Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mid-thirties crisis

I’m going through a mid-thirties crisis.

My youngest child left me for kindergarten, my oldest started middle school, and my husband got two promotions in as many years.

I’ve been left behind, in a special limbo that belongs to stay-at-home mothers. Here I am with only the dog, the insuperable laundry and my confused thoughts for company, my ambitions littered about the floor with the dirty socks and the junk mail.

When my son bravely left home for the tot lot, he took my excuses and, it would seem, my purpose in life with him. Since that sad day I’ve been contemplating all the basic skills I haven’t yet mastered at thirty-six years of age.

Take cooking, for instance. My family has eaten the same rotating meals for the last decade, supplemented with five-dollar pizzas and frozen chicken nuggets. If they’re lucky, I introduce a new meal (usually featuring ground beef and starch) once a year.  

As if I didn’t have enough guilt over this, my husband has taken to watching Master Chef Junior, causing me to be depressed because I can’t smoke mussels, flambé a dessert or infuse poultry like nine-year-olds. I probably couldn’t win Master Chef Baby against a bunch of cranky infants throwing pureed vegetables and cheerios together on a high chair before naptime.

And my home? It still looks like Vikings attacked and pillaged; wild animals reclaimed the land; and I hired preschoolers with ADD to decorate. 

There are more modern skills I lack, too. I don’t know how to “pin”. When I take a selfie, I look like I have a horse face: prominent nose, wide jaw, tiny ears. I can’t express myself well in 140 characters, and while on Facebook I’m overwhelmed with regrets that I didn’t take cuter pictures of my kids to garner the  likes they deserve.

Perhaps most tragic of all, I don’t even know how to zumba like all my friends. I’m not even totally clear on what “Zumba” is. Spell check seems to think it’s a cross between the rumba and a zombie, or perhaps a zombie doing the samba…

And I’d really like to say that this crisis is not one bit about aging, but more and more these past few years I’m coming face to face in the mirror with my nemesis:  unsightly girl. She shows up whenever I am sleep-deprived or having a messy cry or experiencing bad lighting. I’ve had to invest in expensive makeup, face creams, vitamins and quality shampoos just to bribe her to stay away. What’s next? Monthly manicures?  Botox? Laser vein treatment? I’m like the two-faced girl in that Seinfield episode “The Strike” who appears pretty or hideous depending on the shadows.

I mean if I could at least look like I have it together! Alas, my slender brows refuse to be groomed into lush perfection, and I can’t put my hair up without the aid of a scrunchy. I also blithely wasted years of my life not realizing that there were proper techniques for applying makeup, including such a thing as blending. Instead of a chic smoky eye with vintage red lip, I’m the wrinkly raccoon with two lazy eyes that got into the Kool-Aid.

Thankfully, my husband and four kids have been very supportive in my crisis. They assure me that I’m youngish, pretty and successful with coupons. That I might be a famous writer before I die. That I could join Pinterest and actually learn how to make Fettuccine Alfredo or smoke mussels.
I think I’ll listen to them while there’s still time.

My mid-life crisis could be just around the corner. 


  1. Oh, but think of all the WISDOM you have gained! Unsightly girl, boring cook, none of that matters when there is wisdom at the core : )

    1. Ah, Leonora, that is one of the best comments ever. Thanks!

    2. Hey, I don't know how to Zumba, and I don't plan on learning! Great post, Hillary. I think you should start working on that book--I've been thinking about you lately, AND I read a completely mediocre romance/mystery this week (while sick with the dreaded stomach flu). I'm sure you could do better! (Camille)

    3. Ah, I always knew you had confidence in me, Camille! Thank you for all your support over the years. I never tire of talking to you on the phone. I just wish I could see you more often!

  2. Well, Hoodoo, Vincent Van Gogh had to be content with being successful after death (decades after death); maybe we shouldn't expect more, huh? Great post, by the way.

    1. I love Vincent as you do, Papa. He shouldn't have had to wait so long for people to recognize his identity as an artist - something he knew and practiced all along despite the lack of recognition.

      You have written the great Kelven's Riddle books. I just write little blog posts. I need to follow your example and write a book!


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