I feel like such a cliché when I’m driving down the road in my Camaro listening to some hair band from the ’80s. The scene always conjures up stereotypical images of my youth with the bad boy from a John Hughes movie driving a muscle car while blasting “Loverboy” from the speakers. Meanwhile, I’m a 40-something-year-old child of the ’80s, and I drive a 2014 Camaro. Don’t judge me; this is not a midlife crisis, but I suppose it is somewhat of a truism.
According to Chevrolet marketing executive John Fitzpatrick, Camaro buyers cluster in two age bands—20 to 30 years old, and 45 to 55. Surprising? Not really. For those of us in our 40s, this is the time when we can finally spend money on ourselves. In my humble opinion, this is my “me” time—not a midlife crisis. According to Erickson, midlife would be a time in your life when you “establish your careers, settle down within a relationship, begin your own families and develop a sense of being a part of the bigger picture. By failing to achieve these objectives (generally by 40 to 65), we become stagnant and feel unproductive.” It’s those feelings of being stagnant and unproductive that lead some people to a true midlife crisis. My life couldn’t be more opposite of that. I am quite proud of what I have accomplished in my 40-some years, and this is finally my “me” time.
For the majority of my 20s and 30s, and heck, even into my 40s, my life has revolved around my kids, family and home. I drove the four-door, high-safety-rated cars and the prerequisite soccer mom SUVs. I sacrificed my fashion and my personal budget allotment to make sure my kids had the Tommy Hilfiger, Lee Pipes, Nike, Hollister, AEO, and whatever other must-have fashion trends. I forewent the spa treatments and pricey foil highlights so my kids could pay the activity fees and attend camps for sports and school. When they began driving and needed cars, we made the sacrifice again and lived without luxuries such as expensive nights out and getaways. Luckily, by the time my kids were juniors in high school, they both worked part-time jobs to help defray some costs of their cars and newfound freedom. I think this was the time when I finally started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after years of self-laxity and began spending money on myself.
Fast-forward to today. My “kids” are adults with real-life jobs that help them make ends meet. Hence, the “me” time has commenced in full force. My 21-year-old daughter has remarked how I have more clothes than she does now, and she often goes “shopping” in my closet for jewelry and shoes and uses my makeup. I also spend my newly found “me” money on expensive foil highlights, manicures and pedicures, tanning salons, my Sephora addiction, gym memberships and date nights with my husband and my coveted Camaro.
I can see how this could look to others as a midlife crisis. On the contrary, I’m at a time in my life when I am still young enough to spend money on myself and enjoy living an active lifestyle with my husband. In fact, I think my husband and I go out more often than my kids now.
I don’t regret all those years of sacrifice. I think, as parents, we always want our kids to have more and do better than we did. It was my altruistic pleasure to provide all those experiences for them; I think it made them more well-rounded individuals. And although I might have sacrificed the higher name brand clothing for myself all those years ago, I certainly did not live completely without; JCPenney and Old Navy were my go-tos. I just lived more simply than I do now.
So the next time you see a 40-something-year-old woman climb out of her sexy Camaro, don’t automatically think midlife crisis. Instead, congratulate her for finally thinking about herself first. After all, she earned it.