Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE - Seema Goswami

EV­ERY DECADE of our life brings with it a few life changes. In your 20s, you are just about en­ter­ing the big, bad world as a fully-formed adult, ne­go­ti­at­ing your way through it on your own. It is a some­what scary but al­ways ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Your 30s, more of­ten than not, find you set­tling down, or at the very least, at­tempt­ing to, with a spouse or a part­ner, with a cou­ple of kids and in-laws thrown into the mix.

And, then come your 40s. This is prob­a­bly the decade when you will ex­pe­ri­ence the most life changes. And this may well be the decade that changes you as well.

As some­one who is on that jour­ney, al­low me to give you a quick glimpse into what you can ex­pect from your 40s, based on my own ex­pe­ri­ence and that of my friends.

Just when you think that your kids have now grown up and can cope on their own, you will have to be­come car­ers once again: this time to your par­ents or par­ents-in-law. With a bit of luck, these ill­nesses won’t be life-threat­en­ing. Per­haps a bro­ken leg, ne­ces­si­tat­ing a stay in hos­pi­tal, and a long re­hab process af­ter­wards. If you (and they) are truly out of luck, it may be some­thing more se­ri­ous like a heart episode or a stroke. But no mat­ter how quickly they re­cover and how good the prog­no­sis, your life and theirs will never be the same again. Not just be­cause of the de­mands on your time and en­ergy. But also be­cause par­ent­ing your par­ents can be heart­break­ing, for both par­ties.

Mid­dle age will start to make it­self man­i­fest in your body. You will no longer be able to dance in heels all night with­out hob­bling back home in pain. Af­ter a long night of drink­ing with your friends, you won’t be in a po­si­tion to get up the next morn­ing and get to work (Oh no! You’ll be in bed, groan­ing and moan­ing, and nurs­ing the mother of all hang­overs). There will be that nig­gling ache in your back when you pick up some­thing heavy or overdo it on the cross trainer at the gym. Your knees will creak in protest when you take a flight of steps. I could go on, but I’ll only end up de­press­ing both you and me.

Just when you are in a po­si­tion to af­ford eat­ing out in fancy places, thanks to a gen­er­ous com­pany ex­pense ac­count, your doc­tors will put you on a strict no-fat diet (“Your choles­terol is off the charts,” he/she will har­rumph dis­ap­prov­ingly). Just as you fi­nally have enough dis­pos­able in­come to buy those de­signer suits you han­kered af­ter all your life, you will dis­cover that you don’t fit into even the largest size on dis­play. Made to mea­sure, in­stead? You’ll have to get into your 50s be­fore you can af­ford that!

Did you re­ally think that the worst bits of child rear­ing were over? Ha, bloody ha! Now, in­stead of those cute cherubs who climbed into your bed ev­ery morn­ing and woke you up, you have two sulk­ing teenagers skulk­ing around the house, an­swer­ing your ev­ery query with a grudg­ing mono­syl­la­ble. Their rooms are a mess; but you are not al­lowed en­try, even for a clean-up. They spend all their time on their phones, Snapchat­ting and In­sta­gram­ming; but you have been blocked on both, so you don’t have a clue of what is go­ing on in their lives.

This is also prob­a­bly the time when you be­gin to panic about your fi­nances. Your chil­dren – yes, the ones clos­eted in the bed­room, with ear-thump­ing mu­sic on – are un­likely to get the grades to get into top-rated In­dian col­leges. So it will have to be a univer­sity in Bri­tain and Amer­ica or Sin­ga­pore, at the very least. Yes, you have spent the last decade sav­ing for it. But who knew that the ru­pee would hit this all-time low? You could spend ev­ery­thing you have saved or even take a loan to send your kids to a pres­ti­gious col­lege abroad. But what if you had a med­i­cal emer­gency or lost your job in the in­terim? How would you cope? Is it a won­der you don’t sleep well at night?

And then, there is the be­reave­ment and the loss. This is the decade in which you will be­gin to ex­pe­ri­ence the loss of near and dear ones. And not just of your par­ents and in-laws, who are in the twi­light of their lives. No, this is when you will lose a friend, an old school mate, an of­fice col­league, some­one roughly your age, to death. More of­ten than not, this will come as a bolt from the blue and leave you gasp­ing with shock and hor­ror. There, you will find your­self think­ing, but for the grace of God, go I.

Yes, I know, I paint a de­press­ing pic­ture. But there is much to be thank­ful for as well. You are still around. Your kids may not speak to you but (trust me) they still love you. And most cer­tainly, they need you. Your par­ents may be shad­ows of their for­mer selves, but their pres­ence still adds grace to your lives.

Yes, you may well think that there’s noth­ing to cheer about get­ting older (or even, just plain old). But pause for a mo­ment and con­sider the al­ter­na­tive. There, you feel much bet­ter, don’t you?


MID­DLE-AGE WOES You will no longer be able to dance in heels all night with­out hob­bling back home in pain. Your knees will creak in protest when you take a flight of steps

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