Skip to Content

Less is More in Midlife and Beyond

The subject of giving advice is old and cliched.

Nagging moms and moms-in-law are reminded to “keep their mouths shut and pockets open.” We’re told that the kids know what to do. They have to make their own mistakes. And if we know what is good for us and our relationships with our adult kids, we had better learn that lesson. Fast.
midlife, midlife women, advice, relationship advice, speaking, invisibility, featured
Truth is, we moms of adult kids do want to be silent —even when we see things that are going around us that are really wrong.We know that others don’t appreciate our input. We get that.
But it’s hard for us. We have lots to offer and we kind of want to share what we know.
Several weeks ago, around the time that I’ve been writing about this holding-your-tongue topic on my website for mothers-in-law, as well as on my grandmother blog – I attended a professional women’s networking meeting.  At this evening affair which was held in a lovely restaurant, each person had 45 seconds to present what she offered in her business. Most of us kept to the 45 seconds.  A few had to be reminded (including this writer) that the time was up via the moderator’s gentle  tingling of a glass.
However, there was one person who did things differently. I don’t know how long she spoke, but she went on and on….perhaps for up to 3 minutes or more. The tinkling of the glass, the glazed eyes of the attendees did not deter her. She was determined to add just one more thing. And after her rambling, she finally looked around and asked, “whoops – did I go over my time?”
As someone who has a tendency to talk a lot, I took notice of those glazed eyes of the attendees. I saw how the longer the woman spoke, the less people listened. And I realized that that could have been me (had I not practiced my blurb in front of my husband beforehand!). I was then convinced that  less is really more.
Which leads me to believe that as I grow up into midlife and beyond, maybe I can be less concerned about how I look, how I sound, and about  invisibility in midlife. About having a voice.

I know I have a voice. I write, I have friends, I share. People hear me.

But do I need to repeat myself? Do I need to lecture? To drive my points home? To preach to my daughters-in-law, to my adult children, to my friends? I wonder.
When I’m at a class or lecture and there is a Q & A afterwards, must I raise my hand and offer something so that the moderator calls on me?
When I get into my 80’s and 90’s and beyond (hopefully!) in good health, will I be overly concerned about the invisibility that sometimes happens to those who age? Will I feel competitive with the youthful generation who seem to have center stage?
Or will I celebrate that everyone has her time?
Will I be the listening kind? The kind who is silent…the kind who has opinions to share, but shares them sparingly and when asked?  The type who is succinct and kind and is more interested in others than in myself?
I sure hope so. Then again I’m still in my 50’s….lots of time to practice being silent in my interactions with my lovely sons and daughters-in-law, and others.
We all have our turns to tune in. Let’s tune in to others so they don’t tune out to us.
Read more from Miriam Hendeles on her blog,  Bubby Joys and Oys

Miriam Hendeles

Miriam Hendeles, MT-BC is a music therapist, writer, blogger and the author of a book on being a grandmother to her four grandsons, Mazel Tov! It's a Bubby!. Miriam's website is Mother-in-Law-Hood 101. MIL's who visit that site will get ideas of how and when to speak up, keep quiet, cope and survive in their challenging roles as mothers-in-law. Miriam lives in Los Angeles with her husband and sons.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:


Wednesday 26th of February 2014

I really don't understand people who go on and they not look at their listeners at all? I love to chat with others but I have always thought that most people don't want to hear my stories in gory detail so I keep it short. If they want more they'll ask....

Lisha Fink

Tuesday 19th of November 2013

"Or will I celebrate that everyone has her time?" Wow. I'm still taking that line in. As someone who often has a lot to say, I need to work on that. It's easy when I'm among other talkers, because the ball bounces from one to the other easily. I need to work on paying attention to those who won't jump in, but who wait for a pause to begin. I need to make sure everyone has their time.

Miriam Hendeles

Tuesday 19th of November 2013

Lisha - Thanks.I can completely relate. I guess it takes practice to get it right - for me at least! As you say, some people are talkers (bouncing the ball from person to person with comments) and others wait for the pause before speaking. I guess it takes all's tricky to find a comfortable balance.


Monday 18th of November 2013

Hmmm Miriam I can't imagine people who love to talk I dont know anyone like that :). Great points though

Miriam Hendeles

Tuesday 19th of November 2013

Thank you, Faigie

Kathy @ SMART Living

Friday 15th of November 2013

Hi Miriam! I really appreciated this post because as a person who likes to talk, it is GOOD to be reminded that we should monitor that now and then--especially when being timed!

While I don't have children I do mentor for young girls at a local high school along with a group of women. It is tempting to start talking with the girls (especially when the are shy) but if you are paying attention you can usually see their eyes gloss over and they start to look for their cell phones when you've gone on too long. The problem is, not everyone is paying attention and I almost feel sorry for some of the girls when they are forced to sit and listen to women rambling on about something that is only interesting to them. I try to remember that any time I'm tempted to go on and on with anyone I'm talking to--especially those I care about.

thanks for the great reminders! ~Kathy

Miriam Hendeles

Friday 15th of November 2013

Thanks Kathy - I guess for all of us it's a struggle to speak less/listen more... we keep reminding ourselves! I especially loved your last phrase - "...especially those that I care about..." - so true - real caring is listening. And it is clear from the way you read your students' body language and cues that you really care about them and want to listen, to hear them.

Comments are closed.
Read previous post:
brene brown, the happiness project, self-help books, inspiration, featured
The Doctor Is In: Self-Help Books That Inspire and Challenge

Every once in a while, you come across a  book so insightful and mind blowing it has the potential to...