I knew it had happened.
Some years back, I was enjoying Vegas, dressed to kill, amid an audience of attentive and interesting young men, when it hit:
The realization that I was middle aged.
I was nothing like my colleagues in their 20s and early 30s. I didn’t have their zest for life or disregard for consequences. These late nights were going to lay me out flat for a week. With each drink, dehydration was etching fine lines in my skin. Bed sang to me.
After I excused myself and clambered queasily to my hotel room, I wondered:
Was this what it felt like to no longer be young?
The Stigma of Midlife
From the time we’re born, youth is all we know.
As kids, we take our age for granted. Everyone else is old, but not us. We’ve got all the time in the world.
Which is why most of us hit midlife a few years before we realize we’ve arrived. The body lands first with a kerthunk, and the brain catches up eventually.
The landscape looks different through the lens of middle age. With midlife comes maturity, as well as a certain acceptance of the way things are. Life doesn’t look anything like those dreams we once had, but that’s okay. Such is life.
The challenge of this stage in life is feeling like you’re in limbo.
You’ve accomplished most of what you needed to accomplish. Now you’ve got about a quarter of a decade, from 40 to 65, to get through before your life will change again in retirement.
You have work and family to focus on, but is that enough? Shouldn’t there be more to midlife than mopping up everyone else’s messes?
That’s what I set out to discover.
That night in Vegas marked the beginning of a new phase in my life.
I wasn’t a young lady anymore, but I wasn’t an old woman yet. So what was I?
(And don’t tell me I was a middle-aged woman. Anything but that.)
Goddesses Don’t Grow Old
My research led me to the Goddess movement of the 1970s.
I learned how authors, artists and thinkers excavated ancient myths and legends from around the world in search of new ways to understand feminine experience.
One of the motifs they unearthed—one that would transform my understanding of midlife completely—was the Triple Goddess.
Goddesses don’t go through the same life stages as everyone else.
They don’t start out young, then become middle-aged and finally grow old. Their evolution is much cooler than that.
A Goddess begins life as a sweet and innocent Maiden.
She grows into a Mother, mature and powerful, in the prime of her life.
As her hair turns gray, she fills the role of Matriarch, wise elder and leader of her community.
That’s more like it!
It’s not that I wasn’t young anymore. Instead I had entered the prime of my life. I now embodied the second aspect of the Triple Goddess, the Mother.
Embodying the Mother
Mothers are tough and confident. Mothers know everything about everything. They’re in charge.
They’re in charge because they can be relied on to take everyone’s interests into account. They see the big picture.
They’re past the stage in life where it’s all about them. They don’t overlook the small and the vulnerable. They keep everyone together.
Mythologically, it gets even better.
The Mother represents summertime, fertility, and ripeness. She is wise and loving, firm and strong. She nurtures, protects, and loves unconditionally. The Earth is her child, and all beings within it.
It’s not much of a sacrifice to let the innocence and sweetness of Maidenhood slip away, when the lushness, complexity, and authority of Motherhood awaits.
Or, as I like to say…
Who needs #GirlPower when you’ve got #WOMANpower?
Having your own children isn’t necessary to embrace your role as Mother. It’s a symbolic role rather than a literal one.
Midlife is a time to use your mothering energy to nurture. You may nurture projects, gardens, businesses, pets, loved ones, or all of the above. To mother someone or something is to look after it, tend it, and give it the conditions it needs to flourish.
Could there be any role more beautiful?
Thanks to the Triple Goddess, I don’t miss that younger me who could stay out all night.
I embodied Maiden energy for a long time, but that stage of my life is over. I’m enjoying discovering what it is to be a Mother in all aspects of my life, as one who extends her mothering energy to her family, her home, her work, and the world around her.
And when the time comes, and my life moves on again, a new adventure awaits…
How are you embodying the energy of your inner goddess?