Allan Parachini's New Year's Day article, "Reflections on a Watershed Year," hit home with this fellow Baby Boomer, class of '46. Like Parachini, I never really attached great emotional significance to birthdays or age. I didn't go crazy at 21, nor did I get depressed at 30. And when I turned 35, I had just given birth to my third child, first son. Filled with a sense of contentment and fulfillment, I was strong and ready to face the years ahead, whatever they held. How could I have foreseen that the next five years from 35 to 40 I would experience my husband's mid-life crisis, fall victim to the epidemic of divorce that has swept through my generation, see my father become ill and die and find myself a single parent, raising my three children and living with my widowed mother?
Now on the brink of turning 40, filled with apprehension, old values shaken, I am confronting the emotional and psychological changes inherent to mid-life adult development. And I know that I am not alone. As Parachini's article pointed out, the huge Baby Boomer population has had an enormous impact on the social, political, commercial and cultural values and institutions of our society. My generation has not been known to do anything in a small, quiet manner as evidenced by the anti-Vietnam protests, the women's movement, and the sexual revolution. So it seems certain that the Boomers at 40 will not merely make a wish, blow out the candles, grin, and bear it.
CBS-TV's "Kate and Allie" is an example of the impact of the Boomers on the media and a perfect statement of the current values, aspirations and frustrations of this generation. No one took notice, or even cared, when Lucy and Ricky and Ozzie and Harriet turned 40. But Kate and Allie remind us, loud and clear, every week, what it means to be 40 for the Boomers. It is our generation that created the demand for bulging shelves of self-help books on diet, exercise and every aspect of emotional, psychological and sexual relationships. It is our generation that helped to make the professions of divorce law and marriage and family counseling the huge, successful growth industries that they have become.
Suddenly, 40 is beautiful and "getting better all the time." Child-like, teen-age models are slowly being replaced by beautiful, mature women, at their sexual peak, powerful and self-confident. "Dynasty's" Linda Evans has made being 40 not only quite acceptable, but even desirous.
Of course, like every generation before us, we Boomers will not only face 40, but survive it--and 50 and 60. But we'll do it in our own style. And I'll bet that the Boomers fortunate enough to hit 65, as with everything else they've done, will do it with a bang and not a whimper!