Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yeah, it's a mid-life crisis!

Turning forty was fine for me.

Okay, well, there was a little anxiety.

A little.

I decided to be thirty-ten for a while, but after only a few hours, it had gotten old. It wasn't cute. Neither was I.

Still, it was fine and not too troubling. Inside I still felt twenty, so what difference did it make?

That was before my daughter's twentieth birthday began looming. It's still more than two months away, but I find myself flashing back more often to my pregnancy with her, the unusual warmth of that spring, and my own innocent youth.

I've occasionally struggled with the idea that I am my mother's age (isn't she 40? 38? Something like that), but this is the first time I have struggled with the idea that I am my daughter's age. Those who say that age is "just a number" are partially right. Age is also in the perception. Old is relative. We all know the old saw - you're only as old as you feel. How do we perceive ourselves? How do I perceive myself?

I find it odd and fascinating that I can consider myself a peer to both my daughter and my mother when 48 years separate the two of them. Perhaps that's what they mean by "sandwich generation." I can relate to Kayla; I can relate to Mom. I feel the experiences of both and can nod and smile and say, "I know just what you mean."

This feeling is not unwelcome. I'm glad to know there are still new feelings to explore, that the dusty past can become new again seen through someone else's eyes. How, though, to reconcile that my oldest, my first baby, is about to leave her teens? She has her own life, her own chapters to write, her own feelings to explore and sort. She has dreams, beautiful, blue-skied dreams, and my only dream for her is that she's happy.

No one has ever been able to adequately define a mid-life crisis for me, and I've thought fleetingly in recent years that I was having one. I wasn't. I am now. I no longer need others' definitions, because I'm grappling with the bewilderment of mid-life right now, myself, trying to figure out where I fit in.

Mom turned sixty-eight yesterday. Kayla's careering toward twenty. Somewhere in between, I'm still the middle child.