How Old Are You?


I had a wonderful week last week visiting St. George Island in Florida.  We did the typical beach things – built sand masterpieces (not castles, but mainly sea turtles and mermaids), jumped and dived in the waves, flew kites, walked to the lighthouse on the island, shopped a little (only a few stores), played board games, ate seafood and otherwise relaxed, rested and read a lot of books.   It was a much needed break and time to be together as a family.

It also gave me some time to look at the feelings I have been carrying around this school term.  I adore homeschooling, but I  have lately been more wanting more time to myself, .  I have vacillated between feeling a bit resentful of not having more time to myself and then thinking what would I  even do with this time –   a vocation?  a job? a midlife crisis? (Insert cheeky grin here).   I love homeschooling, adore it, but  often what I want is a few hours a day where I am not on call so to speak and can devote time to my own interests without any of the outside world intruding.  I have  also had this same conversation with many veteran homeschooling mothers, and I know many other homeschooling mothers feel this way (especially, it seems,  those of us in our mid-40s).

I wonder if this is partially just midlife – that strange time and feeling where you wonder is this what life is?  What different path would have taken me somewhere else?  Where is the future really headed?  In past generations, many women had children earlier and often their children were headed off to lives of their own by the time a woman hit her mid-40s.   At this point, a woman really had the time to re-discover herself.  My mother- in- law remarked to me awhile ago that most women in her generation hit menopause by their early 40’s (ie, when she was 40, many of her friends were already menopausal), another sign that life was taking a different turn than previously. Contrast that to this day and age when so many of us in our mid-40s are still in the trenches raising small children or even having babies.  So, part of me wonders if this is programmed from the past – this need to re-discover one’s self apart from children – and if we as a generation are not yet caught up yet  to the reality of having children later.   I feel for me as if these thoughts and feelings started with the seven year cycle that began around age 42, but now is in full swing at age 44.  I keep being drawn back to the words of Betty Staley’s book “Tapestries” about the years 42-49 here.  here..  I am even looking into the years ahead ahead.

Sometimes I also wonder if  this feeling of wanting more and needing to be alone something specific to homeschooling mothers?  We spend so much time and energy as a homeschooling family on our children (and hopefully on our spouses as well, but I guess that is a whole different post!); perhaps it is only natural after some time to feel or want a bit more for oneself.    I don’t feel like a “veteran” homeschooler by any means, but my oldest is in seventh grade and we have been at this for some time without any interruptions.  Perhaps this stage of homeschooling  just contributes to restlessness in general?

I don’t feel burned out or worn out, just thoughtful about the developmental process in adults.  Where are you, and just you alone, these days in your thoughts and feelings?  How old are you and do you think that plays into how you are feeling and what you are wanting at this point in your life?


22 thoughts on “How Old Are You?

  1. Interesting article, and I can identify with your feelings, but I think your MIL is mistaken about the age of menopause. The average age of menopause in this country is 51. Prior to the ready availability of birth control, most women had babies in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. They did not stop having them earlier than today. What is different is that many of us start later and have fewer children.

    • Janeen,
      I think she meant when she was 40 many of the women were experiencing menopause (back then, not now). I agree the age of menopause has gone up.

  2. Hello Carrie,

    I am completely with you in regards to this stage of life. I will be 43 soon and this kind of feeling started with me at around 41-42 as well. It must be midlife- “crisis”, I guess, add to that that in the past few years we have lost a family member every single year and you have a recipe for…. I think you can guess.
    What has helped me in regards to my age and my “life direction”, so to speak, is that I started a mothers group at my local church and I have had a good response from members, so I think that an “extracurricular activity”, that gives a sense of doing something worthwhile outside the family helps a lot. It is satisfying to see that I can help others outside the family as well and be there for others.
    I have not really thought about what will happen once the children are finished with school, we still have a few years to go, but I imagine I will work in a field related to the arts as that is the field that I have worked in before having children, or do something similar to the mothers group, but I do not tend to plan that far ahead, as one never knows where life will take us.

    Happy fall to and your family,


  3. Hello dear Carrie
    Last week I turned 43, and recently have been coming to feel that homeschooling is not the way forward for us any more. I too crave time to myself, and rarely have it, and when I do have so many things I want to complete in it that nothing gets done!
    Because I was 35 before having my first child, I had time to establish a successful career running my own design company. I also did a lot of my own art projects, and lots of self development – meditation retreats, yoga, dancing etc.
    Since having children I have let pretty much ALL of that go. It has been a huge shift for me.

    I think in previous generations women did not have the time or the luxury of being able to explore so much of themselves and what they bring to the world before becoming mothers, and also mothering and home-making was perhaps more highly regarded.

    The full time care of small children, alone, is overwhelming sometimes, and unnatural I think. We have all been separated and segregated into small individual consumer units, all in our separate houses with our separate fridges and washing machines. People have never lived like this before – there was always extended family close by, and before that the whole tribe for the children to bounce around and between and learn from – the myriad skills and ways.

    So because I have explored my creativity and been in charge of a business in the past, I find myself still endlessly busy making things, and making things happen. I know we need to do the things that feed our soul, so our children can feel inspired by that and feed their own souls too. But where to find the time to do that? When they are at (Steiner) school… I am now thinking.

    And then, sometimes in the evenings when I lay with each of them to sleep, it can take up to two or three hours! I lay there in the dark, sometimes getting frustrated… and then I think “where else would I rather be right now? I am cosyed up in bed with my two precious little girls, all soft and sweet and warm and snuggly, and providing that lovely feeling of rightness and security within them. What am I hurrying this to get to? Checking my emails? Really?!”

    Recently I managed to escape for an afternoon of dancing – out in the woods – and in the first five minutes of movement, coming back to myself, I received so much wisdom. A voice which actually told me that ‘my time alone will come again, and all too soon. I will be a greater, deeper, richer person in my next phase of solitude, for having raised a family. Enjoy what I have now’.

    So as you see, I am also wrestling with these ideas. Time for me, time for them. It’s really just a question of balance. How happy, relaxed and loving and willing to play I am, after an afternoon of dancing in the woods! Isn’t that a great thing to be teaching them?

    With love to you and yours,
    Red xx

  4. I feel this way often. I got a late start and had my son at almost 42; now i’m almost 52 and in the thick of perimenopause. As a friend said, this is a time when I just want to be on my own little island. I do get resentful and realize I need to make time for myself during the week. It’s tough with my husband’s work schedule and long commute. Having said all that, I am joining a singing group that will meet on Thurday nights!

  5. I’m 45, work full-time (university professor) and have a 7-year old in a Waldorf school. When I’m not working or taking care of house, husband, and son, I’m craving more time to myself, and by that, I do not mean time when I can get more work done, I mean time to go to yoga, read a book, take a shower, etc. So no, I don’t think it’s a home-schooling mother thing (although my hats of to all you moms who do it). Don’t know if it’s a mid-40’s female thing because when I was in my mid-30’s I didn’t have a kid and time alone was not an issue. When I’m in my mid-50’s my kid will be a teenager,…not quite sure what my life will be like then!

  6. I am 28 with three children, ages 5, 2 1/2 and a newborn baby. My five year old has really started reaching out to other children and I see he craves social time away from family, just an hour here or there. He thrives in his Godly Play class each Sunday at church. Seeing him explore areas of his life that are his own and are somewhat separate from our homeschool life encourages me to recreate and maintain a small space of my own, too. I crave that more when I see my son growing into his own space within his comfort zone. I can’t find much time for that space unless I go to bed late, but that always ends up causing burn out. Until now, I have always felt comfortable spending all of my days with the kids. I do crave time for crafting and gardening more though.

  7. I am a 47 yr old homeschooling mom and have been for the past 6 years. My oldest,13, is now in school (her choice) but, I have a 5 yr old and 10yr old at home. My school year has been much like yours. I feel a deep need to have more time to do my “stuff”. I feel a great amount of guilt that I want more and more time apart from my kids. I have continued to work part time while homeschooling and I am actively pursuing other work interests but, it feels like there is never enough time to work on my goals, my “other work”. I don’t want to put my boys in school aganist their wishes and aganist my heart but, it has crossed my mind. Right now I just cut myself alot of slack and take a long walk (alone) before my husband leaves for work each morning. I make the most of the time I do have and know that I will not be in this stage forever.

  8. Dear Carrie,
    I am a mother of three, in my mid-thirtees, and I think what you are adressing is a universal question for all mothers. So thank you for sharing, and being so open and honest about it.

    I am a full-time working mom, in the beginning of my carreer. And as the other full-time working mom above, I have the deepest respect for all home schooling moms out there. Because I am not sure I would have been able to do what you do.

    I have to admit that my work is my “space”, the place where I can focus on things that are important to me and develop myself. Still, our life is a big rush at times. Some days I am thinking that it is a too big rush for us, that maybe we should do something differently. I would have loved to spend more time with my children. I would have loved to have more time for myself. But also, I can not imagine giving up on my work.

    It is really hard to find the balance.

    What I think saves our family-life, though, is that my husband and I are quite equally involved in the family and organizing of the house. Mostly we are always together as a family when not working. But we try giving eachother the time and space each one needs. We still find our days to be busy, and I don’t think any of us feel we have the time or energy for anything else but family and jobs. But I guess it helps just being two people, feeling the same….

    What has also helped me in finding my balance as a mother, is your blog! Having followed it for some time now, your inspirational words of hope and faith in all moms out there have been truly helpful. Finding the inner hu-hum, remembering to be a patient, caring, calm mother…..It doesn’t matter how busy our lives are – we always have the time for a smile and a hug. Thank you so much!

  9. I love all the replies here (and love your blog!) – I waited a bit til i had a spare minute because i really felt that you were right where i am right now (even though not exactly bcz… you’ll see).

    I am 41. I have eight children, ages 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 2. My parents divorced two years ago, after 39 years of marriage and i’m now estranged from my sisters and my mom. It’s just difficult.

    So i’ve been wondering how much is the divorce, how much is the estrangement, which is partly due to the divorce, how much is being in my 40s, and how much is just that teaching six grades in one house everyday is just a little much?

    My oldest goes to a storefront school this year (most days) to get all of his credits with a teacher who is more capable of helping with math/science. But i’m still teaching grades 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, and have a little toddler running around (still nursing and in diapers!)

    I’ve been feeling the urge to put them all in school – we have no Waldorf school here but my husband is principal of a darling Christian school of choice – but the money for tuition and then the drive (at least an hour every day) made us pause.

    I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that i want – what do i need? Do i not love homeschooling any more? or has it simply just become this thing that i do – the way my day is structured, and i’m ready for a new structure? I’ve thought of going completely unschool – but that’s such an uncomfortable thought :)…

    It’s a restless feeling. I think if i am still feeling this unsettled, maybe i will send the middle children to Daddy’s school next year. The biggies don’t want to go to high school, but i feel like something has to give. I can either be a homeschool mom 100% and only just stay home OR i can drive teenagers to dance lessons and physio and doctor’s appointments and teach piano (to my own!). But i don’t feel like i can get it all done. Of course, i can – you know? We actually do have so much *time*. But what i want time for is more time outside on the farm – more hard physical work – more time to knit, to read, to create art with my 16 year old, to play video games with my 18 year old. I’m realizing how quickly these years are speeding past, and i don’t want to miss out on any of it.

    As i make dinner, i turn on a pot and jump on the piano and play some jazz, reminding my hands what they can do, keeping my brain limber – i feel like it would be easy at this stage to give up – to not try to find a group to fiddle with, to quit music and writing songs, to just pare down life to just three or four pursuits. But what kind of life is that?

    My friend says that in your 40s, you begin to “not put up with” things. You don’t buy that cheap nonstick skillet, because you know it will be in the garbage in six months, and darn it, you deserve something quality :)… Maybe that’s part of it. Trying to find the *perfect*, sacrifice worthy life and jettison everything else.

    If this is a stage, i hope it passes quickly :). Now i have to go reread that Passages post 🙂

    • Stephanie –
      I so identify with you and I really hear your story. Restless, and not putting up with things…yes, I so think that describes this phase. And perhaps the true, real understanding that life is rather fleeting…
      Hugs and love,

  10. This was a great post! I have been sitting with it for a few days. I have 5 children and my circumstances are a bit different in that my last two are from my second marriage and my husband of nearly 10 years is VERY supportive so I finally get to live my homeschooling to the fullest with a great guy to come play with us.

    I am 41. I had a stroke in April that changed my life. Since then my pull has been alone time with my husband. This is the first year that I am only homeschooling 2 (with a 3yo in tow) and it is very strange for me. I have found myself wanting Sam (8yo) to be more social with GOOD kids so we are enrolling him in a one day a week farm school. These are things that I likely wouldn’t have done with my older ones… but they are moving on and my goals are changing a bit. My brush with death has me looking at life with a different lens.

    Such a strange place sometimes. Wanting solitude but wanting peaceful company.

    I had my tubes tied in July. I came face to face with how I really felt about my fertility. I have five children. I really didn’t feel like there were more. My cardiologist was insisting on me doing it. Getting a permanent solution is a bit strange. Going into the hospital was a bit surreal. They tie your tubes in the same wing of the hospital that does planned c-sections. Hello??? Seriously? They need a completely separate place called the Sexual Freedom Clinic.

    Moving forward is awesome but sometimes very strange. I do find much comfort in my peers that are my age…there are so many things that we are just “over it” about. We have walked the walk and we know what is really important and it isn’t what we thought was at 24 or 36 or maybe even 38.

    Blessings to you all.

    Melisa Nielsen

  11. Carrie, I love this post it really spoke to me. I am 42, I homeschool my two children, and we live and work on a cattle ranch. I too am feeling this need… and find myself doing much spiritual searching. Through this I have found peace with a lot of the questions. The journey is always an interesting one. Thank you once again for such a wonderful post.

  12. Hi Carrie,
    I too can relate to what you and others have written here. My peri-menopause began around age 44, at least that’s when I suddenly noticed it. Now I understand why they call it “the change” because ageing is so subtle in your twenties and thirties then suddenly this begins and it is very noticeable, every little thing. Just like puberty/adolescence I am faced with a whole range of changes in my body and particularly my skin. I can’t help but think about my mortality. I am turning into an older woman with every day that passes.
    I have always loved to read and been a collector of books. Now I ask before I buy a new book: will I die before I have time to read this? because I have so many books as yet unread and I know how little time I have for any reading outside of homeschool-related things. I am starting to read one chapter then stop if a book isn’t REALLY (not shouting, just stressing) good, because life is just too short for anything less than great.
    I think: I just don’t want to do ANYTHING I don’t really want to do. I have such little time to myself to do things for my own pleasure anyway, what little time I do have I want to be meaningful to me. Before that didn’t matter as much because I had THE FUTURE, or so it seemed. Now I realise, deep down inside, I don’t know that for sure. I cannot squander my time anymore. I have to be present and make each moment count.
    I have this burning drive to get rid of my stuff, all the clutter, the hoarded clothes of different sizes (just incase) and even my beloved unread books. I want to simplify, simplify, simplify, so that I don’t have to waste time looking after “things” but can get on with living my life. Finally.
    I think this is a good thing. But it’s not an easy thing. I just have to breathe through my anxiety (when it surfaces – it comes and goes) and believe that everyone will be OK if I take this time for myself now.

  13. I’m 44 and am experiencing alot of the emotions you describe. I don’t know if it is the age or more burnout, probably a combination of both. I’ve had an extremely stressful past year (my husband’s unemployment and then a new job and cross country move), and while I held it together pretty well last year when the stress was happening, now that life is back to normal and we are settled in our new town and home, I’m struggling. I’m tired. I’m dealing with the loss of my family and all my support that I’m now 2500 miles away from. No homeschooling friends, not really any close friends at all so far. I lost most of my summer to the move, which means that I am not as well planned for this year as I would like to be and I’m spending hours play catch-up with lesson planning, which means I’m often not getting any breaks on weekends either. I have dreamed of sending my kids to school, and I keep having to remind myself that this is temporary. Just because I feel this way right now doesn’t mean I always will. But I sure could use an extended break. I got a book from the library and it’s bugging me that I don’t have time to read it. Sometimes I just wanna sit around all morning and read my book and do nothing else. I’ve especially been lamenting the loss of my skills in music. I have a master’s in music and long to be able to practice, but I do not have the time, nor do I have an instrument (I’m an organist) at my disposal right now. I want to cry when I think of the skills I have lost. I literally ache sometimes to be able to put the hours into my music that I could before I had children. Sometimes I do feel that homeschooling takes up almost every hour of my day and every ounce of my energy, and there is nothing left for anything else. And yet, I still get excited when I think about planning for the next year and all the wonderful things we will learn and do. So I know the spark is still there and I’m not ready to give up yet.

    • Lisa,
      Hugs and love. You have had a stressful year! And yes, I identify so much with what you wrote.
      Blessings, and if you would like, post your location and let’s see if we can find someone else in your area to connect with. Happy to throw it out on the Parenting Passageway Facebook page if that helps or interests you!

  14. Thanks Carrie! I live in DuBois, Pennsylvania. A state where there are at least six Waldorf schools, but still the closest one to me is 2.5 hours away. This part of PA (west central) is rural and the only homeschool group I’ve been able to find is an evangelical Christian one, which really does not appeal to me. I would love to connect with Waldorf friendly people, and so would my children.

  15. Pingback: Links and Other Thinks | Sure as the World

  16. Carissima, leggo solo ora i tuoi pensieri e li condivido pienamente. Non ho fatto homeschooling e mia figlia è grande, ora ho 49anni, vivo in Italia e già da quattro vivo le esigenze che descrivi, contraddizioni comprese. Il pensiero che ho avuto è di vivere il più possibile secondo le mie necessità oltre che per i bisogni della famiglia. Buona vita. Gloria : )

  17. love your blog. i’m 43 and have eight children, from my 20 year old down to his 3 year old sister. I had this talk with one of my besties a few years ago – she a few years older than me and the most hardworking woman i know (one of), working a lot of jobs to support her handicapped husband and with three of her four children also needing extra help. She told me that at 40, “good enough” just isn’t. It’s the age where you start to save up and buy quality. Where you aren’t satisfied as easily by cheap knockoffs. Where you need to finally get at that thing that you stashed away in the back of your personality, waiting for a rainy day that never comes when you have a houseful of little people. I, personally, am really thinking about these things lately. This summer i read an article about maternal depletion, and started a vitamin regimen to fill up on good vitamins/minerals that might have been depleted during 20 years of child bearing and nursing. This year started with three funerals for our family, and that makes you think about how much time you have left. I’m trying to get my house more in order (we bought this farm a few years ago, and i’m still adjusting to the work needed!) – and also realized that in addition to my awesome bullet journal, i want to start including at least one weekly musical challenge – to write a song based on a poem, or a person, or a painting, or a mathematical idea… I let that fit into the corner of “when i have time” and i don’t have time, unless i make time. I also got my husband to make a stand for my carding machine, and spent a happy Saturday with my girlies and one of their best friends, carding wool that’s waited all winter to be taken care of. I’ve always wanted to include Waldorf and Charlotte Mason ideas in my homeschool, and this year, i am. Not as perfectly as i want to, but enough to feed my soul. These are all good things.

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