When I woke up at 4:45 this morning, the first thought in my mind was: “I can’t wait until I get to go to sleep tonight.” I’m going to guess this is not an uncommon thought for many of us who are “in charge” of getting things done. When you’re young, you’ve got to got to school, maybe do some homework, and on occasion you’ve got soccer or lacrosse practice. Apart from the few daily chores you might have, you’re pretty much free to do with your time what you’d like. I sort of feel the same way about those who are retired: a few things on the perennial to-do list, but all in all, lots of free time.
Then there are those of us in the middle: too old to take considerable amounts of time out of our day to play and too young to have dinner at 4:30 and call it a night by 6:00.
(Side note: Please know that I am sure there are outliers on both ends of this spectrum who don’t fall into one of these two stereotypical categories. Bear in mind that the beauty of using these widely held, fixed descriptions is that, by definition, they are supposed to be an oversimplifications.)
So when I woke to the early morning light filtering through the trees and the chirping of birds (who I imagined were also thinking of getting back to their nighttime resting spots after their own busy days), I had the picture of today’s agenda in my mind: the colorful blocks on the calendar, most of which were green, indicating that I was answerable for them. At the top on nearly every hour, I had an assigned task and an hour to get that task done.
Ready, set, go.
While you might read this as a complaint, it is not. It is an observation about the obligations of midlife, expectations set forth in an agenda, and the feeling that it’s going to be a long day.
Would I trade it for four solid hours on the floor making a Lego town or four solid hours in the garden digging weeds? Probably not because I am obliged to get things done and expected to show up. Feeling needed by others is one of the better parts of being in the middle of life. I just wish it came with more time to sleep.