You might have seen a theme to many of my posts in the past year: I turned 40. For me, turning 40 was kind of a big deal. It’s a big deal because it is a turning point, at least for me, in perspective. But it has also been a turning point in my motherhood, because all my children are now on the planet. One of them is entering teenager territory. Another is following fast in his footsteps. And my youngest child, my baby, is turning 3 next week. Having two adolescents in the house and closing in on eliminating diapers from my Amazon Subscribe ’n Save list forever has me a little disconcerted, truth be told.
The latest addition to my midlife pivot? I took a job. I am now Editor-at-Large and a regular contributor for a relatively new site called The Mid. The Mid was launched with some very impressive, talented, creative people behind it, and I could not be prouder to be part of that team. It’s devoted to “life in the messy middle” – basically, my people, the GenX parents of now who are leaving their 30s and facing The Rest of Their Lives.
Are you in the Mid? I am. Let me tell you how I know:
1. I see commercials for Activia and I think, “I wonder if I need that?” and then I think, “Nahhhh.”
2. My (young) hairdresser high fives me when she only counts three gray hairs. I try to match her enthusiasm, but then I say, “Wait. Is it, like, an accomplishment to only have three gray hairs?” Because… that’s depressing.
3. I find myself squinting at the television or at menus, and the two competing thoughts duking it out in my head while I squint away are “Squinting causes wrinkles!” and “Why can’t I see that better?” and I am not sure which one worries me more.
4. I’m eating half as much as I ever did before I turned 40 and I’m not losing weight. Every Cadbury mini egg is like the silver bullet of belly fat death to me now. Boo.
5. When I go to Target, I walk right past Xhilaration and Mossimo and head straight to Merona. Merona is now where I live, and I am okay with that.
6. But I am NOT old enough for Chico’s yet, so just back away with your travel-friendly, unnaturally wrinkle-free drapey clothes, friend.
7. I love my husband, but I would pretty much knock him down with both elbows if either Adam Levine OR Jake from Sixteen Candles appeared anywhere in our vicinity.
8. My first thought when I look at shoes is, Are they comfortable?
9. I need anti-anxiety meds just to take phone calls I am not expecting. If my children’s school calls, I need them to tell me right away that nothing has happened to my kids. If my parents call, I need my mom to tell me right away that nothing is wrong with my dad. If my friends call out of the blue, I no longer suspect they are going to tell me they are pregnant; instead, I worry they are going to tell me they have cancer.
10. Songs like “Landslide” make me cry, not just because of my own aging or my children’s, but mostly because of my parents’.
11. I’m pretty sure that I am having a Netflix-fueled midlife crisis. First, I watched every Friends ever and relived my college days and twenties through the evolution of slipdresses, overalls, ribbed turtlenecks, and face frame haircuts. Then, I dove right into an orgy of Alias and all the Jennifer Garner (and, hi, Michael Vartan AND Bradley Cooper in the same show) awesomeness I could handle, all the while trying to pretend that Scandal isn’t totally ripping off Alias‘s mommy issue storylines. Now, Jennifer Garner and I both have baby bumps that are never going away. Jen, I feel you. It’s the Cadbury mini eggs, in my case (oh, and the babies. all the babies).
12. Instead of spending Sunday mornings hungover and watching Lifetime movies in bed all day like I did in my twenties, I spend Sunday mornings hoping When Harry Met Sally might be on TBS so I can recite every line, usually completely un-hungover. But let’s be real: I can never watch anything uninterrupted anymore.
13. I have embraced a skincare regimen and eyeliner, two practices I successfully avoided far longer than I probably should have, though I am not good at either.
14. I feel like Kevin Bacon and I could totally talk about mutual friends over a long dinner.
15. I love the Internet and technology and I even love social media, but it all still scares the crap out of me a bit.
16. My husband and I have running mental lists of movies our children need to see and books they need to read before they grow up. My list includes To Kill a Mockingbird and Dead Poets Society; his Tommy Boy and Fletch. I think we have covered all the bases.
17. I don’t care if he won an Oscar. He will always only ever be Jordan Catalano to me.
18. I used to worry about being a failure. Now I worry about Alzheimer’s and cancer, but not necessarily for myself.
19. I am continually surprised that my parents look older in person than they do in my head.
20. I no longer fantasize about looking like Hollywood actresses. Instead, I fantasize about being as funny or badass as Amy & Tina. But even if I am not, I am just glad they are.
21. High school and college reunions have ceased to be events where everyone is assessing each other or analyzing relative achievements or BMIs. Now, everyone seems genuinely just happy to see each other and be together. We have grown up. We no longer care about comparing. We are parents, and we get it now: life is hard, and we are lucky to still have the people who knew us when we were young to remind us of who we were. We cherish those people for being witnesses to our youth and for knowing parts of our stories we would otherwise forget.
22. How fast it is all going feels both energizing and paralyzing. I want to live in the Right Now, but I often feel swept up in all the details of daily life. I find comfort in knowing others who are in this place with me.
So if you too are in The Mid, come check us out (on Facebook, too!). And say hi. Because I don’t know about you, but I have decided that this life of mine is all about people and connections and kindred spirits, and I am always happy to find another person who says, “Me too.”