It’s not your parents’ midlife crisis.

Hey, how’s your midlife crisis going? Mine’s great, thanks for asking. I can no longer read anything on my phone, my teeth are cracking by the day, I question every decision I’ve made since I was twenty-one, oh, and this is key, I’ve taken to wearing a flower in my hair. Why? I have no idea, but my hair is like the only thing I’ve got going for me and so accenting it seems like a smart move.

Welcome to the Modern Midlife Crisis – as complicated as our information seeking, overly analytical, Reality Bites generation.

It’s not your parents’ midlife crisis because your parents had kids way younger than you did, didn’t subscribe to pop-psychology and generally didn’t overthink anything. They didn’t sit up late at night worrying if their parenting choices were ruining their kids. They didn’t have access to 453 Facebook posts a day with conflicting ideas about how to self-improve and self-actualize. They were blissfully unaware those terms existed. They gave parenting and relationships about as much thought as they gave cars – when it can’t be fixed, get a new one.

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But we had kids late. I just turned 44 and I have a 2nd grader. And I’m not alone. Some of you still have kids in pre-school…you know who you are. This compounds the midlife crisis because instead of contemplating your half way point of life with your kids off and gone, you are doing it and still going to Field Day. How are you still going to Field Day? I will be a stunning 55 when my youngest leaves for college. That’s not empty nesting, that’s crypt keeping. I’ll give you a minute to do your math. (Spoiler Alert: You are going to be working until the day you die.)

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Also, our generation loves the psycho-babble, the Dr. Philing, the “reading” of self-help books on marriage and parenting. I use quotations around reading because at best you’ve skimmed the dusty how-to books in your house. Most sit in a pile next to your bed that you’ll get to as soon as you finish binging on Breaking Bad. I’ll just say it…I never actually read a word of Chapman’s, “The 5 Love Languages” book until the other day. I realized I’d been telling people the wrong love language…not that it mattered. It’s Quality Time, by the way. And, I can assure you that our parents didn’t give a crap about anyone’s love language.

The reality is that the Modern Midlife Crisis is far more complex to solve. It’s gonna take more than a convertible sports car and a one off at the Lamplighter Motel for this generation.

So what exactly is the Modern Midlife Crisis? Well, according to me, and keep in mind I’m a blogger, writing this in my kitchen while drinking wine, it’s a cross section of the following:

  1. A sudden and imposing crystallization of your mortality, typically brought on by the untimely death of a parent
  2. A nagging curiosity of the path you didn’t take and all the cool things you will never do because of money, fear, or a general sense of laziness.
  3. An oppressive feeling of being underappreciated/invisible
  4. An aforementioned sharp decline in vision and the cracking of the teeth, even though you have tenderly coddled them with years of brushing and flossing. (Your teeth are like the honey badger…they don’t care.)

Vision and Teeth
The vision and the teeth cracking, although both correctible, are enough to catapult you directly into a midlife funk and make you doubt the very existence of a semi-intelligent god. I’ve often said that no omnipotent, or even Junior College smart, god would make teeth so weak and vulnerable. I’m never so sure there is no god than when I’m getting a fresh new crown. But, this is the least of your worries. I’m sure you look super sexy in your teeth grinding mouth guard. ~Cringe~

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The Death Complex
Let’s skip right to the death complex. The minute your parent dies, you take on their death age. Don’t argue with me here unless you’ve been through it. I’m aware it makes no sense, but mine is 66. Which technically makes me long passed middle aged and in my twilight years, most of which will, apparently, be spent at field day. This thinking is exactly what sells wine.

But it’s not so much knowing that you are going to die that makes the Modern Midlife Crisis modern, it’s that you aren’t allowed to be pissed off about aging anymore. You have to be thankful and write lists about how grateful you are on Facebook, that, and I’m sorry to be the one to say it, no one is reading. You have to “like” memes that reinforce that getting old is super awesome. You know what’s super awesome? Being young. And if you complain about your age on your birthday, some jackass “someone has a case of the Mondays” saying asshole will say, “It sure beats the alternative.” I wish someone would punch that person in the face.

Basically, we are all just sitting around waiting to get cancer…to find out which flavor we are queued up to fight and then tragically succumb to. It’s like at high school reunions we used to ask each other what we did for a living and now we are like, “Hey, did you get your cancer yet?”

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The Path Not Taken
But newsflash…you are alive and well, so you can say goodbye to that pesky Midlife Crisis, right? Wrong. You have HGTV and they have a show called House Hunters International that exists only to show you how every single decision you have made up until this point has been wrong. People, people just like you, are buying houses in tropical locations. How, you wonder, how, is living and working from a beachfront house in Fiji an option in life? You start to realize that life is a series of choice and you, inexplicably, tragically, have chosen the suburbs. You recalculate the number of years until your youngest goes to college and remember that three college tuitions later you will not be moving to paradise, but downsizing into a condo near the Fuddruckers by the mall.

Under Appreciation
After contemplating the death complex and the realization you are never going to visit Fiji, let alone live there, the underappreciation thing seems trivial. But it’s so not. Mainly, you are underappreciated by your kids, but your spouse is probably sucking it up too. I know this because I’m sucking it up. After 20 years of marriage, my husband is like a lamp. He’s around, every now and again I turn him on, but otherwise, he’s just collecting dust in the corner. On a daily basis you do so much crap for other people who barely notice and rarely appreciate it, and although you signed on for it, you can’t help but want to shout, “Hey, I’m a human being. I have feelings. Someone notice me!” Oh, they notice you every now and again. Try skipping a field day. There will be tears.IMG_4010

The Fix
So, if the Modern Midlife Crisis is more complicated than our parents’ generation, what can we do to fix ours? Here’s where it gets interesting. I have no flipping idea. But the wine is helping. Having irreverent, raw, honest, hilarious friends is helping. Writing fictional books is helping. Wearing a flower in my hair is helping an illogical, disproportionate amount.

You know, maybe I’m overthinking this, just like my generation of self-help craving lunatics. I probably just need a convertible sports car and a one off at the Lamplighter Motel. But I’ll still dream of Fiji…and then, suddenly, someday, the flower in my hair will make tons of sense.

 

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79 Comments

  1. Oh sister I hear ya! One year younger than you, no flower in my hair and a death age of 51. There has to be more than this? Oh yes! Soon we’ll have the menopause and hot flushes to brighten our day!! Love you and your blogging xx

  2. Seriously, we have to talk about you wanting to punch everyone in the face.,,,😁.
    And for the record, dan, the tickets are fir FIJI…. Not Ireland.
    I have the fucking hot flashes and the mother fucking eye glasses…. It’s enough to grump you for life. 😜
    But not me, attempting to be now and productive…. You made me laugh several times..,,

  3. Colorado appreciates you! I’m so glad you are doing this blog. Come and stop by on your way to Fiji. Maybe drop off the kids for a few days.

  4. Kindergarten. Class of 2027. 57 when she finishes HIGH SCHOOL. How can this be a midlife crisis when I still have 2 years of student loans left, and I drive a 99 Subaru?!? My hot flashes say yes though….

  5. Great post, as someone past middle age going towards “old age” it gets better and it gets worse. Hot flashes are gone but sense if mortality and FOMO takes over!!! Then husband retires and is in YOUR space 24/7!

  6. I laughed out loud throughout this. Too funny, and oh-so real! I will be 59 when the youngest graduates high school! As far as parent/mortality age? I screwed/lucky, depending on how you look at it. My great-grandmother was 104, grandmother 103. No grandparent has been younger than 82. AND my parents are both now 80 and going strong! So. I should live a nice, long life–which is great since I practically birthed my kids using a walker….so, I should get to see them have kids, etc. But, I am going to have to avoid cancer and all that nonsense for decades to come!! Agh!!

  7. Meredith do you ever sleep?? Reading your blog makes me want to have a glass or bottle of vino with you. It’s been way too long. Love that you say so much of what I think, but you want to share it with the world. You are a fellow Virgo so we are way too analytical and indecisive. God bless! I think the key to our mid-life crisis is to keep trying new things, like the beautiful flower in your hair and plan adventures so we always have something to look forward to. Love your blog, I will keep reading.

  8. Forget the death age! Go to Fiji with hilarious friends, find the one off motel, buy the convertible and then the flower will make perfect sense. When do we leave?
    And just so you know, I’ll still be going to field day when you send your last one off!!! I will have attended every field day at BFE from the first to the….I can’t even talk about it!

  9. Meredith, I work with Dan who turned me on to your blog. He asked me not to blame you if I threw my back out laughing. I did laugh- all the way through- but I’ve already signed a consent form not to hold you accountable 🙂 So spot on, I’m addicted and sharing with everyone I know!!

  10. I enjoy reading your posts. Who would have thought, I am normal, thanks to reading your posts I realize more than ever all moms, regardless of account balances, etc. are all in the same boat. Some of us sink and some of us row with our arms!

    Keep it up, you’re inspiring!
    D

  11. I feel like you read my mind and wrote about me on your blog. Keep it coming Meredith, I typically like tonic only when served with vodka, but reading your blog is all the tonic I need to laugh out loud

      1. I would, if only I were local! We relocated to Charlotte, NC last summer. I miss my friends up there every day, but the upside is today it has been 80 degrees F. Still not a swap I would have chosen, but I it’s easy to love this weather….

    1. Ha! I should. But I’m actually just being funny about it all. Just liking making people laugh if they relate!

  12. I’m waiting on the runway at JFK (been 45 mins now) and am literally laughing out loud – much to the chagrin of my 15 yo next to me. You are brilliant, Meredith. So glad you can make me laugh at my MLC!! The new website looks great, I guess the 3rd time is the charm. Thanks for the goggles.

    1. Hi Noelle, So glad I can make you laugh!! Ha! 3rd time is a charm. Oy. Thanks for the support and for the comment. Great to hear from you.

  13. Very funny, very perceptive. The teeth cracking thing is what was giving ME night sweats, too (yes, everyone goes on about how humans are this wonderfully evolved thing, but maybe everyone needs to consider childbirth and teeth, which strike me as in need of a bit more evolution until they are fit-for-purpose). Then I realised, of course, that it must be far more likely that menopause, rather than anxiety about treacherous teeth, is giving me night sweats. Who knows.

    1. So few words in a comment…but such a great one! Made me smile. Thanks! Now, why aren’t you a book publisher??? 🙂

  14. You think a mid life crisis is bad? Try having a mid life crisis at the same time your oldest is graduating from college and having a quarter life crisis…… OY

  15. I am just now reading this and I could swear you eavesdropped on my 40 something friends girls weekend! I’m pretty sure we talked about ALL of this over lots of wine! Glad we’re not the only ones, I might try that flower thing and more of the wine thing!

  16. I turn 44 next week. On last Friday I got a full hysterectomy and have been stuck in the bed watching…yup, that damn Island Homes, Beach Front properties…all while keeping my new mouthguard in to protect the $3000 bridge I got as yet another 43 birthay present. I saw your blog come across my Facebook and I seriously thought you were writing my life. I have four kids, 13, 11, 11, 9. Enough said. Thanks for keeping me sane with that post. I truly have been wondering, WTF, did I just plunmet into a new life choice, cause it’s all going cray cray since last year!!

    1. OMG…I read this and was what in the world? YOU are cracking ME up. But seriously…that’s a tough run of things. I know with your sense of humor you’ll be fine. So glad I could make you laugh. Stay in touch. Always love more honest, funny women in my life!! See you on Facebook. Thanks for commenting!

  17. This was timely for me to read today. I realized today that I’m 42 and my life is probably 2/3 of the way over! I thought I had adapted to all the annoying things that happen to the body middle age, but what is this teeth cracking you speak of??? I had no idea!!!

    Loved the post…you are hilarious and it’s nice to hear other people feeling the same way at this point in life.

    1. Thanks so much, Patrice! I can’t even tell you about how my teeth have failed me…it’s too depressing. Drinking wine and writing a new blog now…stay tuned! And follow me on Facebook!

  18. This is too funny. I have actually been trying to convince my husband for 8 months to move to a tropical location and I am very serious. I have seen every single tropical location episode. My whole family knows how bad I want to go. I always feel underappreciated. My kids are 16, 13 and 6. I am 36 but have been married since I was 19. Everything you wrote I am feeling. I do everything and everyone just wants more. So good to know it’s not just me:)

    1. Thanks, Lisa! 36??? I’m so jealous. Damn. But the Modern Midlife Crisis doesn’t discriminate…it hits 36 year olds too. Stay plugged into my site and my Facebook…we all appreciate each other on there. And I appreciate you taking the time to comment! xo

  19. Thank you for this, it spoke to me on so many levels. Having endured the recent death of a parent, the comments on “death age” were right on target. I laughed so hard when I read this I cried – first good laugh in a long, long time. Keep blogging!

    1. Thanks. All kidding aside, the death age thing is tough. But laughing helps. So glad I could do that for you! I appreciate the message and the encouragement. Hope you’ll stay in touch and follow me some way!

  20. Oh man, I just discovered your blog, have read some half dozen posts, and feel like I’ve met myself in an alternate universe. Thanks for the laughs, the insights, and the down-to-earth reassurance that life is real and that’s okay. And good luck with your fiction writing! I’m an author and editor and writing is, swear to god, my saving grace. Nothing like falling into a world of my own invention to make me forget my mortality for a while. 😉

    1. Hmmm…I guess that would depend on how long you live, right? I think middle age is not about a number, it’s about a phase of life where you are at a crossroad. It can be any age number. I’m about to be 45…and it feels middle aged to me! But good for you if you see it differently from your perspective.

  21. Not sure why this came up today but it’s very timely. I’m 51 and my “baby” is off to college in August. Spent today visiting my parents – an exhausting day because my mom suffers from dementia after successfully fighting lunch cancer. Every visit involves the exact same conversation. Oh, she’s 79 and dad is 80 but it’s not something I look forward to. Menopause – well, the doctor says I’m in it and sometimes I am, hot flashes and dizziness, and sometimes I get a period for 2 weeks. He says that’s normal…whatever. And under appreciated…well, you hit it all. Good to know I’m not alone, maybe I’ll try the drinking since the chocolate just makes me fat.

  22. So is this what I’m experiencing ? It’s almost 3 am, can’t sleep- wearing my flattering bi-focals I finally caved & bought them because I’m pretty much blind as sh*t!! Still squinting as I’m reading ( while catching up on the blogs;))… Anything to try & take this tension away, relax & F’n sleep! However , I had to comment…. Hate to be the barer of bad news, it never ends EVEN when they go off to college & fly the coop. How is that , you may ask? Well, because they graduate & come back !!!!! Only now with this entitled more dramatic eye rolling , slamming doors, this crazy idea it is now OK to “swear” why mumbling statements of what has them pissed at that particular moment… When told ” hey, watch your language, I won’t tolerate disrespect”- answer: then leave me the hell alone GRRRRRR … Do you need to be reminded this is MY home, I pay the bills, your car etc… So what now your kicking me out? Nice mom thx! Oh the guilt they have mastered by 25, the role reversal they feel entitled to take. The bratty mouth that still leaves wet towels anywhere, ( honest, I raised her well, & as wonderful as she is, my world , my ❤️….. I actually left MY home tonight, can’t sleep stressed & sit her & wonder do I just move? Have a drink at 4 am? Or commit myself ( sounds like a nice little get away )… Ok , I will conclude my late night rambling ,probably makes no sense to begin with – when all I could have said……. GET that flight to Figi, dump the kids off at relatives & ENJOY every second…just do it…. As we love our kids more than anything , IT does NOT get easier when they become young adults ( smart ass would be more fitting) It’s just a new kind of headache & you can’t ” ground” them and such…. Under appreciated went to a entire new level today. She. even monitors my FB – anything she feels is a goner- she finds me in 2 sec! Ahhh, sorry for long post, thanks for the venting- thanks for making me laugh after a shit storm earlier;) keep up the fabulous blogs!!! Oh & the teeth , yea give it up now it just takes all your $$$ away, & you will need that for Figi ( plus isn’t this why everything can be photo- shopped anyway LOL …. All my best, good luck!!!

    1. I love you, Shannon! This is a great late night comment. Enjoyed reading it so much. Thanks for the support and love!

  23. I stumbled across your post/blog…made me laugh like crazy! I am 51, our youngest is 7 and our oldest is 16 with a 14 and 11 year old in between…yeah do the math! I have super thick glasses, shifting/cracking teeth, my mom died at 62…and my youngest won’t graduate high school until I am 63 !!!! Ugh! Menopause…seriously…it’s here!
    Oh yes, we are raising our children much differently than we were raised…what’s up with that? Isn’t what was good enough for us…good enough for them!?! I loved the way I grew up…wasn’t on the go constantly…played outside and didn’t die from drinking out of a water hose! We played in our neighborhood with friends, because we actually knew people in the houses around us!
    Thanks for the laughs…I love the flower…and hopefully one day you will chill in Fiji! 🙂

    1. OMG! You are killing me. Hose water was all we drank in the summer. And, here’s a helpful time…do the math once and then forget all you know about math. Math is the enemy! Thanks for this and I hope you’re right about Fiji! Although, since writing the blog, I’m now more interested in Bora Bora!! Either way, I’ll have the flower in my hair.

  24. My whole life in 1 blog! You are dead on. Just found this as a friend showed me the letter to my children on Facebook. That was dead on too. Thanks for making life seem hilarious even when we don’t always see the humor.

    1. So glad it resonated with you. This one is near and dear to me. I dream of Fiji and of good teeth! Good luck and follow me on FB!

  25. i just realized how old i will be when my youngest is in college… and well its not in the 40s so that’s that.. this is why wine has really become a game changer . I may have to try a flower in my hair just as a test…
    funny enough i watched island hunters where a couple was looking to buy an island with a budget of 25 million dollars.. What. The . &***! i think i need a do over clearly i went desperately wrong some where…. I love reading your blogs it so great to know that other women feel just like me!!! thank you and please keep them coming!

  26. Ok so I did the math when my youngest goes away to school or moves out because let’s be honest who knows what she decides about school lol I will be 50. My dad died at 56 or 57 years old. By the time I’m 50 I will be older then that lol I have 5 girls. I will feel like I’m in my hundreds . Children have to add at least 10 years each to you’re life. : )

  27. This was so funny & so true! I’m 37, two months away from having my third baby which puts me at about 2039 before this one leaves for college since it’ll miss the October 1 school cut off for kindergarten in our state ? Not that I’m counting! I’ve had death ages since I was in my 20s since my parents had me late and both died in their 60s (from cancer, of course). Glad to know there are so many others out there who can relate! Keep rocking that flower, M!

  28. Agreed on all accounts. And please know that I was reading this while squinting at the screen because I refuse to wear reading glasses! Now, where is my damn mouth guard?

  29. Stop with this middle aged BS. I will be 46 this year. I have trained my children to say that I am 33, always. I have 2 third graders, a kindergartner and 3 preschoolers. *And* crappy hair thanks to chemo. My legs are still hanging on, so there’s that. Xo. I love to see your pieces shared. I KNOW HER!

    1. Damn it to hell…I hate cancer. How can I complain about my life for laughs when people are getting freakin’chemo??? Well, I love your sense of humor and that you didn’t just find me and punch me in the face. And if your legs are still good, then, I hate you! 😉 Kick cancer’s butt. We can’t have funny people who get it sick!

    1. I need another crown…the one I cracked last year that I refused to deal with. Denial is a wicked warrior. Must do it before it gets infected. Isn’t is hot to talk about my cracking teeth?

  30. Great post M. Maybe this only works for me but boating and snow skiing are the cure. Sorry flat landers and in landers hope you can find a lake or a hill or something. You see the ocean is so vast that my cares seem as tiny as grains of sand. And all my problems seem small from the top of the mountain. Hopefully M will post the pictures which are worth a thousand words. I have been 25 now for a long time and am glad I decided not to get any older. Carpe Diam!
    l u sis

  31. Not sure I could pick a favorite post but I have an anecdote that relates to this one. A woman I went to grade school with (I’m 23 days shy of 38) recently took early retirement (from a job where she spent a lot of time working in Bermuda) to bike across the US (Portland to Portland) I am still changing baby #3’s diapers. I don’t have regrets per se on my life. But yeah, some different choices could’ve been made!! Thanks for making me laugh repeatedly.

    1. That delayed third child will set you back for sure. My youngest is 6 and 4 years younger than his sisters. At least your friend is biking across the country (my butt hurts just thinking about that) and not like traveling around the world with her lover. That would be much harder to stomach, but I get it. It’s crazy right? Loved that you commented on this one. It’s a personal fav of mine. Don’t be a stranger. I like you!

  32. Ya’ll are such babies. I turn the big FIVE OH next month and have a 4th grader. Yup, 58 at HS graduation. My BFF will be 60 for her baby’s graduation. No IVF for either of us, just some goddam willpower to pull it off. Now my baby runs at me with large waving pillows to try to prevent me from disappearing into a puddle on the floor from one of several dozen ‘heat waves’ I experience every day. But I just got the patch and am feeling all giddy, almost like I’m 44 again!

    I got reamed at the dentist after I admitted to not using the mouth guard. Hey I did it for about months after I got it. Pretty good, huh? Yeah check the records, oh it’s been 6 years? Alright its out of the bathroom and back on my nightstand. Nightly dreams of a mouth of crumbling teeth never end. Oh and the glasses, hahaha. Guess what, every year the print gets smaller. IT. IS. NOT. YOU! They keep making print smaller just to Fuck with women in menopause. I had to quit my favorite job as BoxTops counter. I’ll show them! Now try to get me to volunteer. Good luck. Field Day? Sure.

    Oh can we talk about work? How about trying to get a real job again in the ‘workplace’ with a degree from the 80s? Do you think one of those ‘HR Professionals’ was even born yet? ‘Oh, you have a Masters degree too? Whatevs, you dropped out to raise kids.’ – Dumb dumb move. Now I’ve got the greatest kids on earth, but guess what kids, you’re going to have to pay for your own college and while your at it pay my mortgage. Turns out motherhood pays shit wages.

    So hell yeah that’s why the wine industry is thriving. Mommy needs a vacation and this is it. Right here. Right now. Thanks for asking how my mid-life crisis was going though. It is in full swing. Cheers!

  33. Freaking brilliant!! I know sure as shit my mom didn’t sit around discussing discipline and organic bunny snags between her drags of cigarettes as she kicked us out to play with a bologna on white bread sandwich! Can’t wait to read more!

  34. Get out of my head, woman! This is perfect. Definitely a crossroads. At 50, I’m thinking of all the things I want to be doing, but still stuck in the Field Day phase! Totally phoning it in for the 3rd. I see how well my mom planned financially for her later years (83) and can’t even imagine how we’ll ever get to that point with 3 to put through college. I’ll be working right up to the minute I drop dead, and still won’t be ahead. Don’t even get me started on the vision, the teeth, the mysterious pains, the hairs that show up out of nowhere, pee-sneezes, the periods that require tampons *and* pads, the UTIs, and now, wait for it…shingles! Did I fall asleep for a decade???? And imagine the joy of menopause in the same house as a teen daughter. Oh the fun we’ll have! Thanks for the laughs!

  35. Hey, I started a blog and didn’t even know it! Seriously, you are me. I am you, we’re even the same age. You’re my new best friend, call me every five minutes! I love you, keep doing what you’re doing!

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