbrook, Illinois. She also professionally collaborates with Amy Simon College Consulting in Bannockburn, Illinois. Debby also blogs about Motherhood/Teen issues for Your Teen magazine (www.yourteenmag.com). Check out her valuable advice.