Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why There's Nothing Wrong With Missing Your Youth

by Amy Ruhlin
Lately, I've been missing things. I miss seeing my kids everyday and I miss my youth. I miss the bar that my husband and I went to every Friday night in our 20s, to eat thick burgers and drink cold beer. I miss being a teenager and listening to the Rolling Stones when Mick Jagger was 30-something. I miss being a driven graduate student. I miss being a young mother.
I looked up the word miss in the dictionary. I know it's a simple word. I know what it means. But I needed to see it in writing: miss; to feel regret or sadness at no longer being able to enjoy the presence of or at no longer being able to go to, do, or have.
That's how I've been feeling. And I've been wondering if that's okay. After all, I have no deceased loved ones to miss. I still have all of my body parts. My husband and I still love each other, most of the time, after 30 years. My kids are doing well, and I see them frequently. Plus, I'm a happy empty nester. I love my newfound freedom and I'm having a great time. I've embraced midlife. I've worked hard to let go, move on, reinvent, and joined the chorus of voices proclaiming, "thank god we are not clueless 20-somethings anymore."
I've been a good little midlifer. I've taken note of all the slogans: Don't look back. Don't live in the past. Move Forward. Appreciate what you have now. There's so much more to come. Aging is a privilege.
But still.
I miss places where I've lived. I miss the small, friendly town that I grew up in. I miss steamy nights in New Orleans when I was a college student. I miss the first house that my husband and I bought, with the solid oak doors that he painstakingly stained and installed in each bedroom.
I miss my daughter's crib and my son's tricycle. I miss watching my little girl's eyelids flutter, angel wings, as she slept through the night. I miss seeing my son running towards me, anticipation and joy on display just for me, as he got off of the yellow school bus each day.
I thought I had this midlife gig figured out.
But all of this missing. It has taken me by surprise.
But I've decided that it's part of the deal. I've decided that missing is appreciation. And gratitude. Even a prayer: thank you, thank you, thank you for all of that.
I've decided that in the midst of all of this busyness to embrace, reinvent and move on, I will also allow myself a simple, human experience. I'll give myself the space and time and quiet to miss things. Even though it makes my heart hurt. Even though I really just want to ignore it, pretend it's not there, and just get on with being 50 and fabulous.
I've decided that missing is important. It is the recognition of a life fully lived and a reminder to keep paying attention, to keep on keeping on, and to make these years count.
Because one day, when I am in the midst of the busyness of being a kick-ass 94-year-old, it is these days, these wonderful, rich, creative midlife days, that I will be missing.

21 comments:

  1. So well written and a feeling I certainly share. I have to remind myself often, too, when I'm surprised by what I miss that I'm lucky to have had the great experiences to look back on. That said, I guess we never get over the loss of something we loved, we just learn to accept and move forward.

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  2. Those things you miss now, Amy, will be such beautiful memories for you as you grow older, and they will be such memories in different ways for our children. Think of the memories from when you were a little girl...read things on facebook from

    "if you grew up in Morganton".

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  3. Brought tears to my eyes...and a smile to my face. Lovely.

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  4. One thing that they don't tell you in the Mid-Life guides is that looking back is the only way you can see (and appreciate) how far you've come.

    It's not that you want to have teenage angst again, or the complete lack of sleep associated with both grad school and new parenting. What you are doing is appreciating the memories. Even back at those ages you grew sad and took comfort in how you wanted to remember things were before.

    Good for you for allowing yourself to experience these emotions. They will pass - as they always have. Enjoy your trip through your memories.

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  5. Oh Amy, what a wonderful, wonderful post. I really enjoyed it- and I relate. I miss my days of attending Open Houses at my kids school now that they are long gone which is funny. I mean really, did I appreciate them when I had them? This and and so many other little things that made up my life. But you're right....it's part of experiencing the love you had for those things. Excellent post- it warmed my heart! Virginia- FirstClassWoman (I don't know how to let you know who commented :D)

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  6. I love this, Amy. It so resonates with me. We are fortunate to be able to look back at the wonders of our lives and be grateful, but at the same time, miss them.

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  7. I so appreciate SOMEONE saying this. I'm feeling the same way. Nice to meet you. Let's be friends.

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  8. I completely agree with you about "missing" being an indication of a life well-lived. I, too, miss. And I like living back there at times. My blog post today about old family pictures relates a bit to that. In that I miss having a normal family. LOL But then again, I never had one. But I do miss some things about the past, like you. Nostalgia's a good word, by the way.
    Carol
    www.carolcassara.com

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  9. I've been feeling this a lot lately too. A few weeks ago was the anniversary of my father and grandmother's death, and it made me miss, not just them, but so much more. The privilege of getting older brings with it the challenge of leaving so much behind.

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  10. Thank you for this. I too have been missing these same exact things a lot lately too. I am heartened to know someone else if feeling it, pushing through it too. I am thankful for the end where you suggest we stay in these moment now and appreciate them because we will be missing them later in life too.

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  11. Wonderful and says what so many of us feel. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. So beautifully stated and considered.
    Julie * therealjule

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  13. I love this, Amy, and this puts "missing" into a whole different category, when you write: "I've decided that missing is appreciation. And gratitude."

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  14. I used to wonder what "nostalgic" felt like. Now I understand. Well said, Amy.

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  15. It just has hit me recently that my daughter will probably be living far away this time next year when she graduates fro LSU this spring. She doesn't live with me but is just a drive across town. It had made me call her more often and want to carve out time to be with her. I find myself missing her and she's not even left.

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  16. I think that when we are at a crossroad in our lives, we reexamine our past to find those things that worked for us over time. The memories you are talking about are the very ones I hold close when I fall asleep or feel anxious. You are missing all the right things.

    God bless.

    b+

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  17. Very well written. I think that we all at some point get "nostalgic". I almost think that it makes us appreciate where we have been so we can move forward. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. I think "missing" is different from "longing." While longing is that painful feeling of wanting the past to still be here..missing is more of a feeling of nostalgia that is kind of bittersweet but more sweet than bitter. In a way I don't want to go back to the old days...since I remember that they were not all rosy....on the other hand I do have fond memories that I feel can never be replicated...time moves on. Thanks for getting me to think about this. Love this topic...

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  19. I think that missing is healthy -- and natural, but longing can be painful. I've felt longing at times when I recall certain happy and uncomplicated times of the old days...but I feel more of a comfortable kind of missing when I recall times that were not exactly rosy...not sure I want to back there..reminds of that play "Our Town" - we'd go back in time and we would not like what we see...

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  20. I wouldn't sell my sack of memories for all the tea in China.

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