I know there’s this thing about midlife women finally saying, “I don’t give a f*ck!” It speaks to how they no longer care what others think of them, or whether they measure up to society’s ideas of how they should be, act, live, work, mother, or look–and I’m definitely all for women opting out of society’s expectations for us that we didn’t ask for, thank you very much.
However, I’m noticing that for me, having just turned 50, the ongoing inquiry in my head is around what I care the most about. Instead of not giving a fu*k, what I’m finding is that I care more than ever–about certain things that are important to me.
For the record, I used to care about whether I was doing “enough” in just about all areas of life that matter to me–mothering, partnership, career, friendships, my overall wellbeing, my studies, the natural world, this planet and all its inhabitants. I’ve had to learn what is “enough” for me.
I found that I am, in fact, doing enough, and that is official–because I said so.
So then, what do I care about now? The answer is… SO SO MUCH. And more than ever before.
I care about how we treat each other, especially the people who are most important to us, because how we treat each other matters.
I care about how my own and other people’s partnerships are functioning, because high functioning and loving partnerships are foundational to the wellbeing of not only families but to society as a whole.
I care about how all of our kids are doing–like, really doing–inside themselves.
I care about women, their safety, well being, and I’m aware of how so much about the wellness of our world depends on women being well cared for, valued, heard, and respected.
I care about our ecosystem, and all the people and living beings that are not being looked out for, honored, and supported.
I care about our cultural evolution, and where this is all going.
I care about all the destruction and devastation I witness on so many levels.
I care about finding more alignment, authenticity, and truth in myself and within my own life.
This list is not exhaustive. In fact, what I care about continues to grow.
While “not giving a f*ck” makes sense at times. As we mature and grow, our discernment can really hone in on what matters most. Yet, at the end of the day, I think we need our midlife folks and elders to care more, not less. We need people to care about where this is all going. Our world needs our wisdom, love, and vision. Our engagement is needed. I imagine you can see that, too.
One last, but not least, thing to know:
For hundreds and thousands of years, women beyond childbearing ages were the highest functioning members of hunter-gatherer societies (see the work of evolutionary sociobiologist and author Sarah Bluffer Hrdy if you want to learn more). For most of our human evolution (95% of our time as humans on this planet!) elder women were essential to the survival and prospering of their communities. If you had a grandmother nearby, your chances of survival and your children’s survival dramatically increased. These women provided the most nutrition for their families and communities, worked the hardest physically, were the most active, provided essential childcare, and had the most to teach about how to survive and thrive in the difficult conditions they lived amidst.
In other words, we did not get this far by not giving a f*ck.
I like to think of those older women, my ancestors, hundreds and thousands of years strong, heading out every day to gather food and water for their daughters and grandchildren, their sons and nieces and nephews, their husbands and sisters. I think of those women spending hours digging, carrying, bonding, sharing, telling stories, laughing, crying, and gently, consistently persevering, returning each day with their bounty, or whatever they could gather. I think of their hard work to keep everyone alive and well.
And I plan to be one of them.