one family's yearlong dare to live their dreams

Goodbye, Doubt. Hello, Midlife Crisis!

 

Heads of State / NY Times

We’re 17 days into Our Year of Living Bigger. Michael is learning to fly, at least virtually. I started guitar lessons with my contagiously enthusiastic teacher. Someone in a government office is renewing my passport so that I can get to India in April, and hopefully to France with the family in August. So far, so good.

Yet, as is the case I imagine with any ambitious project, I’ve had moments of self-doubt. I’ve allowed my inner critic to slip in and ask nagging rhetorical questions like, Why are we doing this? Are we being selfish, to want so much? Will our project result in any good?

Then I came across a couple of newspaper articles that helped me stuff a sock into the mouth of that tedious naysayer.

First I read “The Happy Marriage Is the Me Marriage,” by Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times, who argues that today’s happiest and most sustainable marriages are those in which spouses actively help one another learn new things, have fresh experiences, and take part in a process of mutual self-expansion. Right on! I think Michael and I are on the right track, no? At the very least, our project will make our marriage – and our family – stronger in the long run.

Then, appearing in the Times‘ magazine a week later, “Fear (Again) of Flying” by Judith Warner casts an eye over a raft of new memoirs published by fortysomething women, concluding that today’s female midlife crisis is no longer a rebellious flight from domesticity, as it was in the 1970s. Instead it’s a spiritual “turning inward” – a journey taking place within the boundaries of home and family life. I love this – and I can’t wait to read some of these memoirs, including the yoga-influenced Devotion by Dani Shapiro and Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer.

If our Grand Project is a midlife crisis (and Michael and I are amused to acknowledge that it is!), then bring it on. Bring on the journey to India, the Native American sweat lodge ceremonies, the lessons in flying, music, French, and letting go. I’ll take all that over a fancy red sports car any day. Ultimately these things will spirit us, and our children, to much more exciting places.

Meanwhile, I’ve shooed away my inner critic, at least temporarily. I’m sure she will return, and I’ll have to work harder to hone my message of resistance. Maybe it will help to give her a name. The mommy blogger Alice Bradley, of the famously funny Finslippy blog, recently dubbed her own “judge-y voice” Wanda. I see mine as a stern-faced, thick-ankled taskmaster of Eastern European descent. I’ll call her Helga. I like this, because the act of naming her seems to take away some of her power.

Get lost, Helga! Go get your own midlife crisis, okay? I’ve got work to do.

2 Responses to “Goodbye, Doubt. Hello, Midlife Crisis!”

  1. Rachel says:

    I love the idea of naming your inner critic! It really does allow you to see that voice as an intrusion and not your true self. I might just have to work with that. My stepmom just sent me the book Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses. I don’t see myself getting to it over the next few weeks, so let me know if you’d like to borrow it.

    • Wendy says:

      Rachel, it’s so true about what happens when you name your inner critic. If you come up with a good name for yours I’d like to hear it! And I’d love to borrow “Poser” from you – thanks so much for the offer! xo Wendy

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