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FAITH AT 50 (well almost 50)

Is age 50 Really the New 30?

Some people just are cholereas (an old Yiddish curse, look it up),

By Faith Kaplan February 10, 2011

I am approaching the milestone birthday where you are considered old by the young and young by the old.  It is the age against which all future aging is noted. “Oy! She got old” is not in reference to one’s 23 year self, it’s in reference to one’s 50 year self.

My first decade was spent exploring the world, and trying very hard to be “a good girl”.   I was able to gauge my success by the “go to your room/stand in the hall barometer”.  It was touch and go for awhile when my sister Dini was very young, but things improved when I started school.  My second decade was spent opposing the world in order to find my place in it. Success was defined by the number of apologies issued to and accepted from those around me.  Again spotty , depending on whether you ask my mother or my pal Nona. 

The real fun started in my 20's, a decade of self discovery, adventure, and empowerment. Success was measured in the ease of answering “what will you be when you graduate” and then “what do you do?”  And marriage at 23 was the biggest adventure of all! My 29th birthday was very traumatic, because I was not a doctor, lawyer or vice president at MTS. This was quite shocking based on teachers’ comments throughout elementary school (Faith is a conscientious student), the pride lavished on me by Baba Dolly, (who thought I was the cat’s meow), and the “you can be anything you want” message of my generation. We grew up knowing anything was possible because we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in school auditoriums around the world. Was I doomed to be that most shameful of all creatures by Hebrew school standards: an underachiever? 

Thankfully I was ripped out of my funk when Adam was born 10 days after my 29th birthday. My career aspirations fell to the wayside - ”work shmerk” - as I fell  madly in love all over again, this time with a very chubby and bald baby. Two years later, bliss repeated itself with another very chubby and bald baby. But it was hard work to be home full-time with a baby and a toddler, and I returned to work, first part-time then full-time. 

In the chaos that followed I spent my 30’s wondering who I was. Was I Adam and Yael’s mom? Hart’s wife?  Ad executive?  Daughter /  sister/ friend/ mahj girl/ community volunteer?  In trying to be all things to all people, my cheery demeanour buckled under generous helpings of crab apple pie. I was exhausted and unable to enjoy my life, trapped in a self pity party. Over the course of my 30s and into my 40s, I rejected the feminist mantra of my youth, and realized that I could have it all, but not at the same time. And that became my recommendation to younger working moms who were asking me for advice in trying to balance their multiple roles.

I am happy to report that the Linder-Kaplans survived the pandemonium of the past 15 years. Hart’s encouragement and support allowed me to move from employee  to  freelance marketer and  I was able to become a full time doting mom with a flexible work schedule.  I realized there is no such thing as an underachieving Jewish mother. I was able to come to adult terms with my parents because they survived, and I outgrew, my childish anger over their imperfections. It did help that I was the parent of teenagers and no one puts you in your place like your own kids. I also accepted that other peoples’ opinions of me were none of my business. Some people just are cholereas, (an old Yiddish curse, look it up), and that’s their problem. My friend Shelley recounts her Baba’s reminder that if everyone’s troubles were gift wrapped and put in a pile, and we could choose any package we wanted, we would all take our own troubles back.  Kenny Boyce’s dad used to say to someone who was angry with him: you can talk to me now or I can talk about you later.  Isn’t that brilliant? Being just this side of 50, these pithy statements remind me that I am now a grown woman in control of my life, which is filled with interesting people, and I can reject the tyranny of trying to please others.

So. With 50 looming, I promise to release myself from the burden of old insults and slights. I will purge my home of things that are ugly, lack utility and expose sloppy industrial design, like that crappy hand cranked meat grinder I asked for as last year’s birthday gift. What was I thinking? I will accept nature’s gifts that come with age, while keeping in mind Jack and Elaine Lalaine’s advice to use it or lose it. My eyesight is blurry enough for me to believe that my wrinkle cream is working, and my slight hearing loss generates outrageously funny conversations. Ken, my hairdresser, has solved the 35 year old question of my real hair colour. We have determined that blonde suits me best so my real colour doesn’t matter, and what kind of a maniac would call light brown ” mousy” anyway? I’ll tell you who.  Miss Clairol.  

50 is not the new 30, it’s 50. And that’s just fine.  I look forward to the next decade and hope it’s a continuation of these past couple of years: filled with wonderful and interesting people, travel adventures and good health.    Happy Milestone Birthday to my 1961 peers!


Editor's note: The Winnipeg Jewish Review is offering  for sale at a discounted price a gently used  hand cranked meat grinder. Contact us if interested.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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