I’m having a midlife crisis.
People talk a lot about male midlife crises. The sports cars. The buxom bimbos. The gold chain nestled in overflowing grey chest hair.
Somewhere in their middle years, men come to the sudden and bewildering realisation that they won’t live forever. Rather than face into that blatantly obvious fact of life, men start popping little blue pills, convinced that young women want to see their naked dad bods. They parade about like a bunch of elderly peacocks, imagining that they’re still in their 20’s, full of virility and hard as rocks.
Nobody talks about the female midlife crisis. My midlife crisis. There are no clever memes or SNL sketches poking fun of my midlife anguish. No, I’m meant to silently sob it out in the shower, and then dry off and slather my skin with the latest face cream so that no one is the wiser.
The female midlife crisis starts from the same ‘not immortal’ realisation, but runs in the opposite direction. We aren’t going to live forever, so we sit back and take stock of our lives. We think to ourselves, “Can I put up with this shit for another 40 years?” Anything that lands in the no pile gets tossed on a driveway bonfire and covered in gasoline.
I totally understand why men downplay the female crisis. Who wants to admit that there comes a time when women get fed up with being the dirty carpet under everyone else’s feet. The guys edit this fact out of books and movies and hard pass on those articles that hint at it. They greenlight another project about women and wine glasses, hoping we’ll drink ourselves into oblivion and forget the facts staring us right in the face.
But we women don’t talk too much about this either. The reason for it is simple embarrassment. We tie it up with hormones and hot flashes, and suddenly you can’t admit to being sick of shit without someone asking if you’re going through the change.
WE ARE, LADIES. WE ARE.
As part of my midlife crisis, I’ve decided to embrace the night sweats and lack of patience for the gifts that they are. As my estrogen levels drop, so does my interest in being walked all over and taken for granted.
If my 20’s were “the more the merrier” and my 30’s were “please, tell me I’m not alone”, my 40’s are “don’t waste my time”. Judgy Facebook groups, the PTA mom cliques, that one lady who always tries to one-up me… and don’t even get me started on the moochers. No, I can’t pick up your kid after school every day.
A woman’s midlife crisis is the golden opportunity to weed out anyone and anything that takes more than it gives. Maybe it’s a crappy job with too many long hours and late nights. Maybe it’s that male doctor who doesn’t think perimenopause is real. We’ve been cutting calories and restricting portion sizes for 30 years of our lives – we know how to eliminate things which give us pleasure. Now’s the time to hold onto the chocolate cake and put the judgy old husbands out to pasture.
Do we really want to spend another 40 years of our life feeling guilty because we bumped baby’s head on the edge of the car seat? The crisis here is that we’ve already wasted a ton of time feeling guilty for our inability to achieve perfection.
Batwings and neck wrinkles come for all us. Every kid is somehow screwed up, none of us get it 100% right and all children rebel at some point. And yet, we still feel guilty! Guilt is the single most useless emotion. Just stop that shit.
I intend to spend my golden years cracking jokes in the nursing home and not ever holding back from telling it like it is. That means I’ve got to stop feeling guilty for having an opinion and being imperfect. It may have taken me 40+ years to get here, but it’s never too late to accept that I have a place and a voice in this world, and the right to use them shamelessly.
So long laundry mountain
The last part of my midlife crisis is a crisis of faith. And by faith, I mean I’m struggling to believe that these kids can survive without me. If I am accepting that I won’t be here forever and I want to enjoy more the time I have left, I certainly can’t do that from the top of laundry mountain.
I’ll spend my middle years teaching my loin fruit to do more. More laundry, more grocery shopping. More responsibility for their math homework. When it comes time to shove them out of the nest, they’ll know how much detergent to use and that no one will cry to the teacher on their behalf.
Here I am, age 42, and I’m having my midlife crisis. I’m not ashamed to admit it. It feels like a breath of fresh air in my life, a welcome change from the old hot flashes. It’s taken me six months, but I’ve learned to put up with less and focus on getting more.
The male midlife crisis can often be spotted sitting in the driveway. The female crisis isn’t much different. But instead of a sports car, I’ve got a lot of old baggage sitting out at the curb, gassed up and waiting for the match to light it all on fire.