Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

by Danielle Pergament, executive editor of Allure

Here’s the upside to a midlife crisis: black eyeliner. No, obviously, I don’t mean pretty, flattering (office-appropriate!) black eyeliner. I mean the kind of black eyeliner you’d wear if you were having a dance party.

On a bar. With Keith Richards.

I know of what I speak. No one knows black eyeliner like I know black eyeliner. I’ve worked at Allure for 143 years. I’ve tested every black eyeliner that has ever been manufactured. This isn’t that.

This is this:

A few weeks ago—on a regular Tuesday morning that wasn’t my birthday—I woke up, walked into the kitchen, and found my awesome husband, my two great kids, and a steaming cup of HOLY CRAP YOU’RE 42 waiting on the kitchen counter. I had a flash—like they have in police procedurals where everything fades to black and an image of the murder weapon crystallizes in an instant. For me it was my 26-year-old self driving a convertible wearing Daisy Dukes listening to Michael Jackson. (Side note to millennials: Michael Jackson was a world-famous pop star in the 1980s and 1990s who had such hits as “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”)

This is how my midlife crisis (MLC) presented—sweet, fun, with a touch of nostalgia. Not the creepy, predatory kind. My MLC is classy. Really.

According to studies, midlife crises affect men more than women at a ratio of 118:1 (yeah, I know it’s not real—I made it up). But women get them, too. And I’m in the throes right now. I’m not saying I went out and bought a cherry-red Maserati. Although there is an 80 percent chance I spent over $200 on an incredibly beautiful, utterly impractical strappy black bra that has this cobweb design in the front but in a totally elegant way.

There have been other symptoms. I started shaving my legs every day, which is a big thing for someone who has been married for nine years. I’ve always had buckets of mascara tubes, lipsticks, self-tanners, eye creams, you-name-its, but now I’ve actually opened a few of them. The family iPad, which we used to use for my kids’ homework assignments and NPR, is now primarily a device that plays “Blurred Lines” and Daft Punk. The other day I made my kids (they’re five and seven, by the way) watch the “Thriller” video over their morning oatmeal. And, naturally, going hand in hand with all of this is an Isabel Marant, insanely-short-hemline chapter of my life. Of course these dresses would look more appropriate on a 24-year-old, but you’re totally missing the point.

Here’s the part no one will tell you about an MLC: It’s pretty much all good. Hell, it’s all great. Yes, it can blow up a marriage, and it can be utterly ruinous when the ego indulges. But if you stop before the ruinous part, it’s amazing. I’m talking about the fact that you get to be a freshman in college again. Except this time, you’re doing it with a brain in your head and the respectability that comes with a job and 42 years of living on planet Earth. Your jokes are funnier. Your conversation is sharper.

If you’re lucky enough to have a midlife crisis, I say seize it. Listen to your midlife crisis. It’s in there. It’s trying to find a way out. Don’t smother it. Let it find its voice, even if that voice is singing a Britney Spears song.

So back to that black eyeliner: Did I drink tequila and dance to Bob Marley (again, big in the 1980s and 1990s) until 1 a.m. last night? You betcha! Did I feel a small thrill when the hipster waiter checked me out? Absolutely! And did I cringe a little when the babysitter gave me a disapproving look when I got home? Yes, that, too!

But it was freeing. Maybe even a little empowering. My smoky eyes were exactly on point. And if I may say so, I think Keith would have been proud.
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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

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