I am middle-aged. If we want to get technical about it, since I am 47, I may actually be past middle-aged; if it means the middle of one’s life, unless I live past 94, I am closer to the end than to the beginning (well, good morning to you!)
Since I hit my forties, I’ve been consumed with growing older and “what it all means.” I’ve come to the realization that, just like with all phases of life, there are a lot of good as well as bad things that come with being middle-aged.
First, the bad:
- From here on out, chances are pretty high I will be called “ma’am” a lot more frequently.
- As Billy Crystal and Fran Lebowitz have pointed out, this is the best I am ever going to look. As Fran put it: in 20 years from now, I will look back at any past photo of myself, and it won’t matter what I was wearing, or what my hair looked like—I will think I looked good. Simply, and primarily, because I was younger.
- Eye creams, tweezing, waxing, cursing at the mirror, concealing, and discovering new areas of creping skin are now a part of my daily existence.
- When Bonnie Franklin’s character, Ann, turned 36 on “One Day at A Time” they devoted an entire episode to this crisis. They spent a considerable amount of time showing Ann, alone in her bedroom, talking to herself in the mirror as she tried to “come to terms with turning THIRTY-FUCKING-SIX.”
- There will soon be a point where I can no longer go out drinking and dancing. Sadly, I don’t do much of it anymore, but I love holding the idea in mind. However, I shiver when I realize if my friends and I were to indulge in this dream, we would be known as “those older women on the dance floor.”
- My body is changing. Things are…moving. Shifting. Collecting fat in certain areas, and bubbling over in others. Hair is less proficient in some spots, more so in others. But here is the rub—I don’t fret over these facts due to mere vanity. Digging deep into my aging mind, I have come to realize that these annoyances are signs my time on this earth is finite. Little by little, in sneaky, evil ways, my body is wearing down—slowly and steadily, sure—but it’s all basically leading to the same place. Things will continue to drop lower and lower with every passing year, until I am officially underground.
- Most of the time I walk around feeling, um, maybe…about 13? But then, I get around a real thirteen-year-old—like, my own kid, who seems to have leapt from baby blankets into concert t-shirts in the blink of an eye. He sits at the kitchen table doing his homework, protractor in hand, reading from that heavy-as-a-brick-textbook, while I experience freaky, wild flashbacks to my youth. Wasn’t that just me? It feels that way—but oh shit, that was like, 30 years ago. I have a living, breathing reminder that over there at that table, THAT is the kid, and I am the grown-up. I am not actually 13. He is. I have to help him with his homework, not do it myself.
- I appreciate the comfort and safety of certain authority figures. Policemen, teachers, doctors, therapists. They represent a little bit of security in our precarious world. However, now it seems we are all roughly around the same age, or, worse, they are younger than I am. It turns out my doctor, who I had assumed was around my age, has a three-year-old and a one-year-old, which means she is likely a decade or so younger than I am. The reality of this idea crushes me. How can I look up to anyone who was born in the eighties? What good are these people if I’m not at least a tiny bit in awe of them?
Have faith! There are some good things about getting older! Or, as I like to think of it:
Things That Don’t Entirely Suck About Ageing
- You never have to stay in a youth hostel again.
- With age comes wisdom. With wisdom comes the realization that Corporate America is always looking for ways to get into my wallet, so I’ve keyed myself into the world of beauty hacks, mostly from those little zygotes on You-Tube my daughter watches on the daily. One particularly good one: to deep-condition your hair, mix some olive oil with half of an avocado (especially an overripe one), let it sit on your hair for half an hour, rinse, shampoo and voila — your hair will look and feel incredibly soft and shiny. You may smell like a salad, but your hair will look amazing.
- Kids say the funniest things—and as they grow older, we laugh together over the same stuff, which is even better than laughing at the cute things they say and do when they are little.
- I don’t care what people think about me. Wait, that is not entirely true. Well, maybe it’s a little bit true. An eighth of an ounce true? Ok, here it is: at 47 years of age, I only care a teeny tiny, itty-bitty, little bit about the feelings total strangers have towards me. Success!
- My kids are getting older. Sometimes, this makes me sad. When that happens, I make myself remember I will never again be at the checkout line at the grocery store, smell something funky, look at my sweet babe and realize with horror that they have made one of those gigantic-up-the-back-through-the-onesie-almost-to-the-neck poops. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing in life prepares you for those moments.
- Who the hell needs to wear a bikini, anyway? I have birthed three babies. Wouldn’t it be lovely if that was honored just a little bit more in our culture than having a thigh gap is? Besides, “bikini-ready-body” is just a term made up by marketing executives.
- Saturday nights. There was a time in my life where I wouldn’t be caught dead home alone on a Saturday night. Now, most of the time, what brings me happiness on a Saturday night is when someone’s kid gets sick and our plans get cancelled at the last minute. Thank goodness for the germs other people’s kids spread around to each other!
- Romance. As all of us married folk know, over the years, we go up, down, and all around with our partners. Sometimes, I love my husband with a fiery intensity and can’t wait to see him after the end of a long work day. Other times, I ponder what an acceptable amount of time would have to pass before I could start dating after his death.
Here’s the thing—there are times where we absolutely cannot stand one another. Also, sometimes I truly miss (and I know he does as well), our early days of wining and dining and traveling and sleeping and hot sex. After twenty years of togetherness though, I’ve come to realize that romance truly does evolve, and takes on new, deeper meanings after making it through the good, bad, and downright gross times. Staying together through so many profound changes, both personally and as a couple, and then actually still wanting to hang around each other (at least some of the time?) Kind of remarkable. In addition, I’m grateful he didn’t run out the door screaming during those periods when I lived in ripped pajamas, granny panties and (yes) adult diapers (the aftermath of giving birth is very elegant.) Plus! Due to the miracle of love (or amnesia), he still thinks I’m cute and sexy and wants to have sex all the time. Which is a much better way to spend time in these middle-aged years than staring at my creping skin and pondering impending death.
Emily Loeb is a wife, a mother of three, a yoga teacher and a freelance writer. Among other publications, her work has appeared in Long Island Pulse Magazine, Mamalode, and BLUNTmoms.