How to Have a Midlife Crisis

I am having a midlife crisis. At 40 I had it all: child, partner, important job and house full of stuff, and I had never been so miserable.
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Me at 40
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Me now

For many this may sound familiar, but why anybody would get a younger girlfriend or boyfriend at this point is beyond me; talk about high maintenance. If I want more time for me; the last thing I plan to do is take on another empty time suck. I think the ideal at this point is to simplify life to the things that bring the most joy, and in some cases the things that use to bring joy and could again. So goodbye to all things high maintenance and low reward! I certainly don’t want to run away from my life; just grow it and tweak it a bit.

I still love my life

Saying I am having a midlife crisis does not mean that I don’t like my life. I still love my partner, after almost 20 years, we are like a matched set, so in tune I can’t imagine life without him. Sure, we are living through the strains a small child puts on you. Bickering occasionally over inconsequential chores and child discipline, but the our biggest problem is that every conversation is about the kid or the house, the logistics of a family. We need to make time to share our inside jokes and dreams again.

I love my daughter, but every second can become about organizing her, for school, for bed, for meals, where the only time we ever talk is in the car and then I can’t even see her face. Sometimes I spend more time chasing her and nagging her than I do playing with her. I am very aware of the sands of time passing with my daughter. She’s mine for such a short time before her peers start pulling her away and I need to enjoy every moment I can. I want to have tea parties and make up silly stories and cuddle on the couch while I am still her favorite playmate. Constant vigilance and planning is my tool of choice in maintaining this balance.

Just not all of it

I love to work and have worked steadily, in one form or another since I was 10 years old. I like feeling productive and making money. I’ve cleaned airplanes, tended bar and answered phones. Recently I ran a team of techies, a job I’d always wanted. But it had soured: working during vacations, being on call 24/7 and facing a dressing down at least once a week was just more than I could face. Why was I doing this? It used to bring me joy, but it had become toxic. From now on I will take on work that allows me a life. That permits me to log off and go home and spend a few quiet hours with my family. Even if that means less pay.

I had maintained my weight for years. Other than my figure crushing pregnancy; the one that blessed me with 40 lbs I’m still struggling to take off. After returning to work I started to put on weight; was sick at least once a month, had started suffering from rashes and losing the feeling in my feet. I broke the cholesterol test, how do you break the cholesterol test?!?

So, now what?

So far, I have downsized my “stuff” by at least 25%, maybe more, and organized the rest. I have established routines with my family that save us time and stress, hired some help and designed systems to make my life easier. I go to the gym.

Mostly I have spent some time figuring out who I am and what I want. Now with half of my life behind me and the other half ahead, I know what matters to me and what I value most. Life for me is not about owning things and having money anymore. For me it is about experiences and memories.

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