Whether you want to call it a “crises" or “personality maturation", it is without a doubt a very interesting time in the span of one’s life. Interesting is maybe not the best way to describe high blood pressure, hormone replacement, poor vision, hearing loss (only in the husbands, of course) and lack of free time, energy, cash and holidays. It makes me laugh to think of how the highlight of one’s day is getting a good spot on the couch to catch the next episode of Corner Gas, Everybody Loves Raymond, or the Red Green Show. Everyone needs a bit of laughter for the soul.
How does one define ‘mid-life’? I used to think that 50 was mid-life, but that would be assuming life expectancy is 100. Realistically, we are looking at mid life years falling between the mid thirties and mid fifties. During these transitional years, one’s focus changes. There is less time to take care of ‘self’, but more time and energy goes into bringing up the generation behind you. All of a sudden you find yourself at your last child’s graduation, then the empty nest, working harder, longer hours to put the kids through post-secondary education. While those years were flying by, the generation ahead of us has aged, and our focus needs to change once again.
I never imagined being at this stage, looking back and witnessing such change. Graduating in the seventies was a great accomplishment, and all you needed to get a good job. For the guys, it was not unusual to quit school early to work and/or help on the family farm. One could easily exist on minimum wage. There was little to be concerned with in what would happen to our aging grandparents, it was assumed we would visit them in the old folks home, whereas now more and more families are assuming that responsibility. More commonly now as well, are parents experiencing the ‘boomerang’ effect with children leaving home, and coming back because of financial stress, due to the high cost of living, low income or the heavy burden of student loans. It is easy to understand where the term “sandwich generation" came from, as we find ourselves caught between demands of both generations. Although that may seem unfair at times, I believe that this is the most stable time of our lives, when our experiences and growth bring us closer to “Personality Maturation". Maybe it is time to take the “crises" out of mid-life, and just be grateful that we have family, that we are needed, loved and appreciated.
I heard an interesting quote recently that seemed to sum this all up quite well, “you can clearly follow the threads as they continue up the years and add their character to the entire life pattern". Sometimes these threads are woven vertically, straight, or across the fabric, sometimes they unravel and fray but the cloth remains. Life experience and maturity are woven in until the weave is complete. Just maybe some pieces of this tapestry of our lives will be passed along to the next generations just as a family heirloom would.