Thursday, April 19, 2012

Midlife Crisis Time

I'm 37. Is that too young for a mid-life crisis? I'm not sure, but I think that I may be in the midst of one.

I am feeling dissatisfied. I am feeling unsure. I'm starting to contemplate"finding myself." Feel free to gag. I don't know just what fueled all of this, but now that it's been ignited, I'm burning up with angst. What am I doing? Where is my passion? What do I want? WHO AM I? Damn it, it sounds like I am 17. The cliche of our thirties is that everyone is so freaking happy. I constantly hear about women who finally are "comfortable in their own skin." But I feel lost. I feel completely uncomfortable.

Who the hell am I? Yoga-pant wearing soccer mom, planning play dates and making nice with the PTA? Hipster-wanna-be, drinking Bud Light and watching reality TV? Working Girl, balancing career/parenthood and a busy social calendar?

Honestly, I bounce back and forth, still trying to figure it all out. Over the past several years, everything has changed. I moved far from what was "home", I got pregnant and had another baby miles from my family. I became a stay-at-home-mom. I started working, quit working, and starting working *part-time* again.

So now, I am attempting to discover exactly who the heck I am. I have decided to invest more time and effort into really living life, rather than going through the day to day motions. I joined a book club and I continue to write this blog. I auditioned to read an essay in a local show and failed. I have started to pay more attention to my appearance. I have stepped up my wardrobe and sometimes even (gasp) wear eye makeup, in an attempt to feel more like a woman, and less like a "mom." I'm jogging, something I gave up almost two years ago, but that was always part of my identity and self esteem. I have contemplated dating my husband again. My marriage is easy, and perhaps it shouldn't be. Maybe my relationships require more investment and work to be meaningful. If this doesn't sound like a true midlife crisis to you, it's because I have restraint. There is a part of me who would like to run away to a place where nobody knows me, become a waitress, get a tummy tuck, and learn to ride a motorcycle. But if there is one thing that I do know about me, it is that I would never do that. I love my family. I love my husband and I have a good life. I have too much at stake, too much to leave behind.

And so because I cannot completely reinvent myself, I have to find a way to discover and create myself with reason and maturity, which is hard to do when so much of me just cries out with selfish want.

I am certain that I am not the only person to go through this, and thus the invention of the term "midlife crisis." Yet it's hard not to feel confused and alone. I don't want to be old. I don't want to be just a mom and wife. I want to figure out me. I want to have a sense of who I am. I want to have my own interests and to actually be... interesting.

This isn't an essay with a tidy ending, because really, all of this is just a begining. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm moving, I am trying, and that is finally...something.


  1. I don't know about the thirties - so much expectation on women. Must have children, must have career, must be awesome mum and wife, not to forget still be hot babe. I felt all this expectation fall away the day I turned Forty (the night before I sobbed inexplicably). It was liberating. some people say women become invisible after forty but there is a really liberating plus side to that. I do know what you are going through. I called it my extended Betty Friedan Moment having been home with children for 11 years. I had friends but felt invisible all the same (don't get me started on the status of mothers in our culture...). For me the answer was beginning a blog as a way of reaching out and trying to connect (it worked!) and then enrolling to study art and I haven't looked back really. But for a while before I felt lost and struggled for my sense of self (Still makes me sad my kids had to be at school and I had to become more than just 'mother' before the world gave me any validation!). Hang in there - you're right, it is just the beginning and although that's scary it's also the beginning of something new and exciting!! Hugs and good luck, Jo X.

  2. Hard to believe, but the older you get the better you feel.

  3. I can't figure it out. I'm constantly doing what you're doing. I'm fine, I'm having a breakdown, I'm focused, I'm confused, I'm excited, I'm horribly depressed. It must be like living with Sybil.

    I don't know what to tell you except that at least our children will be really, really good at dealing with difficult people. Little handlers. It's an excellent life skill.


  4. I think that feeling is totally normal. I have finally accepted that my career (at least for now) is a part time instructor at a community college. Glamorous? No. But, it seems to work with where i am right now.
    But I am terrible with my fashion sense. I dress like a hippie one day, a hipster the next, and a run-down mom in workout clothes in between. I sometimes feel like I need to get on some sort of reality tv show to get a makeover and find a style that is "me".
    Last night, out on the town, I was wearing a beret-ish hat that I had knitted and I just didn't feel like myself. I have no style.
    So, no, I don't think you are having a mid-life crisis, I think you are just having a moment. Taking care of 3 kiddos is an entire career and lifestyle in itself, so I think that finding the time to define yourself, and to prioritize who you want to be in the small time, is a difficult task.

  5. I'm 38. And these words could be mine. I always felt envious of those that *knew* what they wanted out of life... but, man! What a BORING book that would be! "I wanted to be a ____, so I was. The end." Shoot, I've dabbled in everything at this point - and there's so much left for me to discover! MY memoir is going to be L-O-N-G!