Ladies, it’s no surprise that we midlife women seldom get credit for all we achieve. That’s why I propose we be awarded the adult equivalent of Girl Scout badges that reflect our diverse and often-undervalued capabilities at this stage of our lives. While earning some of these will be a slam-dunk once you’ve hit midlife, a few may take some extra effort (but they’re worth it!):
Saying No Badge
A serious challenge if you’ve been a lifelong people-pleaser. Demonstrate that you can turn down social engagements you’re not interested in, refuse another volunteer gig, and decline to host every f*cking family holiday gathering this year simply by saying “No”—without further explanation. Bonus points if you do it without feeling guilty.
Whether or not you’re planning to move and downsize soon, if you haven’t purged your possessions in 2 or more years, it’s time. Lighten your load by clearing out closets, kitchen cabinets, basement, garage and attic. Points for each trip to a donation bin, dumpster or consignment shop (10 minimum). Bonus points if your partner participates willingly, and if you complete the process within 6 months.
Parental Caregiving Badge
This badge is one of the most challenging, yet many boomer women earn it simply by being a daughter to aging parents. Qualifying tasks include anything that helps your parents live independently, such as coordinating doctor visits, medications and a getting a lifeline device. This badge, shaped like angel wings, is automatically awarded if an elderly parent lives with you and/or memory impairment is an issue.
Estate Planning Badge
This is one of the ultimate tests of adulting. Minimum requirements for this badge include having a will, a trust (if appropriate), written medical directives, and power of attorney and beneficiary designations. Bonus points if you’ve discussed all this with your adult children. Extra bonus points if you’ve made your final wishes known and prepaid your funeral.
Yes, I’m a Feminist Badge
Ideally, any woman who came of age in the sixties and seventies should automatically qualify for this badge. To do so, you believe in equal economic, political, cultural, personal and social rights for women, including equal opportunities in education and employment. You also think it’s a mistake to tell girls they can be anything they want when they grow up—not because they can’t, but because it would never occur to them that they couldn’t. Oh, and bonus points if you think Phyllis Schlafly was an asshole.
Comfortable in My Own Skin Badge
While you may wish your skin were less wrinkled, you like the person who’s inside it. You wear what you like, color your hair or not, get Botox or not, and feel free to express yourself without worrying what other people think. Your sense of self worth doesn’t depend on the approval of others. Come to think of it, you don’t need no stinkin’ badge to prove it, either.
I Can Laugh at Myself Badge
There’s a saying, “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never cease to be amused.” This badge is yours if you’ve reached the point where you not only laugh at your own all-too-human fumbles and foibles, but also share them with friends because you know they’ll laugh with you—not at you.
Laughter heals the most
when directed at ourselves.
I crack myself up.
Parenting Adult Children Badge
Your adult children have left the nest and live independently. You are the antithesis of a helicopter parent in that you’re not overly involved in your child(ren)’s lives, and offer advice only if you’re asked for it. If they are married, you don’t criticize their spouse, and the words, “When are you going to give me a grandchild?” have never passed your lips. You don’t strive to be your child’s best friend (nor are they yours), and you don’t bitch to them about their father—ever.
Sandwich Generation Badge
Automatically awarded if you still have underage children living at home and you are caring for an elderly parent. Holders of this badge are entitled to “me” time, a mani/pedi, a friend to lend an empathetic ear, and/or adult beverages whenever needed.
DIY Survival Badge
You have completed a do-it-yourself home-improvement project with your spouse—and lived to tell the tale (and are still speaking to each other). You may also earn this badge if, mid-project, you and your spouse agree to hire a professional to complete the job to keep your marriage intact—demonstrating wisdom and maturity (regardless of who was right).
Walk Away Badge
This badge acknowledges your ability to remove yourself from other people’s nonsense because you no longer feel compelled to solve problems that aren’t yours. Whenever someone tries to suck you into their drama, you simply say, “Not my circus, not my monkeys” and walk away. Running away is also allowed.
I Don’t Give a F*ck Badge
This is the supreme badge of honor at midlife. It’s awarded at that point when you realize just how short life is, and you refuse to squander your precious time with people you don’t like, doing things you don’t really want to do. To be awarded this badge, you must first earn the “Saying No,” “Comfortable in My Own Skin” and “Walk Away” badges, demonstrating that you can set boundaries, love yourself, and not give a f*ck about what other people think of the choices you make about your own life.
So what do you think? Got ideas for other badges we should be awarded at midlife?