So this past Tuesday was my birthday,and I am now 43, firmly entrenched in middle age.
I've been thinking this week about how I was going to approach getting older. Like most women in this time, I battle the physical creep of age. Okay, I don't battle it that hard, but I do notice certain things aren't the same as they were a few years ago.
I've come up with 10 things that prove aging isn't an easy, graceful process.
1) Weight: It's true, I think, for most women, that the metabolism is the first thing to go. Sure, we all blame weight gain to child birth, to sedentary office jobs we take because it fits with kids' schedules, to raising kids and eating kids' food which is fine for children who have the metabolism of rabbits, but not so good for us. I suppose I could point to the Internet too as a reason for weight gain. Hey, if I can get everything online, why bother getting up, going outside, driving a car to a store, walk around? That just seems wasteful to me!
Try as we might with gym memberships, pedometers and whatever latest shake fad diet there is, the weight sticks with us.
Well, I mean, I suppose we could eat that Special K cereal with the chocolate bits instead of inhaling half a gallon of extra creamy choco-marshmallow ice cream while watching "The Biggest Loser."
Let's not get crazy!
2) Aches and pains and energy...or lack thereof!
I can remember sleeping on the floor at a friend's house for about three hours, getting up, going to class, working a job, and coming back to my room to a late night pizza party, then going to bed at about three only to get up and doing it all again. Other than being a little sleepy in class, I could live like that for weeks on end, so long as I got a four hour nap on Sunday afternoons.
Now, if I'm not in a Tylenol PM coma by 11, that 5:45 alarm is all but missed. Then I drag myself through my work day, boosted by coffee. And forget about sleeping on the floor. If I'm not a couch at the very least (and my tempur pedic bed is definitely the better choice!) my back and hips ache all the next day. Not only that, but if I've been sitting too long, and then I get up to walk, thanks to my heal ailments, I stagger around for a couple steps like some old person...
But why get up from the chair at all? It's sort of just easier to wait until a family member strolls past for me to request them to fetch something for me. This plan has made it possible for me to spend large chunks of time on the couch without actually having to move off of the heating pad.
As for boosting my energy level with caffeine...I'm not the only mom at the soccer game with the Starbucks cup. That's all I'm sayin' about that.
I'm not saying I'm losing it or anything, but there are days I cannot remember things. In writing this blog today I actually had to sit try to recall the word "metabolism." It took me a couple of minutes. But words aren't all you lose with age. Hubby and I often have conversations that go something like this:
ME: Do you remember that movie with the guy and the boat?
Hubby: You mean that guy, what's his name? The one with the hat?
Me: No, the other guy...the one with the wife who did that song with that other guy.
Hubby: Oh, yeah. That guy.
Me: So do you remember that movie?
Hubby: What movie?
Me: What do you mean, what movie?
Hubby: What are we talking about?
Me: I don't know. Is Sport Center on?
Personally, I blame a lot of things on my memory loss, but mostly I don't think of it as memory loss. I believe the human brain only has so much space in it. Mine is full of Princess Bride quotes, Rick Springfield song lyrics, and family birthdays. I have phone numbers stored in my brain. (Teen agers don't memorize phone numbers anymore. So, when a cell phone dies, I am the smartest person in the room.) So, if I forget where I put my purse (which I do every morning) or if I forget what the word for "metabolism" is, I can't feel bad about it because if I actually memorized where I set my purse down, I would lose information I will definitely need later...like the complete lyrics to "Super Freak," or the real names of the cast of "Emergency."
Yes, now we're getting to the crux of aging, aren't we? The hair on my head is turning white, regardless of what I do to it. Hubby tells me to embrace the white hair, as he has...or as he would be if he had any visible white hair on his head. (Men with white hair are distinguished. Women with white hair...) Meanwhile, the hair on my FACE is turning BLACK, and growing nice and thick!
WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT?
Well, I'm from German stock, so I'm a naturally hairy person. My razor is my best friend. I don't travel to warm places anymore because, thanks to 9-11 security, I'm not allowed to bring a razor on a plane. A woman my age does not get into a swim suit without a touch up on the legs and pits.
But when the hair on my face started to betray me...especially on my cute as a button chin (okay, chins...) I got indignant. If I had to have black hair, why couldn't it be on the HEAD and the face? Conversely, if I must go white, why can't the hair on my FACE be also white? Why must my old age include a darling little fu-manchu dealie on my chin? Hmmmmm?
So I have a couple of choices. I can embrace the white hair on my head and battle the black hair on my face. I can battle the white hair on my head AND the black hair on my face. Or, I can just give up and hope that the white hear hair/scanty black beard look comes in for American women at some point.
As if fashion for curvy girls isn't bad enough, now let's try to find something nice for a curvy girl who is over the age of 18 and under the age of 80. Everything in the plus sized section of most stores either has puffy sleeves, something I gave up in my teens, or looks like cruise wear for the blue haired set.
I thought I was doing okay, shopping at CJ Banks the other day. I love that store. The clothes are well made and if you find a good sale, they aren't too expensive. However, while trying on something I emerged from the trying on room to the disapproving eyes of Peaches.
"Mom, you cannot wear that," says she.
"Because that's old lady clothes."
I was wearing a perfectly acceptable pair of jeans, but I was trying on one of those adorable sweatshirts with the collar and the cute picture of snowmen...you know, that triptych of pictures across the chest? it's a top that's comfortable, but also a little dressy. At least, that's what I THOUGHT.
So I walked Peaches around the store and she picked out...nothing.
"It's all old lady clothes mom."
While I was flattered that she didn't want me wearing old lady clothes, I wasn't sure she meant it as a compliment. After all, I've gotten some of my best outfits from CJ Banks.
After an exhaustive search of two more plus sized clothing stores, I've decided that it is actually easier to lose weight than it is to find something age appropriate in my size. And if that's really true...shame on clothing designers because it's really hard to lose weight!
Maybe I'll just wait until I'm old enough for the snowman sweatshirt...or at least until Peaches is in college. Then she can't tell me how to dress!
I HAVE WRINKLES. WHY AM I STILL GETTING PIMPLES.
7) Find a moisturizer that works...really works.
There are 1000's of ads for moisturizers for women. And not that many for men. I've tried a ton of different products for women and have yet to find one that doesn't make my still somewhat supple skin oily. I can't go without it because, thanks to Andie McDowell, I'm very aware of my deep set wrinkles. (I call one Peaches and the other one Skippy.)
That search continues...
I live in a region where the weather can be super humid or super dry from day to day. After living in this region my whole life, my skin is starting to rebel against the constant changes in air moisture. On humid days I'm okay, but when the air dries out, as it does in the winter, my skin dries out and I start to have issues with a burning feeling in my legs and back. "Winter Skin" my mother calls it. (Thanks for that clinical diagnosis doc.) Again, I've tried all sorts of creams and lotions, and very little eases the burning. One thing has helped a little, however. Not showering every day. The hot water dries out skin really fast, so not showering every day eases that exposure.
One problem, and I know middle aged women everywhere will agree with me. By 40 there's a certain funk that women start to notice about themselves. It's a funky stink that wasn't there in our 30's. It's almost impossible to pinpoint. It's no one certain body part that smells, it's everything. So there I am, burning skin or funky stink?
Oh yes, that's a great choice to have to make at 5:45 AM. And it's not a choice I can make unless I was in a Tylenol PM coma by 11, and in a bed the night before!
9) Intolerance for food and drink
When you're a kid, all you want to do is do what you want to do, eat what you want to eat and not have to listen to anyone.
Once you're an adult, you realize you have to listen to one very important being...your body.
People in my age group live in fear of late night heartburn. Don't believe me? Turn on the TV. Ignore all the Erectile Disfunction-female satisfaction-maxi pad-athlete's foot commercials and you'll see a huge glut of heartburn meds out there.
Heartburn is our body's way of telling us party time is over. I get heartburn if I drink too much wine. I get heartburn if I drink coffee too late at night. I get heartburn if I eat something involving tomato sauce.
Sometimes I just get heartburn just because. And that's the biggest head scratcher. As I'm clawing through the medicine cabinet at 3 in the morning (why don't I have this sitting on my nightstand? Probably because I forgot to put it there. Hey, I do not have room in my brain to remember something like that...I have to keep the theme song to the Lawrence Welk show up there!) looking for Tums or Rolaids, I go through my day's intake. And, after being horrified by what I've shoved down my pie hole, I realize I didn't eat anything heartburn inducing. Which is about the time I start cursing the aging process.
10) General uncoolness in the eyes of the younger set.
I am the coolest Sunday School Teacher my church has ever had.
I am the coolest parent that ever walked.
Both of these statements were once true. But, as I aged, I became less cool. I don't know when it happened. One day, my children decided that hanging out with me wasn't cool anymore. My Sunday School kids no longer think of me as the shock jock of Sunday School. Where once what I said or thought was absorbed, now it's ignored...if I'm lucky, or mocked. I'm not longer cool. Because I'm no longer young.
And that's the cruelest blow to anyone, isn't it?
So, hey, happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to hairy, itchy, stinky, uncool me. I'm going to go now, put on my snowman shirt with the collar, and take some Tylenol PM for all the aches and pains, and settle into bed. I know I'll be up at 3 looking for some Tums, but I'm not going to go find them now for two very good reasons: first, I don't have the energy and second...
...well, second I've already forgotten what I was looking for.
Would anyone like to hear the list of zip codes I've lived in?
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