Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rising to the Occasion of the Seven Year Itch?

Perhaps its just my age, or maybe my friends age, but it seems like several of the "midlife crisis" set are changing big time.  It used to be that you heard about men leaving their wives of twenty years to find the new trophy wife or to pursue the sports car of their dreams.

But the people I hear about are women making mid life choices to leave their spouses or their comfortable habits and pursue a new lifestyle.  Some are leaving to change their life in big ways.  One I know of left her home and job to pursue marathon running competitively.  Another left because she wanted to live in a big city, having lived in the country for the last 20 years (could have been the commute).  And just tonight, my husband told me about another woman that we both know, planning to leave for a new love.

Perhaps it is just my imagination, but perhaps it is just my generation.  We are the ones that had to pursue it all: families, jobs, social activity, community service.  The soccer moms with their anti-tiger mom approach of giving theirs all the things they never had as youth.  My generation stormed in and now is changing the with the tide of age.  We may be tired of being it all, or we may just need to rejuvenate.  Some are doing it with their families, others are desiring to pursue who they are....  sort of like the teen years of finding one's self.  Many (mostly those left behind literally or figuratively) think they are making a bad trade and a poor choice.  But I am not so sure.  It isn't so much that the choices they made to begin with were right or wrong, as the choices they made twenty or thirty years ago don't apply anymore.

Articles on Crisis for Women

Several of the women I know are just plain unhappy with where they are.  They rose to the top of their game, raised their children, performed the house chores and were active wives.  They were challenged and took the challenge, rising to the occasion of ever more demands.  And now they face a long future.  Isn't 40 the new thirty? and 50 the new 40?  Don't they have another 30 years of life at least to pursue happiness and fulfillment?  Didn't they give enough and deserve a second shot?

What if their situation is not bad, it just isn't enough?  When one reaches the top or the plateau of career and a full family, you face more of your self.  You look in the mirror and see the inevitable change and maybe you think its now or never.  Maybe you think that you have so much time left, there is enough to be a whole new person with different aspirations and emotions and growth.  It is real; we do have a long time to be new or renewed when our children leave and our jobs top out - or are even gone.

AARP has many resources for those who want to enter a second career  ttp://

Other sites have info on rebranding yourself I think people stop and wonder if they should be looking at a second life....  You know sort of the trophy wife scenario only now it is the trophy me instead.  I understand that feeling and the need to expand, to find something meaningful at this age and this time.  I look back on my mother's life and my grandmothers' lives and wonder if they didn't think and feel the same thing.  One of my grandmothers had already started a second family late in life.  I doubt she had time to think of new pursuits.  But surely those like my mother, who married at 19 and lived their entire life married and mothering, thought of pursuing a different dream or another course at some point.

I am not writing to advocate for leaving your spouse or changing your life.  That is a deeply personal choice that is way too complicated to indulge.  But I do understand the desire to be more than the supermom and the super employee.  I understand wanting to be a super you with a new identity and new purpose.  The options that we have are far greater than those who came before us. And those options present the challenge of choice.  Choosing is hard, as it is probably not reversible and not easy.  Even those who are certain that it is right will tell you how difficult the transition is.  Frightening really.  It does require some bravery to be someone new.

Don't be crabby about change.

I just wonder how it will turn out in thirty years.  I wonder if we look back and say that the choices we made on our second wind were as gratifying as the first.  This generation of women s broke a lot of ground and raised a fantastic group of children. They changed the workforce, the congress, and maybe the path of marriage for the future.  Now they are changing themselves again.  I guess the challenges aren't over.  I wish all of those looking down that path well. And I wish the ones that aren't going to change with you well too.