Don't Call it a Crisis

Obi, Age 42

Don’t call it a crisis: Celebrating midlife as a coming of age

In 2020 the world changed in ways few of us saw coming. The global story of social and economic upheaval played out in the headlines, but it was the countless personal revolutions taking place in individual lives that will ultimately change our culture.

That year I bought and renovated my first house, turned 40, had a baby, quit a job, and started a new one. While the world went topsy, my personal life, too, was doing somersaults. It felt like the wheel of fortune had spun me onto some dark, yet oddly gainful, timeline. Life milestones that I felt behind on caught up to me quickly, a decade of IG posts squeezed into 6 months. But the constant stream of bad news outside and the slush of postpartum hormones inside left me in low spirits. When the world and my endocrine system return to normal I’ll feel better, I reasoned.

But as 2021 dawned, so did the realization that 2020 was a turning point of no return. History is now pre and post-COVID. And my personal story is now pre and post-baby. I used to think becoming a mom would make me cling to a steady paycheck, but post-baby me thinks differently. Looking in my daughter’s eyes is like meeting the gaze of a soulmate who reminds me of an agreement made lifetimes ago. Failing to be accountable to that agreement is a more dreadful prospect than downshifting my lifestyle, I’ve decided. And I know my kid will benefit from trading an unlimited Whole Foods budget for a mom that wants to get out of bed in the morning.

So I quit my job and I’m not looking for another. At least not until I’ve spent time deciding what I want to be When I Grow Up.

I’ve returned to interests I had in my teens and 20s and allowed myself to dream again. Then I search the web and read, So-and-so was 25 when they did that thing. Oof. What will people think of a woman in her 40s pivoting into a new lane with enthusiasm, but poor form? Can they see in me, as they do in my child, the possibilities for the future? More importantly, can I?

How we think about work has changed, as has how we think about gender and family life, and aging. The customs associated with these seem very entrenched until a good crisis comes along to compel new behaviors. Maybe when my daughter is my age it will be commonplace to celebrate the so-called midlife crisis the way we do weddings and births and graduations. We’ll

throw coming-of-age parties for people in their 40s and 50s — or at any age where one is ready to make difficult decisions about living on purpose. Congratulations!

“And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!” Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go

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