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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In between

By guest blogger Erica Wells

Life took an unpleasant detour last week, and in response, I began taking stock of my current situation. This activity of taking stock was less a physical task and more of an emotional endeavor. I searched heart, soul and mind, curious to see if reserves of strength or energy might emerge that would propel me through my crummy circumstances. Because so much of my motivation to engage in life comes from my relationships with others, in particular my family, that's where I began.

To one side of me are my children: young grade schoolers, no longer my little ones at home all day, yet they are still very much in need of support, nurturing and guidance from me and their dad. I see two young people poised to begin the adventures life has in store for them. I recognize the innocence their youth offers, the luxury of only knowing love and security, the purity of two minds largely undisturbed by hardship.

To my other side are four (grand)parents: an average of 50 years of marriage between two couples, each raised 3 children and each has 6 grandchildren. I see four lives being lived in full measure, accomplishments, regrets, success and sadness. Even more, I see the experience, wisdom, faith and perspective that decades on the planet can offer.

And here, in the midst of the youngest generation and the oldest generation, I am. Me, my husband, our siblings, many of our friends. This positioning in the life course is generally referred to as middle-aged, signifying the mid-point of our careers as human beings. But are we really? Isn't that presumptuous, albeit statistically accurate for forty-somethings? I'm troubled because the concept of mid-life assumes a particular longevity none of us can be certain of until it happens. I've been hearing the term mid-life crisis since I was a teenager and I know it's just a label, just words we're using to define something but not really thinking about what we're defining. And if you are like me and apt to read the obituary pages, you know that our individual mid-points vary wildly. Yet we persist in what I am tempted to argue is a just a convenient assumption that our forties represent the middle portion of our lives. Instead, I thought about alternative concepts, asked questions and allowed myself to be distracted for a while from my initial problem (isn't this always how it goes?). 
So while I bolster my resilience and forge a new path after this detour, I have discovered how fortunate I am to be book-ended in day to day life by loved ones from two generations, to be in between.

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