The Middle

Songs have been written about being in the middle. “Stuck in the middle with you.” “It just takes some time in the middle.” We’ve identified syndromes caused by being in the middle – the middle child syndrome, a mid-life crisis. The mid-life crisis happens to be where society would say I am now. The time when you step back and take stock of your choices and evaluate where you go from here, or you completely lose your mind and spend all your savings on a sports car, plastic surgery, and a 25-year-old cabana boy named, Sergio. I’m the former.

I once believed I’d do something great with my life. Today I realize that greatness is subjective, but as an 18-year-old kid contemplating college, I equated greatness with a high-powered career. The only problem was, when the time was at hand to decide what to be, I couldn’t. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I had too many varied interests, and being highly intelligent (I don’t think it’s bragging to say that. At least, I hope it isn’t.) I had too many things that I was good at. Now, I know where my true passion and talent lie, but the die has already been cast. I had to decide the path then, and now I find myself as a wife and mother, a military wife no less, which makes it all the harder to change course, not only because I have people who depend on me to be the backbone of the family, the one who keeps the home fires burning, the one who can be depended upon to maintain the status quo no matter what, but also because we already have enough “course changes” being decided for us.

It dawned on me today, though, that mid-life isn’t one’s first foray into middle years. I was writing a letter for my daughter’s PTO newsletter, trying to urge parents to get involved and volunteer at the school, asserting that our children need us now more than ever as they attempt to navigate their middle school years, when it hit me that life is actually divided into thirds, perhaps even quarters, not halves. My daughter is in her middle years, too, which may account for some of the miscommunication between us recently as we both attempt to navigate the next section of our lives and figure out how to live up to this new level of maturity that seems to be expected of us.

She, too, is in transition, no longer a young child, but not yet a young adult. Ready to be treated as more grown-up but not yet ready to be a grown up. Here I am, grown up, knowing who I am and what I want to be, but finding that because of what I did when I didn’t know, I can’t do what I now know I want to do. It’s complicated.

By no means am I insinuating that I would change any of the major choices of my life which put me in my current role, nor am I an angry housewife, chaffing at the bit of domesticity and wishing to make a run for independence. Rather, I am simply trying to picture what might have been had I had more insight into, well, myself, as a young adult deciding on a college and then a major at college. Perhaps I should have made more of an effort to stay in my chosen field once the moving started, instead of taking the first job to come along out of a sense of financial desperation.

“What if…” Horrible phrase. It should really be a four letter word, right along with “regret.” Both are pointless, useless occupations which serve no purpose other than to make one doubt oneself. Because when I look at Jay and our girls and step back and really consider the life we’ve built, the experiences we’ve had and the wisdom we’ve gained, I wouldn’t change a thing; because if I’d chosen differently, I might not have any of this greatness. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never be. Make your peace with the past and leave it there.

 

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