Defining Middle Age   5 comments

Yesterday, Shelva wrote about her experience at “The Middle Aged Table” for her cousin’s wedding.  Like her, I do wonder how I’ve ended up being the one in the middle of life instead of at the beginning.

Or maybe I should be historical in my definition and think about getting a suit of armor?

Lately, this idea of middle age has come up a lot for me and not just because my 37th birthday is in a few weeks.  Last night, I heard about a gathering of women – all women I know – who were brought together because they were middle-aged; I wasn’t invited – I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s because I don’t have children.

Then, a friend today posted about Generation X and talked about how we are in middle age with our houses and our retirement plans.

I don’t have a spouse, kids, or a house.  And yet, here I am in the middle of my life.

So how do we define this idea of “middle age?”  Is it in years or accomplishments?  Family? Possessions?

Middle age seems to be defined – for some – by a certain place in life – the common place of kids and houses and looking to retirement – but that’s not my definition.  Instead, I define it this way – middle age is the time when you know who you are and pursue that path with all that you are.  I like that.  Not stuff, not relationships, not even years – but identity and security in that identity – that’s what makes you middle aged.

But since it seems often that middle aged is defined by something other than the number of years on the planet, and since I don’t have – at this moment – any of those things – spouse, kids, house, retirement plan (okay, I have one, but it’s pretty paltry) – I’m going to say I’m still a “young adult” and enjoy the joy of that “age” while also embracing the identity that each of my nearly 37 years has brought me.

How do you define middle-age?  Young adulthood? Old age?  Is it a set of things or relationships, a state of mind, a chronological fact, or a matter of identity? 


Posted October 21, 2011 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Aging, Parenting, Relationships

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5 responses to “Defining Middle Age

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  1. I’m sixty… and I don’t think I’m quite at middle age yet.

  2. I haven’t ever had to “define” it before. But subconciously, I had lumped people into 3 adult categories….20-40 young adult, 40-60 middle aged, 60-infinity senior adult. Then of course there are some people who act certain ages and so they get bumped into another category….my mother-in-law skipped middle age and went straight to “old” it was her choices and behaviors that caused that. My dad has just become a senior adult at 86….but the yard work he has been doing this fall still throw him back many days into the middle aged category in my head.

    • Yeah, I think I always thought “middle age” began at 40, the age I can first remember my mom being. But now, it does seem like this is the middle, I guess. . . But yes, choices and behavior do define our “age” a great deal. Thanks for reading, Beth.

  3. I’m not really sure how I would define it. I guess I’ve always thought of it as those years from about 40 – 60 or so. I used to think in terms of that “place” in life with the family just so and the belongings (like a house), but somewhere along the line I realized that wasn’t a good definition and seemed rather superficial. I never really replaced it with a new definition. I really like your definition of “know[ing] who you are and pursu[ing] that path with all that you are.” That really rings true for me. I’ve just turned 50 and I would say that somewhere between the ages of 35 and 40 I had a much better understanding of who I am, what I want, and how to pursue it with no apologies. I’m definitely much more secure in my identity than I’ve ever been and comfortable with it. It is this that makes me never really long to go back to a younger age.

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