Identity Crisis of the “Middle Generation”

To those in their 40s and 50s, what a confused generation are we in? At least from my personal point of view as a woman. Some call it the middle generation while others have a friendly name for it – the “sandwich generation”. Obviously, it means caught in the middle! Surprisingly, the age group varies in different parts of the world. Based on an article published in the BBC (29th January 2021), in the Philippines, the “sandwiched” women are between the age of 30 and 35, meanwhile, in England, Wales and Austin, they are between 45 and 54 years old.

If you ask my mother, who is in her 70s, she would proudly exclaim without any hesitation that it is her duty to prepare daily meals for everyone in the house, especially her husband. The sense of duty does not come off as a forced idea or submission, coming from her mouth. In fact, she takes pride in completely assuming the role of a caretaker. This woman would be embarrassed to tell relatives that her husband helped her mop the house that day!

On the other hand, my daughter in her 20s is clear that she wants a life partner who shares equal responsibilities in the household without any prejudice. “There’s no such thing as a man’s work or a woman’s work. Sharing means caring, right?” she said. She knows how to manage herself and her home really well, but I get that she does not want someone to dump all the work on her just because she is good at it.

What about me? I ask… Well, to be very honest, I am a little bit of both. It is extremely difficult for me to discard practices that I have grown up watching so closely. Up to a certain point, some practices such as preparing meals for the spouse, caring for children while having a full-blown career at the time, and trying to play safe to avoid being labelled ‘antisocial’ by society, all feel a little too unnatural for me to ignore. But at the same time, I am feeling the pinch of regressive and oppressive ‘norms’ that have made me feel like I am stuck in between the time.

Ha-ha… This is why, I say that I belong to a confused generation because I have moved on from the mindset of those in my mother’s generation and at the same time, I cannot relate to my daughter’s generation that expects unconditional social freedom. As much as I try not to think too deeply and succumb to a whole identity crisis, I keep finding myself in situations where I am unsure which route to take in the presence of both my daughter and my mother, and well, people generally.

I honestly feel more people, especially women, should talk about this. Maybe the revelation and a proper discussion about this would help us deal with the middle generation issues, to fit in both worlds while still being true to ourselves. After all, we should age gracefully, you see…

 

 

Dr. Sarala Thulasi Palpanadan

Senior Lecturer

Centre for Language Studies

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)

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