So many questions…
It’s almost a rite of passage in a person’s life. The panic of being middle aged. The infamous midlife crisis. Do you know when you’re supposed to have yours? Do you need to prepare for it in some way? Can you have it early, like some version of perimenopause, or skip it altogether? And what is a midlife crisis really? Maybe you’re going through it now, or already have, but aren’t sure if that is what it is/was.
Well, people have been doing this for centuries, so I’d say we need to do it when they did. Go ahead and put it on the calendar. Unless we’re going to take “midlife” literally (literal is totally my jam). Now we need to know when we’re going to die so we can find our 1/2 way point. If we go back centuries, their timeline is totally different. They’d be pimping out their wagons and having affairs with the girl who brings the well water when they’re like 20. Unless they’re lucky enough to avoid a bear mauling and cholera. Then they get to wait on their crisis. But if you don’t know the endpoint, how do you find the midpoint? Does it HAVE to be in the middle? These are the things that keep me up at night, folks.
So, I decided I was going to figure this thing out and pass it on to you. Kind of like a public service. Because now exposing you to my brain is considered helpful. By me, anyway. So, I got to thinking about this one night when I realized how old I am. I’m forty-(mumblemumble). Don’t I get a fancy sports car now? Maybe that’s not how it works. I thought it did when I was a kid. Somebody would suddenly have a sweet new ride, and I would hear the words “midlife crisis”. At first I thought when you hit a certain age, you’re given a nice car as a prize for having made it this far. I totally think that should be a thing now. But, it’s not. What is a thing, is that at a certain point in someone’s life they start to get weird. Maybe weird is the wrong word. After all, I was born weird. Let’s say that people start to act in a manner that may be unusual for them. Sound better? Yes. I’m so agreeable.
Let’s look at the standard moves. Buying a convertible or a sports car, or a convertible sports car (these cars make no sense to me), and putting their marriage on the line for their secretary (or do I call them administrative coordinator of customer service filing systems? – I’m totally “incorrect” most of the time), or for their poolboy. Men and women are interchangeable in these scenarios because sometimes it is also an identity crisis. My thought was, why are these the things people do? Why be so unoriginal? I wanted to figure out why so many people go through this or some version of it. I just don’t get it. I do love cars. Specifically 60’s and 70’s muscle cars. But putting 2 car seats and 2 booster seats in a Shelby GTO500 is not only impossible, it’s pathetic. Obviously not meant to be, so I move on. The poolboy? So many reasons no. I’m crazy for my husband, we don’t even have a pool, I’m way too damn tired, and the thought of myself in a bathing suit even makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
So we have the stereotypical when and what, but what about the why? Oh, and maybe the why affects the when! I might be on to something. I think it’s all starting to come together. Why? Because we get to this point in our lives – it can be anytime that we feel like we’re pretty much where we’re going to be riding out life for a while. Early thirties even? Sure. If you’ve established your career choice, settled in with what makes up your family unit – married without children, done having kids, happy to live alone – you can be settled in that comfort zone (or restless zone) that leads to a crisis. I always thought the magic age was 35. When I realized I was well past that, I thought this must be something I’m skipping over. But, at 35 my life as I know it was just beginning. I had my first of 4 children then. I didn’t know my “this is what it will be like” until now. Four kids, working from home, trying to get by day-to-day. This is what it will be like for a while. I’ve officially moved on from my past, am unsure of the future, so here I am stuck in the middle questioning EVERYTHING about my life. Sound familiar? Sound like a midlife crisis?
It doesn’t have to be.
I don’t think so. I realized it’s not a midlife crisis. It’s a midlife evaluation. I’ve moved on from the point in my life where there was all the time in the world to do all the things I wanted to do. I now have more responsibility, more experience, more maturity (some days). Why does this make people have affairs and buy fancy cars? Because maybe they’ve done their evaluation and they’re just not happy where they are. They think if they can only go back to the player they were, or always wanted to be, then all the other things become a possibility,too. They realize that they know now exactly where they stand financially, so they can go ahead and buy that car they always wanted, because they are ready to live out all the dreams they had when they were young, but never got around to.
I felt a little of the panic, deemed it a crisis, until I looked at it differently. If I evaluate it, I can think about the things I always wanted to do and be, and then see that some of those things aren’t even on the list anymore, and some of them I could still do. I wanted to be a successful interior designer since I was nine, and swore I’d go to college and get that degree. I did, but that’s not the path my life ended up taking for the long haul. So, instead of being bummed about not doing it, I’ll just be proud that I followed through on something I said I was going to accomplish. I wanted to be a mommy. I accomplished that like a mo-fo, and according to myself, I’m Rocking Motherhood. I wanted to learn everything about things that fascinated me – cars, beer (yes, I know it pretty well, but I mean actually know all about it), foreign languages, every type of martial arts, the list goes on and on. I can still do these things someday if I really wanted to. Then there’s my bucket list from so long ago that life has completely taken off the table for me. Skydiving. I was so close. I bungee jumped to appease myself until I had the money to skydive. My friend that I was going to do it with did it without me, and I just felt like it was a missed opportunity. I could totally do it now. Except I never would. Just like I could someday, but never would, travel the world. All for the same reason. Anxiety disorder. I don’t even worry that I haven’t done these things because I couldn’t anyway. Play drums. Oh, this is a big one. I’ve wanted to learn how to do this for as long as I can remember. The ridiculous part? I’m married to a drummer. We have a set in the basement. We’re just too busy.
So, I’ve evaluated my life. I realize that I don’t want half the things I used to, or that I’m supposed to (Like a big luxurious master bath. Not on my list anymore because I don’t have time to clean it!). I can still do the rest if it’s really that important to me. But, the biggest thing is, I can be content with my life as it has turned out. I can allow myself to be fulfilled being “just a mommy”, even if other women need to go to work or go crazy. I can be satisfied that my whirlwind travel days are not yet to come, but rather were experienced in my past as impromptu middle of the night road trips with friends, and hopping on a Greyhound at 17 to check out the other side of the country for a few months. Everything that I’ve done can be enough if I remember the experiences I have had instead of dwelling on those I haven’t.
I’ll still keep my bucket list,guys, and so should you. At any age, never throw that away. Just don’t go drop a hundred grand on a car because you never took those ninja lessons.
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