Does any of this sound familiar? You’re watching your favorite professional sports team live or on TV and it occurs to you that ALL of the players are much younger than you. As a matter of fact, some of these pimply faced players are younger than your offspring. Have you looked around your office lately? The mall, the gym, your favorite ballpark, or even what you consider an age appropriate concert. Guess what? Same thing! Holy shit…you’re in your fifties.
Now you are standing in a parking lot at dusk on a warm summer night with a dusty ball field in the background. Your hand is wrapped tightly around your third Bud Light. Look around, no more pimply faced kids. Instead you see slightly overweight guys in their unintentionally tight-fitting softball uniforms. Some with their caps turned backwards trying to hide the fact that they are over-fifty balding. You throw your last empty in the rusty 20-gallon barrel that turns in to a fire pit when the weather turns colder in the fall. Next, you get in your luxury car, SUV, or pick-up truck and start driving away. In the car, you think about being young and having all the answers, never afraid to share them. But now in your fifties, you seem to have a lot more questions than answers.
1. What does a guy like this want out of life? Other than being able to walk through the door still wearing eye black and proclaiming to his half-listening wife “I still got it, I hit for the cycle tonight!” This man is looking for one thing, it begins with the letter “S” and it’s not sex, it’s simplicity. That’s right, remove all the noise and strive for the ever elusive “no drama” zone. This can be more than challenging when you’re in your fifties. In all likelihood, you are facing an all-out assault from above and below — aging parents with health, housing, or financial issues, above; children scuffling through high school, college, entering the workforce, searching for their soulmate on Tinder. As much as simplicity is desired you might just have to settle for the other “S” word for a few more years.
2. What does he want from his partner? Exactly that…a partner! Someone to share personal and professional successes and failures. You both have focused on the work v. life balance as you moved through the years. You juggled jobs, daycare, sports, and recitals under the guise of being a good parent, NOT partner. He wants the pendulum of focus to swing back to him and you and him and start attacking that bucket list. He wants to take a safari, drive across country, buy a second home and travel, all with his partner by his side.
3. What does Mr. 50+ want from his job? He has taken one of these two paths –worked in a specific industry; the same company or bounced around trying to find his way. Regardless, two very different words come to mind — stability and flexibility. He has worked a long time to get to this point and finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel. He doesn’t want to be worried about his job. He also wants flexibility for the bucket list items above. To this guy, respect, recognition and reputation are always important. Work is called work for a reason. No sense wasting time doing something that doesn’t fulfill the three ‘Rs.’
4. What does he want from his kids? When it comes to kids, it’s like jumping between the sheets with the wife. What you want and what you get are often very different. Health of course is the panacea. More than anything, however, you want your children to be happy and fulfilled. You hope they have listened, watched and adopted some of the moral values you have shown during their formative years. But perfect is impossible, despite the fact that some delusional parent will tell you differently (you know the ones.) The true test is how you react to the challenging times. Kids are like stocks. The more you have and the more you diversify, the more likely it becomes you will be tested. What happens when your child decides they don’t want to go back to college? Get arrested? Become pregnant? Or come home with a random piercing or a tattoo? How a man reacts to any and all of this will tell the true meaning of his character.
Bottom line: keep it in perspective. Don’t worry about those pimply faced kids unless they are your own. You are relegated to dusty fields behind elementary schools, not a major league arena. So what? Move on. Despite many unanswered questions, you’ve got this. Don’t be limited by your own beliefs. You can stand in the batter’s box or round third. So, swing hard, you never know who is watching.