The Cruelty of 48

That stage of life where you’re sandwiched between newly independent kids and newly dependent parents

Martie Sirois


Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

My Mom always cautioned me of this cruel life stage, my late 40s. I watched first hand as she lived it several decades ago and I’ve heard her tell the same story over and over. So it’s not like this should be a shock for me. But, I guess, we don’t know what we don’t know. In other words, until you experience it, you can never really grasp how brutal this stage is, nor how demanding the toll — both physically and emotionally.

Maybe I allowed the idea of a fire-eating Sex and the City Samantha to be a sort of inspirational character. A woman entering her 40s like a sexy soaring eagle, uninhibited and unafraid of the summit. Grabbing life by the balls and doing whatever you want (whenever, wherever), without an ounce of regret.

That romanticized ideal would be my fault. Totally. Because so far? I’ve done more crying than laughing this decade, much of which has occurred this year alone. Which is unusual for me. My 40s have been an emotional roller coaster, and 48 appears to be the crest.

The cruelty at this age, as Mom explained it, is multi-faceted. The two biggest contributing factors are:

  • having kids that are newly independent, and
  • having parents that are newly dependent.

Sounds simple, I know. And it doesn’t apply equally or to everyone. But if you’re anything like me — mid-to-late 40s, married with three (young adult) kids, and two parents who are still deeply in love, who are each other’s everything, you may find yourself in the same boat one day.

Here’s the deal.

If you have kids, at this stage you’re (typically) reckoning with an empty nest. I mean, for most of us, it’s either here or on the horizon. My husband and I aren’t quite there; we still have our youngest at home, but they are 16 and already looking at college. Our older two both left around the same time two years ago; our 22 year old son has lived and worked in different states over the past two years along with his soulmate/girlfriend, and our 20 year old daughter is entering her junior year of college. Just last week she said goodbye to home (and dorm life)…



Martie Sirois

Covering the intersection of culture, politics & equality. Featured in Marker, HuffPost, PopSugar, Scary Mommy; heard on NPR, SiriusXM, LTYM, TIFO podcast, etc.