So the Office for National Statistics have found that respondents in the 40-59 age bracket have the lowest levels of satisfaction and the highest levels of anxiety. Middle age stress abounds and happiness has dropped off the richter scale for us. Apparently that elusive beast only emerges again after 60, with 65-79 year olds being the happiest years of all (probably because you’re just delighted to still be alive). Great, so I’ve got over ten years to go before I’m happy again….although apparently men, on average are significantly less satisfied than women.
Well, I have to say that this middle age business is starting to make me feel a little frayed around the edges. We mid-lifers have a lot of responsibilities and right now, as a single parent, I AM FINDING ALL MY RESPONSIBILITIES TO BE VERY HARD WORK. I am not feeling just sandwiched I am feeling club sandwiched.
Here are my list of woes today and why I am feeling a tad stressed and apologies for lots of CAPITAL LETTERS, it’s what I do WHEN I”M TRYING TO PORTRAY MY MOOD:-
1. My youngest child is just a week away from GCSE’s and doesn’t seem to want any help from me, despite having CANCELLED ALL MY DAY PLANS for the last 6 months and ALL MY TRAVEL PLANS just so that I can sit and go through his times tables (do they do those any more?). I am finding his refusal to accommodate my help very frustrating. He even fell about laughing when I offered to discuss the Tourism part of his Geography – failing to acknowledge that my job in travel PR would be even slightly useful. VERY ANNOYING ALL ROUND.
2. My daughter is stressing about her imminent operation on her knee and even more imminent exams and I can’t do very much to help her.
3. My mother fell over and had to be taken by ambulance to hospital last week. So I drove to see her and made sure she was OK – she’s sporting the biggest black eye I’ve ever seen – more black face than just eye. Such a worry.
4. My firstborn is living back at home and we are slowly adapting to the new world order. It’s not easy though and my daughter is going to be back soon for the summer (FOUR MONTHS) before she goes back to uni and he’s taken over her room and it’s not going to be easy to winkle him out of it. I am already anticipating this to be an issue and in addition she’s going to be recovering from her operation so I can’t even offer to move out myself to free up a room, because I’m going to have to be her carer…so I’m not sure what the solution is going to be.
5. I feel VERY angry about the fact that my son is going to probably have to live with me until he is 35 if the predications are correct. That will be when he has saved up for a house deposit. Houses as we know are no longer affordable – BUT I don’t see much coverage about the fact that it’s the young people’s salaries that haven’t kept up. My starting salary over 30 years ago was bigger than his and houses were much cheaper then – why can’t we address the salaries??? Pay them WAY more and if you don’t know where to get the money from then take it from the footballers. Failing that, I think renting is the way forward for young people because loads of them can share and not worry about the pressure of home ownership. At least that way he will move out a little sooner which will be a lot more healthy a move!
6. One positive about getting older was that I was finally ready to accept I was never going to learn another language, but now my daughter says, having written an essay on “successful ageing” that in order to keep dementia at bay that is what we need to do. I’m not sure my brain will cope?
7. How do you stop one of your babies (who is now a fully grown adult, but not to you) from buying a scooter with their own money? (I’ve already tried scaremongering, it hasn’t worked. MAJOR STRESS ABOUT IMAGINED OUTCOMES.
8. My children can’t understand why I’m so stressed and grumpy and any minute now are going to force me to try internet dating as a solution to take my mind off all the above mentioned shit. I am being ruled by my children and this is not a good place to be – but if I’m really honest, I suspect my friends and family would agree with my children.
Perhaps as parents, we shouldn’t reduce our lives to a microcosm of best (perceived) parenting practices during exams. I am quite sure if I was out galavanting every day and night it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to whether my son revises or not. My parents didn’t show the slightest interest in my exams…oh, yes, just remembered, I did really badly. I am not prepared to take the risk of being blamed (which obviously as a parent I will be anyway! That’s just what happens).
So perhaps the answer is, as I am feeling slightly beleaguered in my own house, that I announce (post GCSE’s obviously) that I am going to have a gap year and live in Shanghai so that I can learn Mandarin in order to keep my wits about me moving forward.
The worrying thing is that I have a feeling my children will think it’s the best idea I’ve ever had!