Texts between my stepson and I went like this: “can u think of a name 4 a blog I want to write?” “what wd u write about?” “womens issues middle aged women like me” he texts back immediately “Middlepause”. Then he texts “but I’ll think sum mor”.
Nearly every day since, I’ve had at least a passing thought on the irony. That this peak of health climbing the career ladder everything to look forward to (both good and bad) young man came up with a name that so completely speaks to the issue. The things he can’t know because of his age and the things he won’t know because of his gender.
He’s at an age where he still believes that the teenage and adult woes he, his friends, coworkers and siblings had/have won’t befall his children because he’ll parent differently. Then they get to middle aged with grown children who are just human, with some big problems and some little problems, like all the rest of the world.
He’s of a gender where the obsession with young women’s bodies, their boobs, the natural colored waist length hair, their smooth skin just means he gets the joy of looking at them. Not trying to be them. He’ll never look at his sagging boobs and wonder if he should risk his health and drain his bank account in order to wear a spaghetti strap tank top or strapless dress.
He’s at an age where “age” doesn’t close any doors. The first time age closed a door I was only in my thirties. A single parent, struggling financially, I thought the military reserves might be interesting and provide a second income. “To late” the recruiter said. I had just passed the age cutoff to enlist. That affected me a lot for a while. It was shocking. For a long time I wondered what other opportunities I’d let pass by that I was now too old for.
He’s of a gender where the chances that he’ll be concerned about or competing with men near half his age for the affections and attention of the woman he loves are almost zero. The longing associated with young women will be totally different for him at 50 than it is for me at 50.
He’s at an age where so many things still matter to him and where he has the energy for them. He’ll get passionate about injustice. He’ll ponder discussions with his boss on his way home from work and wonder what it means to him and his future. He’ll work hard all day and have energy left over for friends and hobbies and children.
Here, in the middle of the pause that’s in the middle I’m asking myself “what am I too old for”? Or “what am I still young enough for?” Then I ask myself the real questions of the middle: “what do I actually care enough about to put my time and energy into?” “How do I want to spend the next part of my life?”