77 Comments
Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

Ooooh boy. I commented on AHP's portal post that I'm 48 and feel like I'm JUST on the cusp of coming through it. My oldest is a senior in high school, and just went and bought his own Halloween costume with his friends (a $45 Squid Game situation, lol). My college kid is far away and while she does require consultation and money, it's much different energy than all those logistics. And my husband and I go out to our favorite bar on Halloween and get candy corn jello shots, which are actually TASTY.

I'm guess what I'm trying to say is that it gets better.

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founding
Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

I’m having the double whammy of massive kid needs RIGHT when all my friends and acquaintances from college are starting to capital-M “Make It.” (Like C-suite of a Fortune 500, federal judge, prosecuting the former president, “Make It.”) Meanwhile, I can barely hold it together on a “reduced schedule” at my entirely unimpressive mid tier gig, because it is a full time job making sure my kid gets the schooling he deserves and the therapy he needs. (schlepping him to said appointments is a SECOND full time job that my husband gets to do. ) All I can do is hope that it gets easier as he gets older.

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

I have a 7yo and we have just entered this time of her having things and opinions and plans for herself and it is EXTREME bullshit!! I did not love the boredom of being the mom of a very tiny child, but i did like the circular predictability of it where almost every day was identical with a tiny wrinkle of activity and weather. I am exhausted by the now that we are just entering into. I do love her and want her to grow into an independent person but also I hate it, no thank you.

But also, I urge all of you to find a non-work/non-family FUN fulfilling thing for you (reading novels, sewing, woodworking, pub trivia, whatever) and carve regular time out for it and protect it like your kid’s protect the dumb fucking toys they get at birthday parties. If they get stuff for them, you get stuff for you! Plus!! You are teaching them to be adults who take time for themselves and save them for the self-sacrificing middle class (mostly) white parenting trap we have all arrived at.

Note: i guess you could include your spouse or partner if you want.

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Holy shit, I feel this so much. I have been struggling with dwindling ambition/motivation over the past year and I keep thinking, "What is wrong with me?" But yes, I am also insanely busy with the minutiae of raising two tweens with a mostly full-time job and a husband who is out of the house 12 hours a day 4x a week. Maybe that's why...... Anyway, thanks for putting things to into perspective. I will read this over and over again.

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I’m a few years past the “portal,” but I remember feeling similar. Part of it might be transitioning to being a parent of older kids. Instead of freeing up more time, the work shifted to more monotonous chores—more laundry, dishes, and places to be. And instead of oxytocin-inducing toddler hugs, I got cortisol-inducing older-kid sass.

What helped me was what you’re doing: expressing the bad feelings and sharing with others. Gradually, I shifted my expectations. I’ve realized most have-to’s really aren’t. Now, I just accept I’m going to disappoint someone—but I’m not going to take responsibility if it’s for something someone else should’ve remembered. I’ve let go of the idea that everything in life can be “managed.”

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Oh shit, I am Calvin’s mom. Hair and everything.

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Oct 27, 2023·edited Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

I realized it's not a midlife crisis, but crisis in midlife. There is so much to do, so little time, and pressure to do more. Where that pressure is from? I don't know, but lately the answer to that voice that is telling me to do more is, NOPE!

Right now I am in a constant state of transition. My oldest is applying to colleges, my youngest is inserting her independence, my parents have slowed down significantly and their peers have also slowed down, gotten sick, or died. Conversation with my peers have shifted from taking care of kids to taking care of parents or our new and surprising ailments. Don't get me started on full on menopause (or rather I can't because I forgot what I was going to say.) I've been back to full time work for five years now and well...meh. I love what I do, but unlike the younger me, I have no desire to do more. I just want to "be" in peace. Once again I'm at that point where I realize I have to actualize the life I am living , rather than the life I thought I I should be living. Embracing my mundane, mediocre self is so freeing, and girl I am embracing it wholeheartedly. No, I am not out there doing this and that, my lazy ass is home, parked on my couch, eating cookies with my husband while watching "Stranger Things" for the umpteenth time. Leave me alone!

In the wise words of Antonio Salieri in the closing scene of the film Amadeus: Mediocrities everywhere... I absolve you... I absolve you...

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

Damn, this resonates! I am reluctant to admit this but *sometimes* I kinda miss the lock down stage of 2020 (not all the death and disease obvi!). But Phew, a time when we didn’t have birthday parties and after school clubs, and play dates, and work happy hours and sports stuff. It was a simpler time 🤪

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

Holy crap, this was so resonant that it just about broke me. I don't even have words right now except *thank you* for voicing this.

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

I'm all over the map. Our daughter is in her freshman year of college -- six hours away, but obviously I'm still needed for my wallet and answering the important questions like, "should I wear leggings today?" Our son is in second grade and I still haven't bothered teaching him how to tie his shoes. So, parenting whiplash!

I coach his soccer team, so that's two evening a week, plus Saturday games. Piano lessons. Church stuff. My non-negotiable spin class twice a week. Full-time job, plus a consulting gig. Got a weird family estrangement thing going on that I'm sometimes confused about and sometimes grateful for taking up valuable brain space.

I don't know. I'm filling my days with family related things, junk food Amazon Prime ebooks, work, and working out. I'm feeling myself for the first time in forever, so I'm kind of leaning in to that, as shallow and clutching on to youth as that may seem? I wore a (tasteful!) bodycon dress to the office this week. I'm 41 and I might start training for a half-marathon just because. Definitely midlife crisis, right?

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

I feel this! My son said he wants to join the basketball team and I looked at the schedule and was like fuuuhhh….

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

It is a very real stage of life: need to get my oldest driving (driving well enough that the stress of him driving isn’t more than the stress of me driving him everywhere) before I can no longer ask my parents to help with driving. But also, realizing having a new driver doesn’t help that much if he doesn’t have a vehicle. Because I GUARANTEE the blowups we will have when he takes one of our cars when we have somewhere to be, and leaves his garbage and sports stuff festering in it?!?! WWIII. Christ, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

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Oct 27, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

Ahhhhh, I just re-signed up for therapy because my shoes are dropping left and right - my mom died, I turned 50, my kids are teens who constantly need to be in 2 different places at ALL times, and I have to work full time so they can be 2 different places indulging their different interests at all times and I feel like no one, NO ONE, is getting the best of me, including me. Yay middle age.

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I don't know what season I'm in, but I know that it involves throwing away the fundraiser catalogs they keep sending my kid home with. And ignoring the multiple themed dress-up days for conference week. And the BOOK FAIR WALLET, FFS, WHY? We'll just go to Barnes & Noble on the weekend, it's all too much.

Another thing I think about in regards to creativity is that so much of my early impulses were about wanting to be heard. Now I have a partner that makes me feel heard, and most of my creative energy is used trying to find workarounds to two brilliant, willfull children. So lower motivation plus more energy being channeled elsewhere...it makes sense that I'm not writing, I think. As much as I might want to. Very mid indeed. haha

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I still have my pesky ambition but also find it difficult to balance my big plans and ideas with all the little bullshit I have to deal with daily--Halloween, school fall festival, homework, dentist, life etc etc etc. But ALSO, my kids do not do extra curriculars, not really, and I am so relieved that they don't do sports. I hate sports! That bullshit asks entirely too much of the parents to make happen. UGH NOPE.

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Oct 28, 2023Liked by Claire Zulkey

I very much resonate with "driving season" because I keep thinking "I am in cold and flu season." I have a 9-year-old and a (constantly snotty nosed and coughing) 3-year-old and am still getting used to the fact that this means double the life management for kids. Like, "ohhh, you, younger child, also need to go to the doctor? And have speech therapy? And bring things for show and tell? And learn to swim? And have friends whose birthday parties you attend every goddamn weekend?" I think the plus side of my own portal is that I've become far more realistic about what's feasible for us to manage and what we let go of or opt out of. I've also become more realistic about work and what it looks like right now. I remain driven but am also far more content in my current role - because it's one that enables my life to be decently feasible and flexible - than I would have been in the past.

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