I'm one of those mid-life n00bs! I'm 40, I have three kids...and I just started playing hockey a month ago.
I did speedskating a while back but never tried hockey. I'm finding it to be a lot of fun, a great work-out, and also much more challenging than any other sport I've ever played. There's just so much there to work on.
What I find to be fun is seeing the progress I'm making. Kids usually can't see themselves getting better, it just happens. But I can actually plot it out - first week, I felt like a hippo on skates. Bulky padding, could barely stop, no backwards ability, lucky to even keep the puck on the stick for half a second. Second week, the stick feels like it belongs in my hand and skating without it but in full gear just feels wrong. Third week, I can feel my edges! Fourth week, I can pass (not well), shoot (not well), skate backwards (not well) and I'm even starting to do crossovers (not well).
I went to stick time on Friday evening and had fun shooting. I looked pitiful enough that someone helped me with it (I had missed the first week of my 101 class, which I think may have been shooting) and before I left, I got some really satisfying THUNK shots against the wall. And I even got in the goal twice - once the goalie let me (which I thanked him for) but the second time it deflected off his stick into the goal.
I'll never be great at it. But I can sure have fun with it, and now that my kids are older and I've got more $$$, it's something I can do without any guilt.