What's Happening to Me? Mid-Life Version
I remember receiving my pubertal guide (one of the earliest kid-friendly puberty books, published in 1975), Peter Mayle's now-classic "What's Happening to Me?" at the age of 12 or 13. Since then, Lynne and Area Maderas have introduced their "What's Happening to My Body" series for boys and girls, explaining the mysteries and concerns faced by pubescent teenagers.
Now, at 43 and in surgical menopause, I'm watching my friends and loved ones attempt to navigate the treacherous emotional, physical, and mental waters that surround mid-life for women and men, and I think we desperately need an updated version. We were, after all, pretty much the first generation EVER to be really open and honest and forthcoming about puberty, shouldn't we be the first generation to be open and honest about mid-life?
Women are trained from menarche to prepare for menopause. No, we aren't very well prepared for the decade or so of perimenopause that precedes it, but most of us have watched (in open-mouthed horror) our mothers, aunts, or sisters, undergo "the change" and have some idea of what's about to happen to us. Even if we approach it with the kind of white-knuckled, jaw-clenched attitude with which we approach a new roller coaster ride, we're at least READY to go crazy.
Not so for men. There's all kinds of research that indicates the male of the species also undergoes a mid-life transition similar to menopause... Call it "man-on-pause" or "andropause" or "mid-life crisis" or whatever you want, men need to be prepared to deal with a physical, mental, and emotional transition at mid-life, because it's coming. Sadly, they are even less prepared than women for "the change," and as wives and women, we aren't prepared either.
Book #2 we need...
Transitioning from Parenthood to Adulthood
Parenthood and Adulthood are two entirely different neighborhoods.
Even if you were a bonafide adult when you HAD children, the season of parenthood is something entirely different than adulthood. (Note: We probably need a book for pre-parenthood that outlines the differences.)
Parenthood is a selfless season—regardless of what chronological age you enter it—marked by putting aside one's personality, individuality, needs, desires, sleep, and privilege of peeing and pooping alone. Adulthood, by contrast, is a very selfish season, in which one is (or is supposed to be) free to pursue one's interests, desires, and dreams without consideration for anyone else's needs. Of course, add in a bit of insecurity, some codependency, and a dash of financial lack, and a large percentage of American "adults" have never actually enjoyed the freedom of "adulthood."
Whether entering adulthood for the first time (for those who jumped into parenthood with both feet before ever enjoying adulthood) or returning to adulthood after a season of parenting, this period is fraught with undocumented dangers which are frighteningly similar to the dangers faced in puberty. However, without forewarning, we run the risk of tumbling headfirst into those dangers because we think we're "grown-ups" now.
So, I either need to get busy writing, or someone else does...