Recently my friend Stephanie posted on social media, wondering why so many celebrities were dying all of a sudden, noting a marked increase. I commented that there was, in fact, no increase in celebrity obituaries…sadly, we are older and recognize ALL the names. And so began a conversation about the reality of our forties.
Gray hair. Aches and pains. Decaf coffee after dinner because caffeine will keep us up all night. Having to pee all the time. Not bouncing back from injuries like we used to. Night driving challenges. Wrinkles. Reading glasses. Diminished hearing. Loose skin. New fat. Old fat. Chins, plural. Insomnia.
While all of these might not be striking each of us with the hard slap of middle age, some of these aging milestones are certainly experienced by all.
And yet, in my mind I am mostly the same person I was twenty years ago.
Sure, circumstances change. We are wiser. More experienced at life. I know for me, the little things that once got me all fired up- daily injustices, petty disputes, differences of opinion, criticism-do not bother me nearly as much as they did five or ten years ago, if they bother me at all. That is a pleasant surprise of middle age.
But the phrase “middle age” itself, is bothersome. My son, at the ripe young age of fifteen has taken to referring to me as a “middle age woman”. When I told him to stop calling me that he said, “but mom you are.” I responded by telling him if he kept it up he wouldn’t see sixteen, never mind “middle age”.
While I understand that I may well be at the peak of the mountain of life, in my mind’s eye I am still young. And thin. And full of energy and good ideas. I might not catch the eye of men like I used to. I certainly get the occasional “ma’am”. My kids are in awe of my life in the 1900s. But my inner life, the pondering, and musing, imagining and wishing, planning and goal-setting, feels very much like it always has: vibrant, lively, energetic.
If this is middle age, so be it. Time with family and friends will be all the more precious. Guilt about what I can and cannot achieve or assist with be damned. I am heading to the decline of this mountain of life. It may feel like time is flying and it may take more muscle power to navigate the decline than it did to climb the incline, but when I look back, all the way back, I see someone who 45 years ago could not walk or talk. I learned to do both and so very much more in the first 45. I am excited to see what I learn and experience in the next 45.
This may be middle age, but life is comfortable and cozy and stable in the middle. There is so much still ahead, even from the other side of the mountain, where I can often coast seamlessly, rather than struggle and climb, knowing well by now that struggles come and go. Confident in ways I never was before. Excited to see what this next chapter delivers.
Middle age, I am not. In my prime, at the great climax of my life story, ready to take on the world, I am.
More from me at: http://thewrittenmom.blogspot.com