There is no way I am going to confess to being middle aged. I will however admit that perhaps — high heels and all — I might be approaching middle age. In a bit. Soon. Maybe.
Not to say I don’t find myself in exceptional company (cough, Demi Moore not being included because well, that’s Just. Not. Fair.). Stunningly beautiful and provocatively powerful forty-something-year-old women are not just a Madison Avenue advertising gimmick. We are real and we rock — and not just because our twenty-something-year-old protégés seem to be getting blonder and dumber – but perhaps because we fully embrace all the glorious perks that come with bidding adieu to acne and buh-bye to baby gear. I for one appreciate the wisdom that accumulates throughout the years, the irony that shines through child-rearing and the clarity that comes with a matured self-confidence (otherwise known as, the older I get, the less I care who likes me). As all women will eventually come to know, it is completely and wildly empowering.
But alas, there is no sugar-coating the downside.
There are a lot of things about approaching middle age that well, sorta suck ass. The most obvious one: that mildly annoying shelf of flesh that pushes against the top of my jeans. Now, I’m not directly opposed to the added pounds that have found their way to my scale since say, college. I clearly see the benefit of a little extra sumthin-sumthin plumping out the crows feet around my eyes. (Truth: our first reaction to a friend’s dramatic weight-loss is ALWAYS a rousing “Woo Hooooo!” which is ALWAYS followed by an inward gasp and silent “Holy crap, you look a hundred….”) But really, the belly thing? I am officially all done with this. I just can’t worry about it anymore because (cue in chagrinned look) I am fully aware that I flatly refuse to do what I’m supposed to do to make it go away. I have seen Jill ian Michael’s ferocious face take up 52 inches of my television screen and bellow, “Ladies, if you want to lose the belly, GET OFF THE SAUCE!” and I have sensed the collective sigh of women my age. Come on now. I think I was actually holding a glass of wine at the time yet still didn’t put it down. Really, she may be the scariest thing since, I don’t know, seeing a silvery stretch mark for the very first time, but that’s sooooo not going to happen anytime soon. I’ve simply got to hold up the white flag on this one. Shrug. I find creative dressing is the way to go. Much like the flowy scarf that masks the waddle, I feel the trendy vest is my new friend. Done.
So no, approaching middle age women should never, ever have to give up wine. Or beer on hot summer days either. Or hell, even vodka (on the days when we’re all wined out and beer’s made us bloated). It’s the unspoken golden ring on the merry-go-round of getting through our husbands’ inability to gravitate toward a clearance rack… or our children driving for the first time… or celebrating a bountiful vegetable garden…or mastering a golf swing…or starting a new job… or getting a funny feature published (clink, clink, cheers!).
We have earned every sip of every toast we rejoice in making. Sorry belly roll, you lose. May stretch denim forever mock your existence.
Another huge blow of approaching middle age comes in the way of one’s eyesight, rather the lack thereof. Personally, this one was devastating for me because after decades of battling coke-bottle glasses and countless ripped contact lenses I went in for not one but TWO laser surgeries to possess elusive 20/20 vision. Geeze…..that was like chasing a unicorn running after a fairy: no sooner had I started driving for the first time – you know, actually reading the street signs — did I immediately lose the ability to read the directions on a box of brownies. I now have a magnifying mirror in my bathroom and cheap reading glasses (in every color, natch) in every room in my home, as well as every pocketbook, glove compartment and junk drawer. Pat hetic. Really, really pathetic.
There’s a slew of minor annoyances that seem to spring up daily (like my once-enviable fingernails suddenly turning into paper-thin wafers – whatthehell?????) but arguably the worst part about approaching middle age is the unwanted and maddening sleep pattern we are forced to adopt. All of a sudden our bodies are incapable of sleeping soundly and – making things worse — the vampires we spawned hit puberty and late night becomes the new happy hour. Noooooooooo……….
Forget clichéd hot flashes – I am freaking tired and I’m not afraid to say it. Just when I’d tossed out anything resembling a pacifier and gotten four kids and a snoring spouse to sleep through the night, in the blink of an eye they’ve become MTVers, with sleep-all-day-watch-TV-til-dawn habits. I’ve tried to remain hip. Rather than shout down the hallway I’ve tried texting from bed to tell them to knock it off and go to sleep but (see aforementioned lack of eyesight) my garbled demand always comes out like a butt dial, with gobble-dee-gook that draws roars. If I hear their snickers I usually just roll over and put another pillow over my head. It’s just not worth the fight.
It’s a cruel paradox: the teenager in me really, really wants to sleep in until eleven most days but the geriatric in me finds my eyes inexplicably flying open at six every morning. So there you go. It’s simple math: when curfews get later, my parental working hours obviously get longer and I become cranky. Er. A lot crankier. Hence the wine. Hence the belly roll. See? Cruel times.
Still, I imagine all these changes have to be taken in stride (watch the stress, ladies – it causes wrinkles) because-certainly — it could be a heck of a lot worse. As I watch my husband slathering on heat rub before, during and after his softball game…I don’t feel so bad anymore. I just tuck a pair of reading glasses into my muffin-top-hiding vest and go along to cheer him on.