June 23, 2021

Nobody Told me Midlife would be like This.

Nobody told me midlife would be like this: so full-steam and furious that there’s barely time to breathe in the little moments.

And yet, those little moments are the creamy nougats, the prize at the bottom of the Crackerjack box, the ornaments that make the tree glisten and gasp-worthy.

These days, my life gushes by, and there are so many moments I seem to spend overwhelmed, frustrated, bedridden with a migraine, shaken by the shifting tectonic plates of my hormones, searching for some secret sauce that might be a salve to the problems of the day.

This morning, I sprinkled the wrong spice into the oatmeal I was cooking for my husband and I. That first batch of breakfast smelled suspiciously like spicy Mexican beans, and yet I still pulled a spoonful to my lips to confirm that indeed, I’d added cumin instead of cinnamon.

And that’s a bit what this part of life feels like to me—yes, there are the oats that I craved, the rooted, love-soaked life, but so often, the seasoning feels off, and I can’t quite figure out how to savor, to be satisfied with this messy middle.

It’s so tempting to think there will be some distant star we’re striving toward, some point on the horizon where we arrive and relax, where today’s concerns will be resolved and we can sit back, sweetly. But I know better than that. I know that complications are a constant, and anytime that our lives aren’t actively shattering is actually a small blessing, a reprieve, a splash of sunshine on our shoulders.

The days zoom by, even the hard ones, and so I promised myself recently that I’d take more time to jot down the juicy parts, the cringeworthy parts, the cumin-sprinkled parts.

So there is this, this fascia that lies between the muscles, all the strained and aching pieces: my daughter and I play ball outside, both of us giggling, her face radiant and light-streaked, my heart unheavy.

Or this: my son, after his second COVID vaccination, fever-struck, and weak-limbed. I go to the store to buy fresh peaches for him, and he spreads his tired arms wide and waiting, his gratitude as warm and humid as his forehead.

Or this: my husband’s joy-rich laugh when I tell him about the cumin in the oatmeal. He reminds me to not take everything so seriously, to laugh at myself, my missteps, my mistakes.

There will always be problems that threaten to overshadow these small blessings that are folded into the grooves of each day.

So I etch the shining moments down, and in doing so, I relive them, savor them, tuck them deep in a pocket to pull out some dusty day. I stretch these moments out like taffy, I taste them, and they remind me of what it means to experience the fullness of this season.

My heart, overflowing. This hard, ripe life. This messy, mundane, miracle of a middle.


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