September 14, 2011

Old and Gray

Nearly every girl on earth pictures the beginning- the engagement ring, the wedding day, and the beautiful honeymoon. We daydream about it for years before. Most girls picture the middle, too- careers taking off, babies, houses. But the ending? I wonder how many women get that far.

I was making my way through unread posts on Google Reader months ago, when I came across something on a marriage blog that made me stop in my tracks. There it was- an unexpected question. "Where do you see yourself as a couple after the kids are grown up?"

No clue. None. I had never thought about it before. Not once.

Yes, really.

Shortly after that, I read an article in the local paper about a couple who had been married 70 years. Their engagement was matter-of-fact and simple. The woman was a stay at home mother to 9 children. After I read it, I could not stop thinking about them. What kinds of things had they gone through together? What were their triumphs and their heartaches? How many times had they thought about ending their relationship? What secrets did they hide from the rest of the world, or from their children? How did they make it through 70 years, or even 10 or 20?

What does love feel like as not just years, but decades pass?

I've envisioned five hundred different versions of the life in the next several years. Although the thought terrifies me, I've even imagined Amelia turning into a teenager. For the life of me, I cannot picture what happens to Sky and I afterwards. Although I'm hoping it involves big porches and creaking rocking chairs, and I wouldn't mind it including waves splashing onto a beach somewhere, I really feel like the future is such a big unknown. Directionless, maybe...or maybe I just don't have a good imagination anymore.

Have you ever thought about this? What do you picture?

22 kind comments from you:

Ashley D. said...

I think you are one of the only people who knows what I mean when I say that for some us, the future is just about getting through the present. Not necessarily surviving, but conquering the everyday unknown. I think once I get through that part then I'll be ready to focus on something farther ahead. Because right now, for me, the future is tomorrow. It's Friday. It's next Wednesday. It's about finding out how my marriage is growing in the here and now, before I can look down the road 20 years. Does this make sense?

Skinnie Piggie said...

Since I don't have kids yet, my world hasn't changed... my heart hasn't learned to love anyone else besides my husband (and family). The future is so unknown and with my current issue with anxiety I am trying to focus on the near future... planning for anything further than 3mo out is near impossible for me.

I read a book recently where one of the main characters was trying to find herself after being a stay-at-home mom... it was a good read, you might like it: "Maine" by J. Courtney Sullivan

Fran said...

I have a seriously hard time trying to imagine what my life will look like in 10 or 20 years. I know what I want to feel like but no idea what my life will look like. I don't know if that makes any sense...

Mama McD said...

I can see my husband and I old and gray surrounded by grand-children and great-grandchildren. It is one of our favorite things to daydream about together. Staying focused on the big picture helps us get through some of the short term challenges.

Thanks for including the article. My cousin and her family go to that parish. I'll have to pass it along to her. :)

Kaylee said...

I think about it a lot - maybe I am weird or maybe it was because we didn't really have any time together just the two of us before we were a couple (since we got preggo pretty early on in our relationship, before we were married) or maybe it's because I have all these dreams to go travel and do things that will have to wait until the babies are older and we have more moolah. It's not that I want the time to go faster or that I don't appreciate the NOW, because I do and I want to cherish these moments. But I do think about what we'll do when the kids are gone. Maybe I also want to make sure that we are still us and we still have a connection, that we are not built entirely on our kids, so that when they are gone, we still have our foundation. I see lots of fish in our future. Ok, I am now rambling...

Clearbluewater3 said...

I think about this a lot (not that I'm married or have any prospects or have kids) but mostly in the context of my parents. My dad worked a lot when I was growing up and wasn't around much and my mom's entire focus was me (i'm an only child) when I left for college and my dad retired my parents had a very rocky couple of years trying to figure out how to live together and not have a child to focus on. They still have trouble talking about things not surrounding parenting me (at 26). I don't want to become my parents who are good roommates but didn't necessarily cultivate their marriage enough while it was still young.

If that makes sense.

Jessica said...

I just love reading your blog. It always makes me think.

To be honest, I haven't really ever thought about the future other than husband and I still being married. Now that we have big decisions directly ahead of us, that is where my focus is at. I know now, thanks to your blog, I will be thinking about the distant future as well.

A Bee and A Dragonfly said...

I have always joked with my husband that he'll be the grumpy old man on the porch yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn. Who knows... maybe I'll soften him up by then. It's hard to imagine that far into the future, people change, so your plans and your dreams must adapt... I think that's the key.

annoyed army wife said...

We used to think and dream about what our life would be like when we retired surrounded by kids and grandkids, but once again we've realized those dreams might not be attainable. Normally, I don't try to plan the near future due tot he army, but now we're afraid to even dream about the future because it is so uncertain for us.

Mrs.B said...

I was never the little girl who dreamed of having her wedding.. In fact, I never thought I'd get married or have a family. But now that I do I picture me and my husband traveling the world when we are old.

Chantal said...

We've talked about life after the kids are living their own. We're thinking of lots of travel, of a nice house on a big property, and being there for our kids.

Paulena B. said...

I never thought of being married with children when I was younger. Actually I didn't want to get married and I didn't want kids. Boy was I wrong! I love being married I love having my son.
Occasionally, I find my self blurting out what I plan on my future to be like. Hubby can retire when he is in his mid 40s. He jokingly says he wants to be a WalMart greeter and he is going to save all the stickers for himself. Me on the other hand, I see us being us. Nothing more, nothing less. I think we will always live in our current home, raise our son, send him to college if he so desires, and have fun with each other. Travel a little, laugh a lot, and be happy most of all.

beka said...

hmmm, okay...
there are some things that you/someone else would imagine and i would never even think to imagine or plan for...
but i've definitely pictured how me and someone else might be as old people. still admiring the sunsets together, still drinking coffee, watching our kids find their way in life and love and enjoying the moment...
praying together, coming home from work to each other, making dinner {please? :)} together, washing dishes together....music and dancing....dinner and days with other couples and young people, learning about their lives and encouraging them in their lonely and hard relationship seasons.
i don't know.
that's just my imagination at 20 years old.

[gosh i love this post. and all the discussion in the comments too!]

Jessa said...

We already know we want to travel, probably by RV. Whether it will actually happens depends on life. We have a really great time when we actually get to be just the two of us (about every four months in our current situation). I try not to think my kids will grow up though. LOL I'm so not ready.

Michelle said...

I'm hoping that Dave and I will be that little old couple you see holding hands walking down the street. Right now it's so hard to imagine our children growing up and leaving the house!

Dani said...

This really made me think, I've never really thought past the idea of a wedding or a few years of marriage. I'm going to have to give this some thought and make sure boyfriend and I talk through these things before we get too ahead of ourselves.

Great post!

Erin said...

I have no idea what I will eat for lunch tomorrow, let alone where i will be next year... It's way to much for me to handle to try to think of my life with my husband in 20, 30, or even 70 years.

I live life day by day. I try to take each day as it comes and face the present. I'm a planner and a detail tracker by nature, so it's really important that I not get too far ahead of myself in so many ways. It tends to stress me out way too much.

But I have things I want out of life. I let those things guide me. Things I've always wanted to do or see. So, to an extent, I do think about it a little. I've always wanted to have enough property to have horses. How that fits into my life in 20 years with my husband, I have no clue, but I'm working on it. And the hubs is on board. :) I think those little goals and ideals are what help shape your life at that point.

But life is what happens while you are busy doing other things. :) So try to remember that today is what counts. Taking it step by step. The future will be what it is, but if we spend too much time focused on that, we will miss out on what is happening now.

Bonnie said...

Zack and I will probably still work after the kids are grown, but I'm looking forward to the days when it's just he and I at home... not that I want my kids to grow up any faster then what they are. I see us still in Washington, working as civilians on post or at least him working as a civilian off post and hopefully I will have a job as a counselor or guardian ad litem.

Mama McD said...

Well, I've got to say it is a good thing I read this post the other day because our life insurance agent dropped by yesterday for some long term planning!

vintch said...

crazy, yet in its own way beautiful, thought. i haven't thought about this too too much, but i have given lots of thought to the "other" grandparents, the parents of the person our one-day baby will one day marry. they'll sit in the pew across from us when our babies marry each other, and for the rest of our lives, our babies will travel back and forth between our houses for holiday. i wonder where they are, and if their baby is born yet, just waiting on mine to be.

The New "Normal" said...

It's funny that I read this today. As we were driving home from school, I happened to notice the cutest elderly couple walking out of a diner. As they were slowly walking, they were holding hands. And then he opened her cardoor for her and waited as she got in. It was so sweet and got me thinking about this very topic.
I've tried to think of how we will be after the kids grow up. It's scary at times, because sometimes I feel like our lives revolve around raising our kids - what will we do without that? Maybe we'll finally have time for each other to do some of the things we have always wanted to!
During the tough times, I have a hard time even imagining there is a future to be had. But I know that I want a future with him and there's nothing I won't do to get there.
Ahh, now you've really got me thinking! Dangerous! :)

____j said...

I honestly have never thought about it. I think about the future as in next year, or in a few years when we are ready for another baby. But I've never thought about 'us' when our kids move out. It's kind of scary to think about.

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