Thursday, July 3, 2008

Middlescence

Janie at Midlife Slices is a visiting blogger today. Wherein she gives us a look at her view-with-a-bite of midlife AND a new term for the midyears.

When Allison asked if I'd be a guest blogger on WomenBloom, I happily said yes. Then she said I could blog about something especially for WomenBloom or I could use an older post I particularly liked, and that's when I started chewing my fingernails to the nub and rethinking my decision. Yikes, what to do? After reviewing all my older posts, I realized I didn't "particularly like" any of them so I had to write something new, but what?

I was throwing different subjects around with my husband when I asked him this question. "If mothers of young children are called young mommies and midlifers with all their children grown and gone are empty nesters, what are midlifers who still have young children and grown children called?" He laughed and said..."tired?"

He might have been kidding but it's true. And I'm still asking, what are we called? Anyone? There are lots of us, ahem....whatever you'd like to call us, still attending summer league baseball games, junior high football games, basketball, school events and the likes. Some were empty nesters but were suddenly thrust into the role of raising their grandchildren. I sit in the stands of a sporting event and look around at how young most of the other parents look and then I remember, oh yes, it's me that's out of place in this scenario.

Besides having a 13 year old at home, there's much more to my midlife baggage when you add in 12 grandchildren, 92 and 93 year old in-laws, an 83 year old dad and a 27 year old daughter with a chronic illness. What's the big deal about midlife? I'd just like to HAVE a life, period.


I know I'm not alone as I juggle midlife demands and I think our numbers are steadily growing, so this got me wondering about actual statistics and here's what I found.

(note the sound of crickets) Did you blink? You mean you missed the statistics?

That's right. There aren't many statistics out there for what I was looking for. Sure, I can find how many typical midlifers there are and what our median household income is but nothing I could sink my teeth into and really run with. But I did find other interesting tidbits that I thought I'd share.

It seems midlife is that time of one’s life when we wonder what the first half is or has been about and where we are going during the last half. Last half? *blink blink gulp* Sociologists call this period of disequilibrium "middlescence". Webster’s defines middlescence this way.
mid•dl•es•cence–noun: the middle-age period of life, esp. when considered a difficult time of self-doubt and readjustment.[Origin: 1960–65; b. middle and adolescence]
Self doubt and readjustment? No wonder the word is a combination of adolescence and middle. Great, now we get to deal with the bad and ugly of both worlds while grasping desperately for the good.

The Harvard School of Public Health says Boomers, mid 40s to late 50's, fall into five general categories: Strugglers 9%, Anxious 23%, Traditionalist 25%, Self-Reliant 30% and Enthusiasts 13%. It was disheartening to me to see that over half of us aren't self-sufficient and I'm puzzled as to why that is. We weren't given the world on a silver platter like the Millennial generation so what happened? Maybe we thought we were bullet proof and invincible? Maybe we simply weren't paying attention and thought Woodstock would go on forever? If anyone has the answer to this, please share.

I don't know who Peter Drucker is, but as quoted by Harvard SPH, he makes a good point with these sad, but true words that unfortunately apply to many midlifers:
"When we look back on this era from 100 years out with the perspective history affords, this age will be known not for the internet or biotechnology but for the first time in history we have options of what to do in the second-half of life and were unprepared for it."
Thus, for the first time in history an intentional look at midlife makes sense for an entire adult generation. We need to address the obvious issues such as balancing work and family responsibilities in the midst of the physical and psychological changes associated with aging and believe you me, those physical and psychological changes blindsided this ole’ gal and I'm scrambling to get my bearings and back on solid ground while I have the chance.

I think back to the first time I ever thought about midlife and it was a cold slap of reality that I promptly filed in the back of my brain deep enough I hoped it wouldn't resurface. I was in my early 40's and enjoying a movie of which I wish I could remember the name, but unfortunately I can't.

Anyway, this mother and daughter were arguing about something and the mother used midlife as an excuse for something that was obviously upsetting to her daughter. The daughter rolled her eyes and said "oh please, Mother! How many 120 year old people do you know of out there?"

I did some quick math on my fingers and thought...Oh holy crap! It dawned on me if midlife is a halfway point, then I was more than likely already a midlifer. I shook my head to try to clear that thought out of my brain, but it wouldn't budge no matter how much I tried to pretend I'd never heard those words, so I buried my head in the sand and kept repeating I will always be young, I will always be young, I will always be young.

I stand up and admit I was unprepared for midlife and I'm clambering to catch up to where I feel I need to be right now. I think it's imperative that we find significance in our second half of life even knowing we have no idea how long the second half will be. Mainly I want to wake up in the morning with a greater anticipation of the day ahead and not want to bite the head off a snake because I'm so frustrated when I look in the mirror and a stranger is staring back. But I also want to reflect back on these middle age years and know I did the best I could and have no regrets.

The important thing is to find significance in our second half of life and make the most of those years for our own sake.
Live your life and forget your age.
-- Norman Vincent Peal
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Happy Trails Y'all!

4 comments:

Stepping Thru said...

Here's to Middlescence and all the beautiful women in it!

WomenBloom said...

Yes ma'm! It is an exciting time to be on the adventure!

Allison

Karen said...

Janie--
What a midlife you're leading, girl!! A friend said to me recently that because of wellness and medical technology, midlife -- for many of us -- will be halftime. I had the same "ah-ha" moment you did.

I love your thought-provoking discussion here. I'm also looking for a better term for us to be called than "boomer" which reminds me of some big guy playing football. You might have come up with the answer here.

Karen

WomenBloom said...

Karen,

Oh yeah on the 'boomer' term, no likey. For obvious reasons, I prefer the term 'bloomers', sounds more upbeat and whimsical, and less like a bull in a china closet.

Allison