Midlife crisis, or midlife?
Or just mid?
I went away a few weeks ago with a pal so we could be alone and quiet and away from our families. I told another buddy about my plans and she asked if it was a writing retreat. No, I said. I had aims to work on this issue of Evil Witches a little bit but otherwise my main plans were to read, stare at some trees and catch up on “F Boy Island.”
I’m proud to say I met those goals, but I realized that not having something bigger to work on in a creative fashion irked me. Why didn’t I have a big idea—or several medium ideas— to work on? On top of that, why was I having such a hard time not just keeping up with, but having the desire to keep up with colleagues of mine who seem to be hustling, creating, working a lot more? And why was I falling behind so much in keeping up with my friends? What was wrong with me?
I’ll be 45 next year. My parents are getting older. Everyone’s parents are getting older, if they’re still around. People I know are getting the kind of illnesses I used to subconsciously think only old/unlucky folks got. Everyone’s talking perimenopause and menopause and hystos. I caught myself in a window’s reflection recently and realized that what I thought was a youthful slouch actually gives off old woman hunch. I guess this was the portal thatspoke with me about for this issue of .
Maybe it was time to downshift my expectations for myself. Find a whole new field, even. Other moms I knew seemed to do so much better at fighting through the tasks of raising a family to continue being their badass ambitious selves. I in comparison was probably just washed up and destined to lean into being the contented tradwife that lies within.
Then I looked at the family calendar for that one week, which featured:
1 baseball practice and 1 baseball game
3 football practices and 2 football games
1 swim class
1 family therapy appointment
1 boys’ haircut appointment
2 children’s musical instrument lessons
1 3rd grade moms’ night
Curriculum night at school
A pediatrician appointment
Additionally we switched the kids’ school last year from a place they could walk to to a place a 15 minute drive away. So yeah, I think I honed in on the cause of my midlife crisis.
It’s not that I necessarily need to find a new job or vocation or accept that I am simply creatively/ambitiously dying inside. It’s that I’m hauling ass around constantly yet I think that it’s on me to work around this and be a whole-brained person.
For my family, for the second—which obviously cannot be said of many people around the world right now—we don’t have truly urgent issues at home. There are some things on the back burner that will bubble up soon, but for the moment I am between things/people in my immediate circle I’m deeply worried and pained about. So that circumstance, as lucky as it is (and temporary I know), led me to believe that I should still somehow be thinking and behaving as if I’m not someone who spends 6x more time in the car and doing much more complex logistics than I did a few years ago.
Now I have a to-do list of things like:
oversee copious amounts of homework in a way that is not helicopter parenty but also realistic for two young boys with nascent executive functioning skills
finding clean sports uniforms
adding money to the Book fair “wallet”
trying and failing to find a literary character costume for the book fair dress up day
volunteering for the kids’ newspaper club
volunteering to help with teacher lunch
taking equipment to Play It Again Sports so I can stop looking at these ancient disused knee pads and helmets rolling around the house without actually being used.
checking my son’s Messages to make sure nobody is sexting or bullying or whatever
officially joining a new parish instead of just letting the one unanswered letter of inquiry suffice
remembering to log onto the kids’ math platform in addition to their regular homework
Maybe you are in a real driving/calendaring phase of parenthood as well right now, wondering why you’re not writing the great American novel or succeeding at finding an amazing new job as you again log into SportsEngine or fill out the Signup Genius or stay up close to your own bedtime as your kids’ homework demands get longer.
I am sure there are a few of you out there dictating ideas into your Notes, listening to audiobooks on self improvement, bullet journaling and brainstorming ideas in your head while you’re behind the wheel. Not me. I am listening to the dumbest podcasts possible or my kids’ musical requests, giving a secret middle finger in traffic to anyone who stops me from getting to where I need to go.
If there is a portal I’ve come through, in addition to it being that of distinct middle age, it’s that I can’t pretend I’m a young mom anymore with fresh little kids. I feel now like the way illustrators draw moms.
I don’t have to like this but maybe also I’ll stop beating myself up for not having the same levels of creativity and ideas and energy spewing out of my head as I did 20 years ago.
They say there are seasons in life. I am in my driving season right now. Which are you in?
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