I’m not ready for this “middle-aged” business.
This thought comes with two heavy sighs and one face palm, as I prepare to do what one month ago I swore to my editor I would not – share my age. Now, now, fellow middle agers, before you send that e-mail or worse shoot me a text let me explain.
We live in a world and I work in a business of vanity. While much of my work is read more than seen, there is occasion where both do come into play. Ageism is alive and well and while I have never been one to shy from sharing openly my age, recently I came to recognize its potential for hurting me professionally speaking.
Like most things in my everyday life, that moment of concern was fast and fleeting. I tend to be an against the grain type of lady. The truth of the matter is, this year I will be fifty – yes, the big 5-0. The beauty of this of course is that I do not feel my age, whatever that means. I think I look pretty good for hitting my fifth decade and from a health standpoint, I’m in better shape now than when I started this gig at the tender age of 34. So to the age discriminators, bring it.
Yes, yes, I know dear cynics for some (including my own family members) 50 is not the mark of “middle age.” I however plan to live fully and do not scoff for one moment at the notion of living to 100. I’m an older mom; I have a lot of life both left in me, as well as to live.
My struggle, or shall I say recently acknowledged reality, is the life changes middle age brings and I’m not referring to the physical. I’m speaking to the transition point. The true “middle” as we continue to care and nurture our children and begin to face the topic of mortality in the way of the elders we’ve always held dear.
To translate or put this in plain speak – that sucks.
We have entered the chapter of comforting friends when parents fall ill, rallying at their sides as they make sense of a loss or worse yet cry ourselves to sleep as we try on those same shoes. I’m just not ready for this. As I share consistently in this space, how I am not eager for my kids to grow, I’m equally unexcited for this phase of mortality.
Truthfully, I remember my mom journeying through it as the youngest child from a family of 12. She was the youngest when her parents passed and she now struggles, as she watches her siblings grow older (as she does as well). Yet somehow I never saw this coming. Tragically, I’ve attended my fair share of services for friends and loved ones taken much too soon from this planet, so perhaps I thought I was prepared. I was wrong.
One by one, we are becoming caretakers, part-time nurses when needed, hospital advocates and yes at times voices of reason, as our parents equally struggle with their new phase as well.
It’s just not fun, but welcome to life.
That’s the point of it all isn’t it? Four simple letters that make up one big book – life. Whether we are celebrating a sweet 16, an adult celebration of 21 or middle age at the prime age of 50, it’s all about life.
So, as I sit in the “middle,” reflect back and look ahead, I can’t help but think what do I choose? I can choose to face it as Eeyore or Tigger or maybe Christopher Robin on a slight occasion (that’s a great song).
What I know for sure is that the next 50 as Eeyore will be treacherous and exhausting. Oh sure, elements of Tigger may offer exhaustion as well, but that’s a more well -earned exhaustion.
For today, tomorrow and the next day, I’ll do my best to be grateful and mindful for the moments we are given and the memories to be made. At the end of it all, that is, after all, what is the best of all legacies – the lives that we touch and the memories the world is left with.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.