I never realized how treacherous the forties would be; it’s like walking along on familiar solid ground and then coming to a huge river and the only way to cross it is on one of those flimsy rope bridges that twist and sway and have boards missing. You really have to pay attention and watch your step or you’ll slip through and get washed downriver.
Or like being on a roller coaster you’ve never ridden before, so you don’t know what’s on the other side of the rise. But you can’t get off – you just have to hang on and try not to get thrown out. It’s kind of scary yet exhilarating.
It’s a sad time, a confusing time, a silly time, a loving time. I feel more confident, more headstrong, more ornery, more impatient, and at the same time, more loving, more understanding, more forgiving.
It’s a time of change: for years leading up to it, you’re pretty stable. You think you know yourself, know what’s ahead and what to expect, and then suddenly, you realize you have changed. Perhaps you have a different opinion about something you’ve been sure about for years, or one day you love beer, and the next day, you don’t (it happened to me!).
I never understood what was meant by “the change” in a woman’s life until now. I thought it just had to do with that major physical part which I’m sure I learned about abstractly in junior high health class (and then had reinforced a few years later when I asked my grandmother if she had any tampons and she just laughed at me.).
I realize I underestimated the power of hormones.
…Surprised. That’s a good word to describe how I’ve felt the last few years. Surprised that I’m this old, almost fifty. (How did that happen?) Surprised that I now prefer wine to beer. Surprised that in some ways I feel like a teenager again, stripped back down to that essence, having a feeling that anything is possible, but at the same time, being very aware of my age. Surprised that, after all the diets I’ve tried in my life and after resigning myself to a midlife weight gain, I lost weight instead.
I don’t think it’s all hormonal – well, I think the beer thing is - but a lot of it has to do with the sudden awareness of my age – where I’ve been, what I’ve experienced, what I’ve done, and what I still want to do. It’s not just about living, but about experiencing life, fulfilling dreams...and continuing to make a difference in someone else's life.
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.” (Joyce Maynard, American writer, present day)
"The great thing about getting older is you don't lose all the other ages you've been." (Madeleine L'Engle)
P.S. I just stumbled upon Midlife's a Trip, a blog that seems to address everything I just wrote about. Check out Karen's story. Very inspiring. She says, "Midlife isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself."