Ugh. She is me. But why is it so hard to admit that? I really should have more self-confidence by now and not allow myself to become a victim of ageism. Alas, I just don’t have the strength to find that inner psyche of “I am woman, hear me roar.” Too damn lazy for all of that.
Nope. It feels better to just face the reality that there is truly something different about being a (gulp) middle-aged mom rather than pretend that age is just a number and you’re only as old as you feel…blah, blah, blah.
Listen, I cried when I turned 25. Why? Because I had finally entered my late twenties, obviously. That age was thoroughly depressing to me back then because I was having so much fun that I didn’t want it to come to an end–like ever. Now of course, I wouldn’t mind going back in time just so I could slap my 25 year-old self up the side of her stupid head. Although, as revolting as it is to shed tears over such a beautiful number, I have to admit, that young girl must’ve had some kind of inclination of what was coming.
Throughout my thirties, the changes in my appearance and physical well-being crept along slowly enough for me not to notice too much, thank goodness. Although, I did have to deal with that luscious after baby body. That was fun. Killing myself everyday with those HIIT workouts only to realize that after three kids and hitting my goal weight, no amount of horrid planks or crunches were ever going to shrinky dink my belly skin. Unfortunately, acceptance was my only friend at that point but that didn’t mean I had to like her.
The rest of the changes that fell within that decade were a bit less shocking. Fine little crinkles around my eyes when I’d smile. Increasing feelings of stress and exhaustion–but who could blame me when I had been running after my littles all day long? An inkling of arthritis now and then. And what’s that, a gray hair? Nah…if I didn’t look too closely, I could convince myself that it was just one of my highlights.
Having my first child at the age of 30 sheltered me a bit because these minor things are shruggable when you’re busy with diapers, trips to the zoo, and dance recitals. Then it happens. Ten years magically fly by. You look in the mirror and you’re like, damn 40! What the hell is this?
Throwing out your mirrors won’t help you escape it. The filters on your snapchat won’t erase it. Your spouse and everyone in your inner circle are noticeably getting older therefore, you know that they see it in you too.
Then your OB clinic starts sending you perimenopause class offerings and oh by the way, it’s time to smash your ta-tas because you are overdue for your first mammogram. You used to ignore those hearing aid and denture commercials but now find them offensive and frightening, wondering how much longer do you actually have before you need to call that 1-800 number?
It also doesn’t help when you’re sitting on the field trip bus with your preschooler and the annoying mom behind you starts talking to her kid about how it’s her 22nd birthday that day. What the fudge pop?! O.k., my fault for having my last baby at an “advanced maternal age” but I am thoroughly irritated that I have this chick by an almost whopping twenty years.
Somebody schedule a conference or a band concert at the middle school, quick! You younger moms with older kids know what I’m talking about. You walk up in that middle school or high school like a bad-ass because most of what you see is a bunch of gray hair and worn-out bodies trying to find their way to one of their kid’s classrooms. Swee-eet. For a brief moment, you feel like you can strut it the way you used to in your sorority days, am I right? I’ll be struttin’ in there for sure next week.
What? Do you think I’m being mean and offensive to all of you lovelies out there that are older than me? Don’t worry, I’m gonna get it all back and then some in a few, short years. My youngest is just now in kindergarten. By the time I meet with his middle school teachers, I’ll be waddling through those halls gripping onto my walker with my readers strung around my neck. And if by that time, my doctor decides to put me on a “soft diet” for whatever reason, you can bet I’ll be popping jello-shots on my way in.
I know, I’m exaggerating just a smidge and no I don’t really think anyone in their 50-60s is even close to fitting that image. It just feels good to be a little dramatic at the moment.
Being a mom is hard work, yo! While packing lunches, googling “new math,” and cleaning up our sick kids’ poops and the pukes, this getting older thing sure doesn’t make it any easier. Ah, but that’s life.
Don’t get me wrong…we can find the beauty in getting older, too. We find it in the wisdom we gain through all of our trials and errors. We see it by watching the entire movie of our children’s lives play out before us and celebrating with joy at each accomplishment they achieve. We feel it in the bonds that are strengthened through the years with our significant others and the deep friendships we continue to be blessed by from those we now call our life-long friends.
The beauty is there in our laugh lines. It’s there in those soft bodies that carried our children for so many months or those soft hands that comfort and hold the even softer hands of our aging parents. It’s there in our full hearts that may beat too fast or too slow or too irregular but they beat for the love of our families and friends regardless.
My complaints aside, I actually do see many of the blessings that come with age. I am very grateful for the things that I have and the people that surround me as we go through this life together. I’m not living my life on the daily lamenting about how bad it sucks to be getting old. But it does suck a little, right?
One way or another, we have to deal with it. I’m not sure how many mamas out there can honestly embrace getting older with that deep-down inside, self-assurance. If there’s one person out there that isn’t somewhat bothered by it, then you have my complete admiration for being so above it all.
For the rest of us who still cringe at being called “mam,” I think it’s okay to poke fun at yourself in order to cope with getting older. A little laughter can dull the pain. It’s okay to whine a bit too, because life is hard and you earned it. And sure, go ahead and cry on your 25th birthday if you must.
Just make sure you never lose faith, never stop loving and never stop dreaming. Follow these three things and no matter what age you are, all will be well…in theory.
For now, I’ll be dreaming that I get to keep my teeth and that the only bladder leaks I’ll ever have will be limited to a forceful sneeze every now and then. I’ll be dreaming of retirement, even though it’s still close to a quarter of a century away. I’ll be dreaming of that girl’s vacation I’ve been planning with my bestie for the year 2032. That’s when my last kiddo graduates.
Oh, and I’ll also be dreaming of a life blessed with good health and happiness for all three of my children because as a mom, I can think of nothing better to hope and pray for!
What will you be dreaming of?
Is it possible that your sixty year old self will “slap up side her stupid head” your forty year old self for repeating the mistake of your 25 year old self ? By that I mean failing to embrace the life phase that you currently find yourself in rather than worry about what you fear the future may hold ?
It’s definitely possible! But like I said, I’m not dwelling on getting old everyday and I do see the beauty that comes with age. For me, I like to be a little sarcastic, vent and get the negativity out of my system and then I can go on and enjoy the rest of my day!
Totally get it. Love your writing Cara.
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