On Entering ‘The Middle Age’

My aunt’s step-mum died a week or so ago, and the funeral is today. I didn’t know her well, and my thoughts have more been with my aunt, who is wonderful, a great sage (and trained psychotherapist) I’ve enjoyed many bottles of wine with.

The death holds particular significance in one way: within my family, she was the last of my grandparents’ generation. With her passing, the thought that has sat with me the past few days is this: I have now moved into ‘the middle age.’ Above me now remain only my parents and their cousins; below, my own children and their cousins; around me, my siblings and our cousins.

We have, in other words, now finally moved up a place at the table. We are no longer the children, with parents and grandparents above us. We are in the middle. We are middle aged.

There are subtle changes of role and responsibility here. As young children things are done for you, and then as you go through teenage years and into 20s, you are active in shaking up the world, challenging parents and wanting renewal. As that process happens, the ‘old world’ of grandparents begins to fade. I lost two immediate grandparents without knowing them well; the other two I grew up with and was very close to and their deaths during my 20s was significant.

Now we are middle aged. Even if we do not have children ourselves, we are no longer the young ones, and appreciating this has made me think about my place in things. Before long there will come a time when my children will be very independent, but my parents will likely come to depend on me and my generation more. How will I respond to that?

No particular answers, other than this: time moves ever on, and we do well to navigate our best with its tide, not against it. ‘Middle aged’ is never said as a compliment, but here we are, in the middle. Will we fight it, or accept it with grace? In time old age will come, and my children will enter the middle; my hope only that I model a good way to be in between.



2 responses to “On Entering ‘The Middle Age’”

  1. jo bushell

    Highly recommended reading on this subject ‘The Middle Passage – from misery to meaning in midlife ‘ James Hollis.

  2. Matt Young

    Any advice for someone like me who is still in their twenties, but has a couple kids? What would you want to say to your younger self? Cheers!