I am middle aged. That means that I am (hopefully) in the middle of my life! It is strange to think that I could live almost another entire life - especially when we think of middle age as a bad thing, like the end of youth.
Lately, I am realizing that middle aged also means that you are in the middle of generations. On the one side I have my children or the young and up-and-coming wave of the future. On the other side, I have my parents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, aging politicians and civic leaders, people on the decline in many ways. After caring for small children and seeing them reach teen years, I realize that the older people in my life are now at a point where they need help or even just moral support. They might be struggling with understanding new technologies like cell phones, bureaucracies like medicare, or even new ways of shopping, eating, living. The young people are old enough that they probably have most of the answers to the above questions but they are entering the world of independence and they don't have the experience, the wisdom, or the necessary cynicism.
The roles in this situation are different and I am not sure how I am supposed to behave. I can't be the omnipotent authority to my kids, and I can't be the deferent youth to the seniors. In some ways, we are all on a par. We are able to have lively conversations, share ideas and set our own agendas. Hopefully, there is mutual respect. But, what is being driven home to me, more and more, these days, is that there are three separate spheres. The people in the middle (like me) are supposed to be the strongest, most reliable, most stable, most responsible, and most giving. At the same time, the younger ones are rebelling and the older ones are digging in their heels.
I hope I can be strong enough to do my bit for others while maintaining and figuring out my own identity. I hope I can be like the bird flying up and seeing the big picture then swooping down and managing the details. I hope I can show my kids how to treat me when I am old and remember how they will want to be treated when they are in the middle.