Last summer I had coffee with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a while.
He ordered a double espresso with a side of steamed milk and I had a decaffeinated brew of ginger, mint, and honey.
We had chatted for about 30 minutes, and I was sharing the plans for a friend’s 40th birthday celebration, when all of a sudden he interrupted, “Now I get it! Your birthday is coming up soon! Now I understand all this gluten-free diet, picking up running, the change in your wardrobe. You’re turning 40! How did I miss that? Okay, listen, I need you to do just one thing for me – don’t buy a bike and don’t get a divorce. Okay, so two things.”
We both laughed at his newly found insight of my situation, but as he walked over to the counter to pick up his warmed croissant and I pulled out the bag of nuts from my purse, I stopped to think about his request from me. Don’t buy a bike and don’t get divorced.
Honestly, it hadn’t even crossed my mind.
But, at the same time, I couldn’t help but think how appropriate that request was for this crazy time in one’s life – a time when your soul is sending you in so many different directions, asking you to re-evaluate your boundaries, to try something new, to re-define yourself, to ask questions, to invest in yourself, to insist on getting answers even if they change daily.
DON’T BUY A BIKE AND DON’T GET A DIVORCE
I kept thinking about his words. They sounded very familiar and appropriate, but for some reason, they didn’t stick. Maybe if he had said something more in the lines of “wait on that tattoo” or “are you sure you really want another baby now?” or “how about starting with an 8K and not a full marathon” or even “make sure you have a solid business plan before you launch your new business”. I believe those kinds of tips would have resonated better with me, but we’re not used to hearing them when it comes to a midlife crisis.
When I think about all the midlife crisis “scripts” I’ve read or watched in movies or on TV, they are all about a man deciding to become a bodybuilder, date a woman half his age, and dye his gray hair all while driving around town in his tiny new sports car, which is an obviously sad attempt to compensate for something else.
But where am I in comparison to that? I still drive my old mom car, with the girls’ booster seats in the back. I drop them off at school in the mornings, drive back and forth between all the after school activities every day, shop for groceries, enroll in summer camps, coordinate playdates and doctors’ appointments, delegate between my family and his, help with homework, book babysitters for date nights, etc. So, where does my meltdown fit in? What woman even has time for a midlife crisis?
Looking back at the crazy year I’ve had, the answer seems very easy. EVERYONE. The only difference is that – just like everything else that happens to us – we tend to ignore it, keep it to ourselves. Don’t cry out, don’t break the rules; just keep calm and carry on. I even met an older woman who asked me what a midlife crisis is. “It’s all-natural, a part of life!” she exclaimed.
It took us so long to start sharing with each other how hard giving birth is, how much we adore our children and can’t get enough of them — especially when they finally fall asleep — how postpartum depression is REAL and very common, and that even getting pregnant is, for so many women, the biggest challenge of their lives. It took us time to talk about the fact that even when we feel completely equal, our glass ceiling is so low, and that we will lose and change our identity so many times during our life that we won’t always recognize the person looking back at us from the bathroom mirror.
WELCOME TO YOUR MIDLIFE CRISIS!
So whether you’re the one who in your late 30s or even early 40s who just decided that you have to have another baby, or you’ve realized that you’ve had enough of your boss and never really wanted to be a lawyer and now you’re going to start yoga, or maybe you woke up one morning and realized you’ve been postpartum for 6 years and you want to be noticed again when you’re walking down the street, so you’ve signed up for that 5K that’s 3 weeks away, this blog is for you. You didn’t buy a bike, and you didn’t get a divorce (or did you?), but you are definitely here.
Welcome to your midlife crisis! We’re happy to have you!