Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I mean, me. Who the hell is me?

My older kids are at their father’s this week, and my husband is out of town working. So it’s just me and the baby. And during the normal work week, I don’t get to spend much time with her – she wakes up, goes to daycare, and crashes shortly after she comes home. So I’m alone this week, for long periods of time. This doesn’t happen very often – as you can imagine… I have four kids, a husband with high energy, a dog and a cat. I don’t even get to piss unaccompanied, because the dog follows me, perhaps hoping he’ll get to chew the empty toilet paper roll THIS TIME. My husband is the type who thinks out loud, so frequently, I’m sitting beside him silently, wrapped up in my own thoughts, and he blurts out some non sequitur that I then frantically try to interpret. I try to nap sometimes, to get some quiet, but someone is always barging in – complaining about something. Or the tv gets turned up so loud, I pull a pile of pillows over my head to block the noise. Or the dog jumps on the bed and attempts to sleep on my feet, which drives me absolutely batshit crazy. My husband has been known to interrupt my nap to discuss our income taxes.

But this week, I have that quiet. I get the peace I’ve craved. I’ve got time to do what *I* want to do without considering anyone else's desires. Well, except the baby’s, but she desires a clean diaper, some snuggles, and a nice warm bottle. Easy Peasy. So what do I do with all this time – with this opportunity I’ve craved?

You know the answer to this. It’s not so hard. What do I do?


Nothing at all.

This is not the week I study French, to brush up on my skills. This is not the week I rent a French horn, to experience the pure joy of playing again. This is not the week I start my novel. Nor is it the week I start training for the marathon. But it is the week that I start researching womens' midlife crises.

Here’s a quote I pulled from Wikipedia (which is NOT A RELIABLE SOURCE, my kids tell me… but whatever.. this one doesn’t seem too far off the mark):

Individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis have some of these feelings:

  • search of an undefined dream or goal
  • a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
  • desire to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
  • need to spend more time alone or with certain peers

A man I know (NOT my hubby, in case you are wondering...)is going through this in a very destructive manner – his crisis is a classic. He doesn’t seem to realize he’s in a typical midlife thing. He thinks it’s a "truly new in the universe" type of personal reinvention. Dork. It is said that for women, the midlife crisis isn’t quite as violent. Men tend to wake up one day and realize they are old. Women are constantly reminded that they are aging ...tick tock tick tock goes that clock. So women aren’t quite as surprised by it.

My midlife “thing” seems pretty typical too:

I am in search of a dream or a goal – one that is sort of defined, but the path to it is anything but…

I don’t really have a sense of remorse for goals not accomplished. I just realize time’s a wastin’.

I do desire to achieve a feeling of youthfulness. I want a tummy tuck, to run a marathon and to put my tits back where they belong.

I do desire to spend more time alone with a certain peer – my husband.

I don’t want to throw out the whole kit and caboodle. I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water, cut off my own nose to spite my face, nor do I want to stretch any other clichés further past their elastic limits…

I just want to redirect a bit.

Here’s a quote from a really cool article Time magazine article by Leslie Whitaker:

Many feel that along the way, while they were getting their promotion or having their kids or managing their households, they set aside something important that they want to retrieve--their hiking boots, their screenplay, a law degree. "Everybody I know has a version of this," says Susan Reimer-Torn, now a life coach in New York City. "Phase I, you kind of put all the pieces together in your mid- or late 20s, and it almost always involves some kind of trade-off. You figure out what you absolutely must have and end up giving up something else. But in Phase II, which generally occurs after 40, many women begin to review the terms of that original trade-off. If there's a Phase III, it may be taking your life in a whole new direction. Often a collision of the personal and professional triggers the reinvention.

So I guess I’m at Phase II – I happily gave up traveling, novel writing, many hobbies and goals to focus on my family in Phase I. Wouldn’t do it any differently if I had a choice. But now, I’m in a better place. I make more money – I’m smarter – I’m wiser. I can juggle more, and I know myself much better. I’m reviewing the terms of the original trade-off.

…which brings me to the next question – for myself, and for YOU, gentle reader. What precious thing was sacrificed earlier in life that there is now a desire to reclaim? What goal was put aside that now needs to be nudged back to the front and center of your attention?

I’ll be chomping on this question, and will share more in a future blog. But if you don’t mind too much… how about you chomp too and share with me your thoughts in the comments section?

Merci Beaucoup mes amis.


  1. For me, the greatest loss has been that of my own personal time and sense of self. In my 20s I was busy having children, finishing my education, and getting started on those life investments, such as paying off cars and getting mortgages.

    My 30s have been full of unexpected crises. We moved to Missouri for Tom to go to law school (I was sure he'd get in to SMU or Baylor) therefore my PhD was put on hold for several years. My father was a crime victim who sustained a traumatic brain injury. I've spent a lot of time in quick "fix-it" trips to Alabama to help him and my mother. My middle son has developed some learning issues that create a lot of work for me. Tom decided to open his own law office without amassing a savings first (after all, I'd carried the family for 3 years, I could do it again...) and now works long hours and is seldom available except for on the weekends (when I work).

    I know this sounds whiny and I don't mean it to be - but I always thought that being responsible at an earlier age in my life would pay dividends later. We've never been horribly in debt because we've always cut back - meaning we've taken few vacations, gone to few concerts, and bought few recreational items. In return, I expected that we would be able to pare back our responsibilities as we got older.

    Now that's not the case. Recently I took my own vacation - drove north to Iowa and Wisconsin. Wandered to places that I wanted to experience. I was only gone for 3 days, but it was really a bit of a life-changing experience. For once, I didn't have to be responsible to anyone but myself. I found it hard to really cut loose - something that I might have been able to do easier at a younger age. While it was enjoyable, it mostly served as a way to reflect and decide a new direction.

    I feel for you - I've felt that I was having a mid-life crisis as well. There's so much I can't go back and do and experience. Hopefully, there will be a counterbalance in that we'll find opportunities that wouldn't have been available at an earlier age or without the life experience we've amassed.

  2. So you mean that coasting along, not having a defined goal or path is the wrong way to go? Hmmm, better get to work on that...

    I tried sacrificing travel, parties, and all that fun stuff you do just after college for a husband and the possibility of a family while I was still in college. We all know how that worked out, right? So then I did some traveling and partying, just a few years later than most of my peers. Then I gave up traveling, and scuba diving (my favoritest thing in the world) and went to law school. Mostly because I got bored at work one day. Really!

    In law school I made some amazing friends, but couldn't find a job after graduation. I did find an awesome husband there, so it was a generally positive experience.

    Now, I've finally found a job, have a husband, am child free by choice, and travel.

    I wonder what I'm going to desire as part of my mid-life crisis. A red Corvette? Nah, already enjoyed one when Danny had his mid-life crisis. Travel? Maybe, but Dann and I are planning quite a few trips over the next few years.

    I'm really afraid that it might involve more school. Lots more school as it involves science, which I avoided as much as possible the first time around so I'd have to completely start over again. There would be scuba diving though...

  3. On some occasions I wish I had pursued medicine as was my original intent. But there are aspects of engineering that I enjoy as well. I shelved my career for nearly 10 years and have only begun delving into what I might do next in the past 2 years. I've found I enjoy sales and marketing, but don't like most sales jobs. At present I'm trying to go back to the career I put on hold when I had that 2nd baby. Like you, I wouldn't trade the time with my babies for anything in the world. But I occasionally feel a twinge of envy when I talk to professional women who did NOT stop working to have babies. I'm a little sad that my new work peer group is now 10 years (or more!)younger than I am, and some of them STILL don't have a lick of common sense! When I quit my sales job, homeschooled my kids and bought a travel trailer, I thought I MIGHT be having a crisis. Turns out I just wanted to try something different. And I loved all of it and now it's time to do something ELSE different. I agree - we women are always changing, so it's not like any of this comes as a huge shock. I look forward to reading YOUR answers!

  4. I've wondered recently, as I am more willing to try things than before (like Panic PLunge and roller coasters), if I wasn't experiencing some kind of mid-life crisis. Given the rapid life-altering changes I've experienced in the past two years, I decided that regardless of what it was, I'd just be gentle with myself.

    I have no idea what I gave up for my family. I honestly don't remember.. I used to want to join the Peace Corps.. I'm considering a mission trip to Taiwan next year with our church.. maybe when Kayleigh starts 1st grade, going back to school.. I don't know..

    I do get that feeling of not quite knowing your SELF though..