As a newborn baby we had but one real problem - Staying Alive.
Staying alive was difficult to impossible without help. At the very least, someone had to feed us, we couldn't feed ourself no matter how much effort or intellect we applied
In fact, as a baby we had but very little of either, that is we had little intellect and knowledge, and were without strength and dexterity.
Memory, as far as we know, is another thing a newborn is without.
As a baby our second concern was maintenance, that is, being washed and changed.
Where just a year before everything was interesting; now nothing is fun or interesting unless it effects our feelings.
But ready or not, it is time to begin a career and a family. It's too late to plan for this long and difficult time of life. Planning and preparation was supposed to have taken place while we were in our teens. But we were so engrossed with our own feelings that we very likely missed the opportunity.
In the middle of the Life Cycle comes Middle-Age.
Our children are raised and gone (or at least should be); our career is coming to a close, and a gradual change is taking place. But this time the change isn't into something, like the change from our teens to adulthood. This time it's out of the familiar, with nothing in sight. (There are exceptions, of course, just like there are exceptions to every shift mentioned, but I suspect that even with those exceptional few, they have experienced at least some fear of the future that the unprepared experience.)
Mothers try to hang on to what they have spent their adult life creating - her family. And in doing so she becomes a "Mother-In-Law."
Fathers make every effort to retain the position, perhaps the prestige, and certainly the income from what he has created - his career.
But both of these fade to one degree or another, and with varying degrees of distress.
Our old established roles we have played are now behind us, and the future role of retirement we are soon to play is edging up on us; leaving us with a sense of limbo; Neither here nor there.
Add to this the strong possibility that we now, or soon will, have to take on the added responsibility of our ageing parents.
If all this weren't enough, our body begins to once more play tricks on us. Menopause, wrinkles, greying hair. When we entered adolescence our bodies became tall, strong, lean, and perhaps even attractive. Now we are being robbed of all of that. We become shorter, weaker, squatter, and our attractiveness is requiring more and more makeup.
And like in adolescence, our attention becomes more inward than outward. Our own health concerns has moved from the back seat where it had been comfortably riding while raising our family, to the front seat of your concerns.
Magazine and book covers change from family and career oriented, to health and self-improvement.
And women, while their thighs and belly grows thicker, often find their skirt becomes shorter.
Men may tend to buy flashier cars, and cruise the streets, dressed in Beau Brumal attire.
An effort to recapture what we had unwillingly left behind in our last Cycle of Life shift, often at the expense of alienating our spouse ( and probably the rest of our family as well) because neither look any longer toward one another, nor their common interest of the past (our family), but at our own selves.
Retirement has struck, and if we have not left our spouse altogether, we search for new meaning and interests, both together and/or separately. These interests might be volunteer work, or exploring the country in a motor home, or new activities like golf or book clubs. But we have found life and adventure once more (if we are lucky). Like the pre-teens, we are once more exploring the world around us. Once more we are outside of ourself and have moved into the real world. And once more life has meaning, or at the very least it seems to not matter if it has any meaning or not.
Old age. The body no longer does what we want it to, and when it does, it creaks and resists like our children did when asked to do chores. We now settle into a routine. And Routine is the key word. Life is now a series of days exactly like the day before it, only more difficult to endure. It may be that one partner is more agile than the other, so therefore must not only take care of themself, but the other as well. Eventually dementia and senility sets in until our memory abandons us altogether. We are gradually creeping back to....
else must now take care of us, feed us, wash us, clothe us. It's now a
day-by-day routine of wondering if we will wake up the next morning, or
if we will have passed on allowing others (probably our children) to
get on with their own lives.