All hail Betty White for having a shining career moment in her mid-80s. And a big round of applause to Louise Hay, the 81-year-old founder of the self-help movement, who just put out her first movie. And how about that Hazel Soares, 94, a recent graduate from Mills College with a degree in art history?
Ladies, you give me—and many mothers—hope. Why? Because you are vibrant, energizing role models for aging women who embody the phrase, "Eighty is the new 60!" (And if 80 is the new 60, that explains why I feel like a teenager some days.) But, more importantly for this mom, you are living proof that I can get back the decades I thought I lost to raising kids (like my 30s). Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Let's face it—motherhood, especially the early years, can be a complete time suck. I'm not saying it isn't fantastic and worth every lost job promotion, but there is a fair amount of setting aside plans, hopes and dreams to take your kids to the orthodontist. One day, you're pregnant; and a decade later, you wonder what happened to your graduate school plans or trip to India or corner office. If you're like me, you search your soul while folding the laundry, of course, and decide the trade-off is something that you have to accept.
'Cause every mom loves a touch of martyrdom.
Then, along comes octogenarian Betty hosting Saturday Night Live like nobody's business, and you realize that you can have your 30s back! Okay, so maybe you have to wait until you're 80, but who cares? I'll take 'em back whenever I can get 'em back. Hazel is a mother of six and grandmother or great-grandmother to 40. Upon her graduation, she explained, "It's taken me quite a long time because I've had a busy life."
Ain't that the truth, Hazel. We all have busy lives—that's the nature of being a mother. But what Betty, Louise and Hazel teach us is that even though our lives are busy, they don't have to be rushed. The opportunities that we thought had passed us by while standing on the sidelines of a youth sporting event may actually be decades ahead of us. We can enjoy now and we can enjoy later. What a huge relief—and inspiration!
One of the many truths about motherhood is that we can have it all, just not all at the same time. So moms, take your vitamins, eat well and get some sleep. You're going to need your energy—in a decade or two!
Do you think 80 is the new 60? Leave your comments below.
Lian Dolan is a mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter, writer and talk show host. She writes and talks about her adventures in modern motherhood for her website, ChaosChronicles.com, and her weekly podcast, The Chaos Chronicles.
Published on May 26, 2010