I am reading the Sunday Life magazine from the The Sun-Herald and I come across an article called "The Female Midlife Crisis". My first instinct is to flip right past it to "Summer Fruits with Bill Granger" (who came up with that title?!), but I can't cook, so ... back to the midlife crisis! Here's the list of signs:
1. Constantly asking yourself: "Am I the person I really want to be?" (Yes!)
2. An overwhelming desire to tackle a desire or goal long forgotten since childhood. (Well, my desires and goals sadly aren't forgotten ... just not achieved. Does that count?)
3. Suddenly wanting another child. (No, no, no, no!!!!!!)
4. A new addiction of anything, from sex to shopping to extreme sport. (Oops ... I've taken up yoga, Latin dancing, blogging, painting.)
5. Unexplained depression, listlessness or lethargy. (I have countless reasons for my depression, so I'm not sure if I fit into this one?)
6. The feeling that you're trapped in a life you don't want. (gulp)
7. Constantly asking yourself: "Is this all there is?" (double gulp)
8. Feeling confronted by mortality, and the wish to live a life of greater meaning. (If this means a fear of death and panic that I haven't achieved anything ... then I guess that's a yes.)
9. Out-of-control emotions. (I don't really need to answer this one.)
10. Unexplained crushes on a bass player from Canada. (At least this is a "no"!)
I like how the list conveniently falls into ten items! I'm wondering now if I chose the wrong title for my blog? Or could it be that I am having a nervous breakdown and a midlife crisis simultaneously? I'm thinking the latter. Don't be dismayed, however, if you find yourself in a similar scenario, the article ends on an upbeat note! Apparently "the midlife crisis is not something to be feared but, rather, embraced". One woman "started doing farm work on a friend's homestead, and now, at 61, she has found love again with an outdoorsman with whom she goes on numerous hiking and adventure trips"!!! Oh, man, I'm screwed! Why do people always find themselves in nature? Nobody ever seems to become enlightened while sipping coffee in Newtown.
The author of the article states that her own solution to the problem was to get pregnant!!!! Good luck with that, I say. I have four children and that hasn't given me purpose or meaning ... just insecurity and doubt!!! I am terrified that one of my kids will be the one on the shopping mall roof with a shotgun, blaming their mother.
Home is Where the Lamington Is
I mistakenly turn to the Telegraph's Sunday Magazine for reassurance!!! Angle Mollard has an article entitled "Living by Instinct". Surely that's more my style! Ironically, she only lists nine things ... nine things her mother taught her. She assures us that to list "10" things would be "too perfect" and not her mother's style. OK, this is promising!
First on the list is: Loving is showing someone they're deeply known. Alarm bells are faintly ringing. Terms like "deeply known" fill me with anxiety! What does that even mean?! I read on. "Going home is like returning to a nest still etched with my imprint. Mum has my favourite jam, books she knows I'll like, a doco recorded. In these gestures, she says, 'I know who you are and what you need'." Arrrrrrrgh! You're kidding me right!!! Ok, it's time for me to summon everything I've learned from yoga and not be judgemental. She obviously has the perfect mother, so good for her!!!!
I move cautiously down the list until I come to number four! Ouch. Celebrate all victories. "Turning 10, a handstand, taking a deep breath when you'd rather scream -- all are clap-worthy. When I'd returned from Mt Everest last year, Mum built a mountain of lamingtons in celebration, not of what I'd achieved, but of who I am." OK now I feel like vomiting!!!!!! How does Angela Mollard move from a handstand to Mt Everest???? I mean does she really think her readers are that daft? One thing I can't deal with is false modesty!!!! A mountain of lamingtons to celebrate who she is? How about NOT mentioning how great she is to celebrate who she is!!!!!!!
Now I'm on a roll. I skip right past Gender isn't important and Solutions aren't found, they're made ... and hit the last item on the list, number nine!!!! This one, I think, should be good ... and it doesn't disappoint: Being your parent is a joy. "In the novel Room by Emma Donoghue, a boy seeing the world for the first time observes how parents act around kids: 'Adults mostly don't seem to like them. They call the kids gorgeous and so cute, they make the kids do the thing all over again so they can take a photo but they don't actually play with them, they'd rather drink coffee talking to other adults.' Blessedly, I've never felt that way."
The last comment is, of course, Angela's response to the kid's observation of adults. Please, Angela, please don't tell me you would rather "play" with your children than have coffee with your friends!!!! I love love love my kids, but the games they play are generally mind-numbingly boring. I used to feel so guilty about not enjoying playing with them until a friend confessed she found it boring, too. That being said, I am willing to concede that maybe I just have kids who aren't very sophisticated, or maybe I'm the one who isn't mature! I am also willing to concede that there are adults out there who love to play with kids. I've seen plenty who look like they are really having fun, not faking it like I've learned to do! What I take issue with is Angela's need to include that comment: "Blessedly, I've never felt that way".
NEVER?????? NEVER EVER?????
The Moral of This Story
I could take many things away from this. I will spare you my list of 10 things ... not even the perfect nine!!! I will sum it up with a measly three:
1. I think I should stop reading newspaper supplements.
2. Maybe I do need to "find myself" in nature, perhaps starting with Mt Everest?
3. I am going to ask my friend what she thinks, over coffee!!!!!
A Final Thought
Why was Ita Buttrose named Australian of the Year????