Being a middle-aged mom (especially in the church) is at times a difficult position to be in. You’re no longer bearing children, changing diapers, or potty training, but you also aren’t old enough to be considered a senior citizen—so you live in limbo, attempting to find your new “normal.”
The younger mothers have a hard time relating to you because you are no longer in that stage of life. Because you don’t homeschool, you are also not in the loop with those who do. A mom who finds herself being forced back into the workforce can’t meet up with other families to go to the park during the day, and the museum visits are suddenly replaced with dropping kids off at school and getting to the office by 8 a.m.
Add to that all the emotions of your firstborn leaving for college, your seventeen-year-old getting a job, and your fifteen-year-old getting his permit and beginning to spread his wings a bit more, and you suddenly have a big transitional time bomb on your hands. There are some days when you’d like to stay home and be an “emotional wreck,” but you know that you have responsibilities to your family and employer, so you have no option but to hold it together.
As that middle-aged mom now, I sit back quietly and watch as new movements spread like wildfire through the church, but the wisdom I’ve gained through the years doesn’t allow me to follow the latest craze. The youthful thinking that you can outsmart God and somehow add years to your life by eating the right foods and rubbing the right oils on your body are gone. I know that we live each day by God’s mercy and grace. He has preordained our days, and they may not look exactly like what we thought they would be when we were younger. That’s a valuable perspective that you gain as you go through the trials of this life. The trappings of this world diminish, and your faith deepens. The psalmist reminds us: “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (Ps. 39:5).
Middle age brings with it a longing to share at a more intimate level with friends. It’s the time in your life when you are attending more funerals than weddings. You hunger for the companionship of other women your age who are going through your same experiences, but they can be taxing to find when your congregation is full of young families. You feel like your usefulness has been replaced by the younger and more talented. You’re no longer considered part of the “in” crowd. You’re at that awkward stage in your life where you don’t want to be considered young, but you’re not ready to be looked at as old.
Often I find myself asking, “OK, what now?” I’m slowly learning that it’s OK to be middle-aged. These days the house is a little quieter, but that means I get to spend more time with my husband. I now have the opportunity to volunteer with organizations I didn’t have time for when I was younger. I have more time to work out, and I have more substantial quiet times. I find comfort in the words of the psalmist: “They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green” (Ps. 92:14).
I may not know exactly where I fit in my Christian community yet, as my family goes through transitions, but I am satisfied and content with what the Scriptures promise. As that great old hymn reminds me, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed, unto him against that day.”
The author is a member of Faith OPC in Garland, Tex. New Horizons, December 2015.