By This Time Next Year, Nothing Will be Different

Many years ago, when my husband and I were young and our relationship brand new, we spent an evening with some friends of his and their other guest.  The friends and the guest were all quite a bit older than we were.  The guest, a woman in her 40’s, had a young son.  She spent much of the time we were there saying things like, “something needs to change in my life.  I don’t know what it’s going to be, but by this time next year, something has to be different.”


Later, TGeek and I debriefed the party.  We rolled our eyes at that ridiculous woman who seemed to us to be refusing to deal with her own problems, whatever they were.  If she wanted something to change, why didn’t she just do it?  Couldn’t she just make it different in whatever way she wanted?  That’s what we would’ve done.  Does being middle-aged make you stupid and pathetic?


When you are so young that a year still seems like a long time and you have no kids and you don’t own much of anything and you have no responsibilities to or for anyone, you can change you life on a whim.  You can throw everything of value in the back of your car in the morning and be living in a different city by nightfall.  You can make bad choices and insane choices because you can afford to take the risk and you have all the time in the world to recover from any negative consequences that result.  When your life belongs to only you, you are never stuck. 


So I didn’t know, when I was young, just how stuck a person can be.  Being married makes you stuck; owning a house holds you firmly in place; having kids coats your feet in cement.  Spending your career-building years caring for kids instead of building your career adds two-ton weights to your already glued-down galoshes.  All of those possibilities that dangled about you in your youth, the ones you so carelessly brushed aside, are long gone.  The world narrows down to trivialities.  What will I make for dinner?  Are we running out of laundry detergent?


Yes, middle age does indeed make you stupid and pathetic.  Something has to change.




13 thoughts on “By This Time Next Year, Nothing Will be Different

  1. I really enjoy your writing. This was great. It is undeniably true that it is difficult to understand anyone until you’ve walked in their shoes. When you’re harried, time flies by and you become too tired to think. Fatigue makes you stupid. You become too tired to eat right, then you gain weight and you’re even more tired. Life becomes an avalanche.

  2. Next year, you’ll still be a good parent and you will provide what you have to provide for your family.  It’s the biggest, most thankless responsibility you choose to have and you’re stuck with it because you want to be a good parent.  It is all worth it.

  3. My husband is a merciless ridiculer of the elderly.  Don’t judge him…he means to be funny.  Plus he had some really nasty old people in his life when he was young.  Anyway he makes fun of their slowness and their grouchiness and their bewilderment in the face of the future.  It gives me that “goose just walked over your grave” feeling, or whatever it is.  It’s not even tempting fate because it’s INEVITABLE.

  4. When your life belongs to only you, you are never stuck.I identify with this totally. I feel the same way. Right now the only thing in life holding me back is not being able to drive my own car Great post!

  5. Things change when we pull maybe 10% out of that 100% we put in our grindstyle, and move that 10% into something worthwhile. Just 10%.Dinner, a couple nights, can be “refrigerator raider”, so that the game boards can get broken out, and the family can park their carcasses at the dining room table to play and to accidentally communicate along the way. “So, Jenn and I went to the mall, and Danny called me a fata$$, and I picked up this cuuuute sweater: what’cha think?” – she just clued you in on a harsh in her world, sandwiched between teen nonsense. Catch it.Share a meme with your teen son, no matter how dumb [like Do You Like Waffles, Red vs Blue, The GuildLolcats,etc.]Stop and smell the roses. Watch out for the pricks.You’re in a career – but you want for something different. Volunteer on a down day in a field or function outside your realm of experience. Take up an adult-ed class at the local college. Ask your supervisor if you can help with something a little extra – you might earn either a lateral promotion or a full department shift.You’re sick of pasta for dinner. Switch to long grain rice one night. Go small, grow tall. Heck, I’m 40 and I’m still in a constant search of misadventures. It’s all good.

  6. A year definitely flies by at this point in life. My infant is already 6 months old!  I remember as a kid hearing people making “5 year plans” or trying to get things done in 2 years and thinking, Two years, that’s FOREVER. And now it just flies by. Of course, time is relative – each year is an incrementally smaller percentage of your life so of course it seems to go by faster.  No worries, though, I think in a year you’ll still be rocking the casbah.  Whatever that is.

  7. MY, for such a good start, that hit the maudlin skids in a hurry, did it not?  Irony in use I am sure, and you don’t feel a word of it. Or maybe just  a twinge.   Above this screen right now is a small clipping which says “For the ignorant, old age is as winter; for the learned, it is a harvest. ”    May all your many remaining years be a bounteous harvest. Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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