The Middle Ages in Europe, beginning with the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire and followed by the invasion of the barbarians, are generally divided into three periods: Early, High and Late. My Middle Ages are progressing in reverse, beginning with the departure of the barbarians, when the kids left the nest, and instead of advancing away from Antiquity, heading toward it.
As with Europe, my Middle ages can be divided into three stages. The first was Recovery, a roughly 10-year period during which I cleaned the house.
Housecleaning was one of the things I could depend on in the child-rearing years: whether I did it or not, it never went away. A friend just ahead on the Mommy track once advised, “Don’t paint until the kids leave.” I followed the last child out of the house with a wet brush in hand and painted over the dark smudge that ran up the wall along the stairs. I even painted over an intact handprint for some future historical preservationist to uncover and hypothesize about how late-20th century interior décor displayed remarkable veneration of the child. So be it.
As is often the case, recovery was not a straight line but a series of false starts: attempts at organization and lapses into disorder I could no longer blame on the kids. For this reason, I sometimes define this first era of my middle age as Preparation, getting ready for middle age, because when I was in Recovery, I still thought Middle Age lay ahead. [Read More…]