It’s Time for a Nap

At lunch the other day with two of my oldest (not OLDEST) friends, one of them asked:

“Are there ever days you don’t think you can get out of bed?”

Well, yes. Yes there are.  There are also days when I just don’t WANT to get out of bed – and therein lies the problem. Not just for me but, it seems, for all 3 of us at lunch that day. And I’ll bet for a lot of you too.

We all feel guilty.

There we were, three 50-something women, all of us with jobs, busy lives, lots of responsibilities. We are all, in some ways, working harder than we did when we were raising our children. And yet, we feel guilty for occasionally not getting dressed until noon.

I have struggled with this ever since my youngest left for college, nearly 5 years ago.

Why am I so tired?

Forget the fact that I work long hours 5-6 days a week. Forget the fact that I’m still doing 75% of the “domestic” work that I was doing before my empty nest (thank you, dear husband, for doing so much of the grocery shopping!). Forget the fact that my grown children occasionally need me and can sometimes still send me into a storm of worry and anxiety.  Forget the fact that sitting is the new smoking, or that Mad Men is ending this year. Forget the fact that ISIS is trying to take over the world, or that anti-Semitic acts are more prevalent than they’ve been since World War II.

Not to mention peri or full menopause. Because I’m still not sure where I am on that continuum.

The fact is, I’m on the verge of getting old.

And so are my friends, the ones who are tired too.

“Psshh,” you might be saying – especially if you’re older than I am (I’m 54). You’re still YOUNG!

No, not really.

Back in the day, when our grandmothers were 50-something, many of them were taking it easy. Some of them weren’t, but a lot of them were. They had done their jobs – raised their kids, supported their husbands, cared for older family members. Some of them even worked outside of the home. But by the time they were 50-something, they were slacking off a bit. And rightly so.

Getting older is a little bit hard. Sometimes a lot. No matter what we do, whether we want to or not, we’re slowing down. If we’re not slowing down, we’re working much, much harder at keeping ourselves going than we did, back in the dayAdd to that this hazy, continuous guilt that so many women (sorry, this doesn’t seem to happen to men) feel when we can’t keep up – or don’t want to – and it’s even more exhausting.

On top of that, we’re supposed to try to look as young as we can, but not too young. Is there a store for that? “Forever Not 21 But Not Old Either?”

The other night, while we were out to dinner, my husband suggested that we make plans a few times during the week (not on the weekend, we’ve got that covered most of the time) to go to dinner with other people. Nothing major, just grab a bite somewhere nearby, because, well, sometimes – not often – but sometimes, he gets a little…ummm…bored during the week in the evenings. This, from a man who gets up every morning at 6 am to swim for an hour, then works until 6 pm. Trust me, he’s tired too.

I get up at 6 am also, but I’m not swimming for an hour. I’m downing coffee, reading emails and checking in on social media.

Bored??? With me??? How is that possible? I’ll tell you how it’s possible. Because by 7 pm, I’m pretty much done. I may have a few entertaining quips to toss his way during Extra or even The Daily Show (which we’re watching on our DVR from the night before – because we’re too tired to stay up that late), but I’m sorry, dear husband, I am just plain tuckered out.

When I told my friends this at lunch – the same lunch when we talked about being tired – they laughed. A lot. They feel the same way I do. Sure, every once in a while, it’s fun to do something more interesting for dinner than a turkey sandwich at the deli, but most of the time – nope.

We are all a bit worn out. Not just my friends and me, but women everywhere. Maybe all we need is a cookie and a glass of milk and a nap, and someone to tuck us in.

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  • I feel you, sister..I so much do. I’m tired most of the time. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t tired. I don’t feel guilty about laying around on the weekends, though. Last Saturday, I never got out of my pajamas. It was glorious.

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I’m working on letting go of that guilt. It can be hard because I have a husband who never stops moving.

  • Oh yeah, I’m right there with you. My “baby’ brother (50ish) said it in a way that really resonated with me, he said, he’s “just running out of gas.” I feel the same way 🙂

  • I couldn’t agree more. Weeknights in particular are so hard. All I want to do is get in my sweats, curl up in bed and watch the shows I’ve Tivo’d (Downton, Scandal, old Law & Order SVU’s). I’m a morning person but even in the mornings these days I’m D-R-A-G-G-I-N-G…

  • I nap almost every day at 2, and although it’s because of my health situation it’s also because I’m 56 and I rise almost every day around 5AM! No laps for me though….:-)

    Bette Davis famously had a pillow on a couch in her home that read OLD AGE IS NOT FOR SISSIES. I believe her.

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I nap around then every day too! I’ve always been a napper, and even that makes me feel guilty…oy vey.

  • Ha, I like to be in my bed around 8 to watch a little TV. I usually fall asleep before the show ends. Lol. I do try to get together with different girlfriends about once a week after work for drinks or dinner so I can stay in touch. But I really don’t like to have too many social events during the work week….even two is sometimes too much. I don’t think it is just physical tiredness….I think sometimes it is the mental tiredness…..ya know what I mean?

  • Helene Cohen Bludman

    Well, good to know it’s not just me. Or us. Meaning my husband and me. It is embarrassing how early we go to bed.

  • I try to nap daily, too. I know that writing isn’t physically strenuous, but it is mentally draining to be “on” all the time. Well, anyway, that’s my excuse for being tired!! 🙂

  • Made me feel tired just reading this! I’ve never been a morning person, but have definitely become even slower at getting going at the start of the day. I can still manage to keep going till midnight though – but maybe that’ll change over the next few years as I enter my 50s (big 5-0 is this weekend!!). One thing I have got better at is not feeling guilty about lounging in bed till late on a Saturday or Sunday morning – ahem, afternoon.

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I rarely see midnight – even on the weekends! Have a very happy birthday – welcome to the club 🙂

  • Oh, heck yes. The fatigue, the guilt about it. Sometimes when I say “I got nothing done today,” and then list what I actually did get done, I see that my idea of nothing really is SOMETHING: laundry, cat care, tidying up, bills paid, working outside the home M-F, and hey– I flossed my teeth! Thanks for letting me feel less alone in my tiredness. That alone has perked me up!

  • Slowing down and taking it easy…What is that? But I do have to say, I try most afternoons to take a short nap. It does wonders!

  • Oh my gosh I’m so glad you wrote about this. I always feel guilty for being tired and then I think to myself, hey girl, you are no spring chicken! It’s nice to know others feel this way too!

  • Hell I wake up tired anymore. I get up at 4 am and by 8pm I’m done and then I start all over the same way again. I would love to sleep in just one day, but my body has turned against me and sided with the alarm clock. Even when it’s not on I still wake up at the same time. We DVR every show we watch because we barely make it to 7 anymore. Everything we watch is from the day before!

  • Ellen

    I just turned 60 and am retired so I can do or not do anything I want. I feel guilty if I have spent several hours reading or knitting. It doesn’t help when the media shows people at 70 and 80 years old climbing mountains, starting second or third careers and looking really fabulous while doing it!

  • I’m with ya! I’m far busier (and more tired) than I was when I had three kids in the house and a full-time job. My husband tells me daily, “Take a nap, if you get a chance.” HA! Fat chance… and I’d feel too guilty even if I did have the chance.

    I feel better knowing it’s not just me. I’d feel even better if I knew what the heck is wrong with us all!!

  • You do much for Midlife Blvd and we are all grateful. But Sharon, sometimes it’s wise to pick an hour, a day or even more time than that and just indulge in something that’s just for you. When you look at the years behind you and all that you have done, it’s so reasonable to give yourself some downtime.

    I do that with my reading and often with my writing. It’s just for me! Great post, Beth

  • Mary

    Amen, sister. I raised three kids as a single mom, took college classes to get my degree while working, and dealt with a whole host of cr*p while the kids were young, but now that they’re all gone and it’s just me and the cats, it ALL falls on my shoulders. No divvying up chores–if the trash needs to be emptied, it’s me. Dishwasher unloaded? My job. Laundry folded? In a minute. It’s never ending. Having the kids at home meant more stuff to do sometimes, but it also meant extra hands to help (especially as they got older).

    Not that I’m not grateful that they’re all independent adults now–goodness, I’m VERY grateful–but, dang, this can be a lot by myself.

  • Hi Sharon! This is a brilliant and multi-layed post. I know you’ve touched on something that is much much deeper than just feeling “tired”. It’s not just giving ourselves permission to slow down and “feel” tired when we want and need to….but the BIG question is why we are doing that to ourselves to begin with? A huge WHY is so very important and is giving me all sorts of ideas 🙂 Thanks for jiggling the brain today! ~Kathy

    • Sharon Greenthal

      So glad I inspired you. And yes there’s so much more to it than just being tired. We are wearing ourselves out.

  • I hear you Sharon! I don’t nap but I need at least 8 hours of sleep. When I hear about people, and I know some, who only need 5-6 hours of sleep I feel guilty for a minute but I need my sleep and if it means I go to bed at 9 so be it. I do worry because I can’t seem to stay awake for an 8 o’clock play or performance and matinees are becoming my friend. Dinner at 8, I think not!

  • Sharon, as usual, your post is hysterical….and very true! I related to all of it. My girlfriend (my “oldest” one!) and I laugh (better than crying!) about this stage a lot.

    Last night I went to sleep at 7 pm and was totally fine with it. No guilt. Just blamed it on Menopause. (peri? full? who the heck knows? Even my doctor won’t give me a straight answer!)

    It’s all about less structure these days. Wake up late, wake up early, it’s all good. And then run around all day doing errands, working, worrying, writing, phone calls, reading, …….sooooo busy and then collapse. Oy.

    Definitely different than back in the day when I could stay up till past midnight….doing stuff. Oh well!

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I’ve never been a night owl, but when I think of how much more energy I had when I was young I do get a little wistful.

  • I know what you mean. However, I get up later in the morning – 7:30 am – now that I don’t have to get to a full-time job – and exercise and sometimes don’t get out of the house until my yoga class at 11:00 am. Not sure how I did it all when I was working and raising a family with my hubby. I do go to bed too late, but that’s because there is so much I want to do.

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I would love to get up later. I am such a light sleeper, though that as soon as my husband is up, I’m up too. And on the weekends I’m up early too.

  • What makes me feel even more guilty is that, though I’m always so busy (physically and mentally–thinking of what to write next), I don’t have any earnings to show for it. Then I feel bad, like I don’t have the right to show my busyness and exhaustion. I know that’s wrong and believe me I wish I had the cure for this twisted mindset. *sigh*

    • Sharon Greenthal

      No, I completely get that. The problem with being creative! You work and work and make very little – it’s hard to explain to people sometimes why I do what I do for such long hours.

  • Ebeth

    Get a life! I am 65, retired at 58. My hubby and I raised 3 beautiful kids, all on their own. I don’t control their lives, they have a right to live their own lives. Yes, many of you may have to work like crazy just to put food on the table, but look at priorities. If your hubby only wants to do 25% of the domestic work, that does not mean that you have to do 75%. Women are not slaves. If you are exhausted and resent the work you do, please cut back. You only live once and you will be dead a long time..

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I think you may have misunderstood – I don’t resent my husband at all! And I don’t work all that hard around my house. But thank you for reading.

  • I’ve become one of those people, the ones I use to think were OLD and got up at 5am no matter what, even when I’m too tired to get out of bed I’m wide awake at the butt crack of dawn.

  • I was going to leave a comment, but I’m so tired I don’t remember what I was going to say. Think I’ll take a nap 🙂

  • Tired I get, as I often get tired but I rarely have a nap, sometimes I think I should have one but no time for naps I have school children to get in the afternoon, well usually Leo or on Tuesdays Blain. I don’t do bored in fact I can’t remember the last time I was bored

  • Laurie

    Such a great topic of not only feeling tired but what we feel guilty about doing. What is that about???

  • I was just telling my husband that we need a “sick” day where we lay in bed and watch tv. Probably won’t happen though, because I’d just feel guilty about it! I loved this post, and you are so right!

  • Debbie

    Sharon – great post! When I read your intro lines on the e-mail I thought ‘who she’s talking about?……..I’m 58 and certainly not tired all the time!’…….and then after I read the entire post I realized you were talking about me……..and lots of other women our age apparently! I can handle a full time demanding job Mon-Fri and working out every night after work, but after 7 p.m. I’m done. Some nights my hubby can barely get a word or two out of me. If we have more than one social event planned for a weekend I get tired just thinking about it and socializing on a week night? Kill me now!

  • My kids are teens and are still at home but I hear you. I try to be in bed before 10:00 most school nights. And will only venture out on a weeknight for something really, really special. I feel like I’m the only one in my house that doesn’t stop “doing” things during the awake hours.

  • i can so relate to this!! I’m only 40 but I have noticed a significant slow down in my life!! Not only am I more tired but I found in capable of juggling and multi-tasking less than I did before. There are a million reasons (kids have so many things going on that I have to manage, working more than I did when they were little, life has so many moving parts) but the truth is age DOES have a role as well. I think also that as a young/new mom I managed so much and said yes to everything that now my inability to “do it all” and the fact that I say no a lot more seems glaringly different than the “old me”. What has also changed is that I don’t want to do as much. I don’t NEED the socializing and girls night out like I used to. I’m content to be home.. Because I’m busy and I’m tired and I’m 40. And in trying to learn that that’s ok.
    Great article!!

  • OK, I’m the oldest one here, so you have to listen to me. Cut it out. Give yourself a break. We’re all older, trying tp do too much, getting one more post out, one more tweet, one more pin. Stop and smell life rushing past. Be a little bit better to yourself. i just broke my wrist, maybe smashed is the operative word, and I’m trying and failig to do stuff. That’s when the doctor said stop, rest, heal! We’re all valid, intelligent, productive woman. Now let’s all give ourselves permission to also be good to ourselves and rest a little, nap a little, stay in pj’s longer and enjoy doing nothing.

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