No matter how much I’d like to believe (or pretend) that I’m still young, I really do consider myself to be a middle aged woman. I’ve thought of myself as middle aged for at least the past fifteen years or so. And when I finally decided to start my blog, I made it all about being middle aged and coping with all the changes that middle age brings. One way or another, being middle aged is a big part of my identity right now.
But then I started reading other people’s blogs about middle age, and realized that there are many different ways to define middle age. I had always considered middle age to be the huge chunk of life between younger adulthood and senior citizen, and I sort of resented people who suggested that it starts and ends much earlier than that. (I even wrote a post about it called Don’t Take Away My Middle Age.) Others believe middle age literally means the exact middle of our life, so that even if we live to be one hundred, our middle age ends when we are fifty. Middle age is, at best, a rather fluid concept.
I think the problem for those of us on the upper end of middle age is that we don’t have any real term for what comes next other than “senior citizen.” And while I have the utmost respect for senior citizens (my 85 year-old mother truly rocks the whole “cute little old lady” thing), I know that it will be many more years before I am ready to be one. So that creates the whole question of, if I’m too old to be middle aged, but still too young to be a senior citizen, then what exactly am I?
At 57, I’m fast reaching the age when, even with the most generous definition, I can’t all myself middle aged anymore. This will be the first time in my life when I don’t really know what age group I fall into. So far, I’ve been a baby, child, tween, teenager, young adult, just a regular adult, and middle ager. All that’s left, as far as I know, is senior citizen. But it seems a bit odd to me to lump people who are in their early sixties with people who are in their late nineties. I think that span is too long, and that the people on the opposite ends of it don’t really have that much in common.
Maybe I need to just go back to just considering myself simply as an adult, the way I did in my thirties, at least until somebody comes up with a good term for this particular time in our lives. Or maybe it’s time I just stopped thinking in terms of age categories all together, because my age is really nobody’s business but mine. Whatever I decide, I’m going to keep the name of my blog the same. I’d like to think that by doing so I’m making some sort of bold stand against aging and age classifications, but the truth is that figuring out how to change the name is just too much work.