Midlife is a time of transition. Our mothers didn’t call it “the change” for nothing. But these are also the wonder years, a time for thinking – about what’s gone before and what’s still to come.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in January, not just about those New Year things I can change in the short term, but about where I am in my own life, the battles I’ve fought, both personally and in order to get my business up and running. I’ve become so much more political than ever before. I care about what “midlife” means for women like us. I relish my role as a PRO AGE warrior. What does reaching this point mean to you?
If you have children – and I appreciate that lots of you don’t, for a whole host of reasons – this is the time they start to leave home. I think about my daughters going out into the world, setting off on their own. It’s hard to watch them leave, but I’m proud of what they’ve become. I’ve invested so much in raising them.
I think about my mother, and how she was younger than I am now when I had my first baby. I think about losing her. This is a time when many of us might be struggling with older parents, our own health, or conflict with partners. It can be hard.
You wonder, too, about what comes next. Your home might suddenly be quieter after years spent surrounded by people. And even as you savour the peace, you miss the crazy, crowded schedule, the many lives that were entwined with yours.
It can feel like there’s so much that falls away as we get older – things that defined us for much of our lives. And you can’t replace what has gone: the parents you loved, that job you adored, the wrinkle-free skin, the thick, glossy hair. What you can do is be grateful for what you had in that moment and celebrate the good stuff that comes next.
Though we might be losing people, youth and time, we’re gaining perspective, wisdom and empathy. This is the moment to start being kinder, both to ourselves and to others, to look more gently on the people around us, and be aware that we are all, every one of us, vulnerable to the challenges that ageing brings.
You might have been impatient, distracted and busy in earlier years. Now you can focus – not just on loved ones, but on yourself.
You might be wondering, in this midlife stage, what defines you – in particular, what defines you as a person in your own right? If you think about the labels we put on ourselves – daughter, wife, mother – they so often relate to others. But who are you really? Now you have the liberty to make that choice.
We can choose to rage at the passing of time, the loss of identity, even our visibility. Or we can run a marathon, get a postgraduate degree, travel to the four corners of the globe.
We can choose to stay relevant – whatever that means to each of us. We can keep learning, absorb art, culture, books, fashion. We can work, exercise, enjoy time with our friends.
There’s so much to wonder about in midlife. Of course, there’s a lot to be grateful for in the years that have gone before. But there’s so much to plan for up ahead, too. In the words of Mary Oliver in her poem The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”