Slices of Life: Middle age

How can it be a crisis when you have half left? ... I don’t have to worry about making curfew or good grades. I never, ever have to learn new math. From that perspective, middle age doesn’t sound so bad.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler

I’m not sure of the exact definition of middle age.

I guess it depends on how long you plan to live. I’m not ready to publicly admit to middle agedness as I plan to live forever, but I am beginning to get a feel for some of the changes that happen during the F-word decades.

Like the rest of us from "The Brady Bunch" generation, I’ve lived a few years and have watched the world evolve throughout my lifetime. I’ve witnessed new inventions like cell phones and computers. I remember back when telephones were tethered to the wall. My first computer had no hard drive. Zero. That was back in the ancient times of floppy disks. Remember those?

When you hit middle age, you realize things don’t work like they used to — and I’m not talking about new-fangled gizmos like cell phones or computers.

Take my glasses (please). They’ve quit doing their job. They used to help me secure 20-20 vision, but something’s happened to the lenses, and I can no longer read words at a font size smaller than 12 — unless they are held out at least an arm’s length away from my face.


My bathroom mirror has developed a distortion problem. When I look into it, the only person looking back at me is someone resembling my mom.

Middle age brings with it greater knowledge about the world. For instance, you know that gray hairs do not have the same consistency as your normal color. You also know that when you pluck one gray hair from your head, two grow back.

Middle age is a time of changes and transitions. Lately I’ve found myself battling with combination skin. I rotate my applications: one day acne cream, the next wrinkle cream.

It’s a time when you finally come to know and embrace your limitations. Gravity, for instance, is a grave limitation (although thankfully not a literal one).

It’s a time of creaks and groans — and they’re not coming from the furniture. People find themselves bothered by aching joints and I, myself, have noted that when I bend over someone in the room lets out a groan. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the noise was coming from my own mouth, but that couldn’t be possible. I know I could easily still touch my toes — if I could reach them.

Speaking of health issues, I’ve recently discovered the joy of migraine headaches. They say that for women of a certain age, migraines can be attributed to hormonal issues, as can changes in appetite, sleep patterns, weight gain, mood swings, sweating, anxiety, heart palpitations, energy level and ability to think straight — otherwise referred to by the medical term brain fog.

It’s a time of more and less. You have more patience, but fewer young children to try that patience. You have less hair on your head, but more growing out of less desirable places — like your nose and ears. You eat less but weigh more.

Middle age is when you realize you have more time, but less time — all at the same time.


Some people get distraught about middle age. It’s even been called a time of midlife crisis.

Crisis? Really?

How can it be a crisis when you have half left? Especially when you know the first 20 years were squandered on youth and things like Pez and Pixie Stix. My palate has evolved from sugared candy. I don’t have to worry about making curfew or good grades. I never, ever have to learn new math. From that perspective, middle age doesn’t sound so bad.

Midlife is a time of knowledge and understanding. I know things now that I didn’t in my youth. I understand the best is yet to come. And I can still remember where I put my glasses. Most days.

J ill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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