The question”Do you consider yourself to be middle-aged and is this a problem? ”
I’m 44 .
Yup, that’s middle-aged.
… but, is it a problem?
Unlike Con, who sits at around 28 years old, I’ve thought of myself as about 32 since I was 15 or so. In a small country town, I realised that I was making life choices – whether to do well at school, to drink, take drugs, have sex with just anyone - with a much longer-term view than the other kids around me. I remember having one eye on my future self and being really worried about what she would think of me. I was worried about her being disgusted or disappointed or embarrassed by the choices that I was making as a teen. Possibly I still think of myself as around 32 years old.
What could be a problem for me as a middle-aged mum, with one of my own kids turning 15 this year, is that an abrupt life change means I am revisiting many of the situations that I last confronted as a teen. Being newly single, for the first time since I was 18 years old, has me thinking about issues that seem to go more with adolescence than middle-age. I am, however, pretty well-sorted on the drink, drugs and sex-with-just-anyone issues, thank goodness.
I wouldn’t characterise these new/old challenges as exactly problems, so much as situations that need a problem-solving toolkit that has been gathering dust in the back of the cupboard for 25 years and that needs to be now combined with the confidence and ability that does, as Con mentioned, come with age.
I want to make new friends and increase my social circle now that I am no longer one half of a couple. How does one go about that? Is it possible for me to have a friendship with another single person without the “are you a potential sex partner?” question silently sitting in the background like it did as a teen (for me it did anyhow, YMMV).
My kids no longer live with me for 50% of the time, so I am trying to adjust to what on earth one does with nights at home without anyone else in the house or to care for. So far it has involved lots of baking, some friend-phoning/IM-ing and much dancing to the stereo turned up loud – often to songs from the mid-1980′s that I have not really listened to since then.
I am re-calibrating and will need to make choices about where I live and the dreams that I want to follow. With the requirement from work that I start a Phd very soon, I am looking at again being a long term student and immersing myself in learning in a way that I have not since youth (yeah – remember, I’m MIDDLE-AGED, so I can talk about “my youth”).
Also unlike Con, I am finding myself physically in better shape than when I was younger, and not so worried about the bits that sag and change. I think that once pregnancies – when I was YOUNG! – stretched bits out of whack then I became far less worried by other bits going South. After 35 years or so, I finally got my asthma under control when my doctor convinced me to start a regular preventer, so I no longer spend 4 or so months every winter with respiratory infections. No more swivelling of heads and staring as I break into a hacking cough in crowded rooms. I am running or cycling most days and have much more stamina and generally feel more physically capable.
So, while I am definitely middle-aged, and this is not in itself a problem, I am facing some problem-solving that I did not exactly expect to be happening when I was a middle-aged mum.
Tomorrow the last post for #blogjune, Con’s question about What would you like to tell your 15 year old self?