As I studied umbrella reviews online, it struck me that a transformation was occurring, I appeared to be turning into Frank Mitchell. I have recently developed an obsession with the weather forecast, umbrella reviews and storm-proof apparel. If I’m not careful I’ll be making up totally unguessable riddles for town names next. I also have a new penchant for deeply unfashionable footwear and I’ve acquired more than a passing interest in stationery (I’m a slave to the polka dot notebook!). I have no idea where these strange middle-life flights of fancy will lead me next. Take yesterday for instance. One minute I was perusing trainers in a sportswear shop, the next I was trying on a canary, yellow, waterproof jacket. I stood admiring myself in the mirror, fantasising about wearing it in torrential rain and staying dry. My husband and son stared at me in horror.
‘What do you think?’ I asked doing a ta-dah gesture with my hands.
‘Seriously?’ questioned hubby aghast.
‘No way Mum!’ exclaimed my son horrified.
‘Way!’ I announced delighted with my find. Admittedly, I looked like Big Bird, but I didn’t care, this baby was storm-proof and even with my family’s blatant disdain, I bought it. In the privacy of my own home I then suffered buyer’s remorse as I regarded my reflection. It was when I found myself breaking into a sea shanty and demonstrating moves from the sailor’s hornpipe, that I realised the coat may have been a mistake. I could only imagine the mortification my son might suffer if I arrived dressed like Captain Birdseye to collect him from school. The coat will be returned.
As a non-driver who has to walk the school run every day, I am constantly on the lookout for weatherproof clothing. I often appear at the school gates dressed like Ranulph Fiennes on an Antarctic expedition. Recently, I’ve gone from loving fashion to being preoccupied with sensible clothing. This appears to be one of the characteristics of middle age. You acquire likings for things that you never noticed or desired before. As a mid-lifer I have become obsessed with comfort and make-life-easier gadgets. When I’m not out fighting the elements, I like to slip my tootsies into my Crocs. I am the proud owner of several pairs of these deeply ugly, brightly coloured sandals and my husband hates them with a vengeance. No doubt he yearns for the days when I tottered around everywhere in my killer heels, and now looks at this Croc-wearing, umbrella connoisseur and wonders where his wife went. I often wonder too. Never did I think I would sport the horrible outfits I bounce into with fervour these days. Nor did I imagine I would be stashing catalogues that fall out of newspapers, (the ones that hold the promise of ‘practical household problem solvers’) to peruse later when I’m alone with a packet of Maltesers. Methinks this is my midlife crisis, though it doesn’t feel like a crisis at all.
According to a new report the midlife crisis is a myth. People are happier in their 40s than they were at 18. Accepted research has shown our lives hit a low point when we hit ‘mid-life’ claiming that happiness declines for most from the early 20s to middle age (age 40 to 60). But according to new studies the midlife crisis, supposedly brought on by failed dreams and unhappy relationships, doesn’t actually exist. A 25-year study concluded that middle-aged people are happier than the young.
I’m certainly in a much happier place in life than I was in my younger years. I’m in a loving marriage, have a wonderful son and have achieved many of my dreams. Hitting mid-life isn’t a crisis, it’s more a metamorphosis into a more content, comfortable creature. The things we enjoyed in our youth like going to a rock concert, no longer bring us the same pleasure. Whereas, joining the National Trust, googling ex-lovers, taking up hobbies you once regarded as boring and checking out gadgets that can make life easier become sources of enjoyment in middle-age. As we mature we begin to find happiness in the oddest things. For instance, last week I became all of a quiver at the prospect of owing an insulated gravy boat and a non-spill ice cube tray, and how I ever lived without my silicone toaster tongs, I’ll never know. I am loving mid-life. Crisis? What crisis?