Friday, November 21, 2014

Midlife Crisis

About a month ago I decided to have myself a midlife crisis. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is something like 78, so I suppose, at 36 I am a hair on the young side, but a few years early won't hurt anything. I've never been the sort of person who was bothered by aging. That is really almost a silly thing to say in your mid thirties, but I didn't panic when I hit 30 and five years I was thrilled to finally be old enough to be president (not that I would actually want the job). When I feel stuck in the 30-something doldrums I don't usually daydream about my lost youth, I daydream about getting older. Your 20s are confusing and filled with all this pressure to become somebody. No thank you. 

I look at my parents, my aunts and my friend's moms and I think, "that's where it's at." I want to take up beading and photography, volunteer large amounts of my time for good causes, spoil my grand kids, have extended happy hours with my friends (or kids!) and travel to Italy. I look forward to the day that I can be my kids friends and not The Meanest Mom Ever. Oh sure, you can do some of those things when you are young, but then they come with pressure. "This is the best time of your life. Enjoy it now before the real world gets to you." "Find out who you are." That is for the birds. Those things sound like so much more fun when you already know who you are. 

Because of that, I kind of thought that the fabled midlife crisis would pass me by. Lately, though, I think some shaking up might be helpful. I'm finding myself feeling a little get-off-my-lawn, a little cynical even. My patience is a little stretched, and I can see, that if I don't take steps to change, I may not like who I grow into. 

I already have a younger man (my husband) and a tattoo, so this is the plan I have come up with. 

1. Stop dressing like I just got out of bed. Even though, many days, I still feel like I just got out of bed at 3:00 in the afternoon, there is no reason I need to look like it. 10 years of baby making has meant a lot of shift in sizes, and I have completely fallen into the yoga-pants and t-shirts, or on a good day, jeans and t-shirts trap. 

"Mom, is black your favourite colour?" "No." "Then why is it all you wear?" "Because not having to change my shirt by noon is my favourite colour." I have had that conversation with my colour-conscious eldest daughter many times. She is right, though, it's a cheap excuse. I have solved the dirt on the clothes problem by wearing an apron. Yes, it makes me look like a '50s housewife, but better a '50's housewife than a depressed, overgrown college student. Body image issues used to contribute to my lack of dress sense, but, happily, my newfound cynicism is manifesting itself in a lack of concern about what anyone might think of my body and how I dress it. I've made six people. My body is just fine. Besides, when I was a kid and imagined what I wanted to look like as an adult, the image in my head was always more funky-librarian than Disney Princess. 

2. Devote more time to my own hobbies, learning and other pursuits. This one has been a little harder, and not for the reasons you might think, namely, six reasons that are, as I type this, sleeping in their beds. It's more that I am suspicious of the sort of Oprah-ish idea that what I want is the most important thing in the world. Wants are a fickle master. While I do think that mindset is hogwash, the opposite idea, that using and developing my gifts and talents and cultivating my own joy is somehow injurious to the world, is, at best, silly and unhelpful. Studying at the Catechetical Institute and blogging are the first steps in this effort, but I mean them to be only the beginning. There is nothing wrong with being well-rounded. 

1 comment:

  1. I think it's healthy to make yourself feel good by looking good and keeping yourself creative seems like a reasonable way to keep your mind healthy. I like your logic for it, esp. the second one.