The women in my family generally live to be about 90 years old, with an outlier here or there who died early or lived longer (my great-grandmother made it to 103). Thus, here solidly in my mid-40s, I’m about halfway through my life. Midlife, as it were.
I wouldn’t say I’m having a midlife crisis of any sort. Honestly, I don’t have time for it. I’m busy working at being my family’s only breadwinner, and that, along with parenting my kids and all the sundries of life, takes up all my time. I’m living a bit lower on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs than I prefer. I haven’t had a great deal of time lately to focus on the self-actualization portion.
But in the spare moments when I have time to think, my mind often turns to the future. See, my kids are quickly becoming adults. One is already 18, and the other will be there in a few years. They aren’t likely to fly the coop quickly, but, regardless, the balance of responsibility and priorities will slowly begin to shift over the next several years; actually, it already has.
And, since I always like to be prepared, I’ve been thinking about what I want my life to look like later on, after they’re in control of their own adventures, living their own lives, having ultimate control over their day-to-day. Who am I now/who will I be then? What do I want out of life? What’s the best way for me to support myself? How can I feel fulfilled?
The last time I didn’t have kids at home to take care of, I was 28. Though you have to go back to when I was 26 for me to have not been in baby mode; my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage just before my 27th birthday. And I’m now 46. That’s been 20 years of my life, and the vast majority of my adulthood. It’s not like I haven’t had time to explore who I am during that time, but, as most parents know, kids have to be and should be the priority when you’re raising them. You rarely get to be the priority for long. It’s good to have time when you’re focusing on and prioritizing someone other than yourself, but then it’s interesting to study yourself afterward.
I’m a vastly different person (though not fundamentally) from who I was at 26. Well, at least I know myself a lot better now. I didn’t have enough life experience back then to see trends in my tastes and behaviors. But now I have that. And I can use it to determine the direction of the rest of my life. Back then, I was just giving my best guess about what I wanted and would make me happy. I was correct in some areas, incorrect in others. Now I’ve got more information upon which to base future educated guesses.
But rather than be at a loss for what to do during my next chapter in life, I’m quite excited by it. The world is almost completely open to me. I have almost unlimited options. The work I do now is location-independent, so we can move, travel, keep weird hours, whatever we want.
Discovering I was autistic last year has also helped me consider options for my future that are compatible with my needs and wants. It’s helped me understand myself more clearly than anything else ever has.
Here are some things I know I want for my next chapter in life:
- Continued flexibility for my work and my schedule.
- Lots of family time, both with my kids (and any future families they may have) and my extended family.
- Travel—lots of travel.
- Writing books—I have so many books in progress and book ideas I’ve come up with, and I’d like to finish most of them.
- Creativity—I want to have the time to spend on my creative ideas and follow them to see where they go. Some end up as dead ends, but some lead interesting places.
- Family history—digitizing and delving deep into my tubs of family history, plus this ties in with the writing books option. My recent ancestors were always voracious letter writers, and they were all intelligent and witty, some very much so, and their stories will make excellent books.
- A home of my own—I’ve always wanted to live in a space I designed, and got to determine what it looked like, how it was laid out, etc. It doesn’t need to be really big, but I want it to be the way I want it. Rory and I care about different aspects of a home for the most part, so I think we can make this work.
- Security—I’d really love to feel like I can relax and breathe and not worry about how to make a housing payment every… single… month.
So, when I think about the second half of my life, I’m quite excited. I just have to not think about the fact that my life is likely at least half over, because then I just have an anxiety attack.