When my husband said, “Middle age is the richest time,” I thought, “No way.” Too often, middle age feels like loss—of youth, of a sense of possibility, of elders I love.
No denying, those really are jowls, and since I’m not inclined to have plastic surgery, they’re here to stay. Lovely.
The big 6-0 isn’t that far off and I meant to have accomplished more—published more for sure.
My 92-year-old Mom is slipping a lot faster. Her short-term memory has gone on strike, so we have the same conversations again and again. “Are you coming for the baby shower? No Mom, I can’t. I’ll be in Arizona that weekend,” and the next day, “Are you coming to the baby shower? No, Mom . . . ” At 90, she managed her household and finances. Now her kids take care of that. To be expected, but still. I miss her smart competent self.
As Dad, who died three years ago would say, “Aging isn’t for the faint of heart.” No kidding.
So I had to know why my husband, who isn’t prone to positive affirmations or yippee-skippiness of any sort, would say middle age is the richest time.
As each of our sons approached their senior year in college, leaving college for the so-called “real world” looked scary to them. My 22-year-old self was panicky, “Whoa, I gotta get serious. I gotta get a plan. But I don’t have a clue.”
When each son moved to his first apartment, I recalled how much fun it was to make a place my own. Like mine, their places were furnished with a combination of hand-me-downs and the discount store shower curtain and towels they chose for themselves.
When they talk about their girlfriends, I remember the low hum of excitement I felt when I was going out with someone new. I know what a milestone it is to realize that even though I had a fight with the guy I was dating, we worked through it and we were still together.
So from the vantage point of middle age, I think, “Yes, it is a rich time. I’ve experienced so many things. I know so much more about life. My guys will figure it out too as they get older.”
Then the glow of that wisdom and those fine memories fades a little. I think of Mom again and dread her loss and the loss of my own capabilities as I age. I tell my husband, “I look at Mom and I’m afraid I’ll be just like her. I forget stuff now!” He wisely says, “Yeah, but your 90’s are a lo o n n ng way off. Don’t waste today worrying about what may or may not happen tomorrow.”
So I pull back from the brink. This man, this life. I am rich.
How do you view middle age? If you’re not there yet, what do you expect? If you’re already middle-aged, what’s it look like?