Thursday, January 17, 2013

Midlife... Second half

My generation of women has it different from previous generations of women. Many of us work and are financially independent, successful. I am at midlife, or Second Half; Bob Buford's book would label this as the Second Half of my life. I find myself thinking more about many things... Some say the financial muscles, skills and independence are causing many women of my generation to act out their frustrations and resolve them. I don't see much of that resolve in my mother's generation. Most women of her generation bore out their roles as mothers and wives with stoicism, but often at a cost much later in their lives. I have seen many of them sink into depression in their later years, very often, I suspect, due to the inability to resolve many of their frustrations.

Most of us spend the First Half of our life, busy building our lives... families, careers. Much if not all our energy is spent there. And many of us forget to set aside time to reflect. For some, it's a luxury not afforded because there is just so much we needed to build, we feel. And through the years, we forget... we forget to reflect and pause... pause for the important things in our lives. The work and sacrifice which are supposed to give meaning sometimes become the quicksand to our own selves....

Add that to a society which expects them to play out their roles with no complaints and husbands who were clueless that their wives are complex creatures who need support, you have a whole forgotten generation Unlike men, certain studies show that midlife renewal for women seem to see them achieve more. And midlife crisis for women often stems from family problems or events, through introspection. Family life stresses the wife more than the husbands. An interesting study from the UK came to this conclusion that women need friends, men need families. Increasingly I find too that most of the household tasks fall on women. As children grow older, the stress builds up. And it can become quite numbing. It is very probable that as women hit their late 40s, in a household with growing teens, midlife crisis sets in.

And so the second half becomes of time for reflection... of values and traditions that sometimes seem to make not much sense. And because of that sometimes life feels intolerable... As women grow older, many become sicker and sadder. Sicker probably because women often take on the overfunctioner role. Women work outside and they are the domestic engineers too... I don't think the human body (or mind) can take on this charade of the two worlds without getting sick or going crazy. There're just too much to do.

I wonder too for the generations of women before me, those who had no financial clout nor the confidence to question. They suffered in silence, bore with the expectations of traditions and culture, silently; living with their frustrations and dealing with all of that the best they can. They are a generation who had no opportunity to realise their potential nor live their lives as they see fit. They lived as expected of them. Women tend to lose out.

I guess midlife crisis (or maybe call it Second Half) is probably due to the fact that many women are trying to come to terms with the loss of youth, beauty and roles. I guess too many start to get tired of nurturing and want to be nurtured. I think women sacrifice more because of this role of nurturing... For most husbands, life goes on with less adjustments...

Midlife... Second Half... or even Menopause.... They can be engines of change, either for the better or worse. And I approach mine with caution.

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