WHY THIS LIFE STAGE DOES OUR HEADS IN
Once we get to our middle years it’s hard to know where we fit in. We’re trailblazers in our own way, one of the first generations who had to work (or at least many of us did). Hopefully we found work we’re lucky enough to enjoy. But it wears thin. Do we still want keep doing the same work we’ve always done? Do we retire? Retrain? Go part-time?
My parents at my age seemed and looked old. But society has made it that you don’t get old at 50 nowadays. So where do we fit in? What is there for us, what comes next? I don’t know about you but I don’t plan to sit around waiting to become a grandmother. Like many women I had my children late – almost in my 40s in fact. Which means I now have teenagers and still feel young, so I’m not ready to retire or give up on ambition. I’m ready for something new.
““Our parents at our age seemed and looked old””
And perhaps because I’ve worked I’ve always had a social life outside the house and that matters to me a great deal. Being a mum isn’t everything. Going out and seeing friends and having fun has always been equally important. And that just continues, especially now the kids are becoming independent. I’m not ready for gardening and coffee mornings. Actually I don’t think I ever will be.
We’re very different from our mothers. My mum was always saying ‘When am I going to be a grandmother?’ Once we left home, me and my siblings, Mum didn’t have anything to focus on. She was very domesticated, the house was always spotless, but I’ve never been that way at all. Because I’m a working mum I’ve neither had the time nor the inclination to plump cushions. And I’m in no rush for slippers, housecoat and grandkids either.
So really at this age we’re searching for our next role and it’s yet to be defined. What would I do if I wasn’t working? I need to give myself the space to find out. When we’re younger we’re full of ideas and ambition, but then all the things we can’t foresee like health issues, marriage, children and financial pressures, change us. Inevitably circumstances dictate that we end up accepting compromise and applying the brakes. What would we do if we took the brakes off?
““What would I do if I wasn’t working? I need to give myself the space to find out””
Women our age have got it good, but there is a restlessness. Yes, we’re healthier and fitter and don’t look our age, we know how to enjoy our lives and we’re not done yet. But while we may look (and in some cases act) young, we know how many candles are on our next birthday cake. We’re not kids but we don’t want to be treated like old ladies. Some days we feel invisible. And some of us are stuck, which means it’s not an exciting time when it should be. And it’s hard not to envy younger women and their burgeoning confidence. In spite of #metoo and all the advances made towards gender equality, while for younger women it’s a game-changing era, for our age group it’s a time of feeling restless and uncertain.
And I don’t have the solution.