Why We Can’t Sleep – Uncertain at a Certain Age

From The Wall Street Journal:

The midlife crisis has long belonged to men. The revelation that life is finite is apparently so startling to 40- and 50-something males that many behave badly, often by trading in their wives and cars for flashier models with more curb appeal. But as Ada Calhoun writes in “Why We Can’t Sleep,” middle-aged women are busily closing this angst gap. Squeezed by aging parents and young children, plagued by rising housing costs and declining job stability, ever more American women are waking up in the middle of the night to ask themselves, “Where did I go wrong?”

When Ms. Calhoun first wrote about the problems afflicting Generation X women for Oprah.com in 2017, her article went viral. With impressive (and sometimes evident) speed, she has fleshed out her argument with more interviews and much more data.

. . . .

[Several current] economic trends are especially pernicious for women, Ms. Calhoun argues, because we are expected to be both boundary-breakers at work and attentive, cupcake-baking mothers at home. Add to this our waning sexual appeal, our closing fertility window and the fact that caring for aging parents tends to fall to daughters, and a crisis of sorts is nearly inevitable, suggests Ms. Calhoun. Gen X women may have been among the first to be convinced that we would one day “have it all,” the author writes, but many are now discovering “that it is very hard to have even some of it.” Given our unprecedented opportunities, our struggles often fill us with shame.

As a member of this book’s target demographic, I found many of its grumbles reassuringly familiar. My husband and I are both freelancers in a trade that increasingly lacks a reliable business model, and we are renting in a swiftly changing neighborhood in one of the most expensive cities in the world. We juggle the care of our toddler son, in part because we can’t afford to outsource it. Our lifestyle is almost infantilizingly frugal, and rather different from the one my parents enjoyed in their early 40s. Given my insecurities, I take some comfort in what Ms. Calhoun calls “Generation X’s almost comically bad timing.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (sorry PG can’t help the paywall)

1 thought on “Why We Can’t Sleep – Uncertain at a Certain Age”

  1. [Several current] economic trends are especially pernicious for women, Ms. Calhoun argues, because we are expected to be both boundary-breakers at work and attentive, cupcake-baking mothers at home.

    Who is doing the expecting?

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