I am getting older. I get it. I am coming to terms with waking up with the kind of aches and pains that I thought only grandparents felt. I have accepted that from here on out I will be referred to as “ma’am” by 20-year-old baristas and that I will never again be carded by a bartender. There are, however, a few things I didn’t anticipate happening in my 40th year.
My bladder is my enemy. Whether I am 15 minutes into a cross-country road trip or just stepped through the automatic doors of a department store, I suddenly have to pee as though I’ve been tossing back beers at the stadium during Monday Night Football. The closer I get to the restroom, the stronger the urge. When I finally make it into a stall (after waiting in line behind six women, including two who are coaxing their indignant 2-year-olds to “please make a peepee”), I will undoubtedly be wearing something impossible to remove, like a a jumpsuit with a zipper running down my back or anything over full-body Spanx.
The overnight growth of a 2-inch long boob hair. Can someone please explain this devil science to me?
While we are on the subject of hair, finding a gray hair somewhere unexpected, like my eyebrows. And by eyebrows, I mean…eyebrows. Yep, that’s exactly what I meant. Eyebrows. Moving on…
Accidentally discovering that I’m older than a lot of celebrities (and their parents?!). You know that moment when you’re watching an awards show on tv and Justin Bieber comes on, and he’s kind of sexy and you’re all like, “Dang! How old is he again?” Then you Google him, only to find out that you are 3 months older–than his MOM! Oh, and that article also linked you to Selena Gomez’s bio where you learn that her mom is younger than you, too. OK, maybe I’m old to be a Belieber, but how did I miss the 1994 seminar on raising your children to become YouTube sensations and Disney Channel ingénues?
Fishing for compliments. I’ve become that loser lady who calls herself “old” all the time. I catch myself spewing phrases like, “when you’re my age…” or “at almost 40…” to the 20-somethings behind the register at Francesca’s. I secretly hope that one of them will be visibly shocked that I could possibly be a day over 29 and tell me so. But instead, they usually smile politely and remind me of their return policy.
But the approach to 40 hasn’t been all bad. I have also been surprised in so many positive ways.
The rebirth of self-confidence. After years of stressing about my weight, my hair, my wardrobe, and countless other personal qualms, I have reached a point in my life where I am comfortable in my skin. I still spend way more time researching Botox and liposuction than I feel comfortable sharing, but the truth is that if given the chance, I will likely never permanently change my appearance. I am happy as I am. I know that I will never be People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Person, but I was totally told by two different people in the 90’s that I looked just like Sandra Bullock in Speed, so take that as you will, my friends.
The organic loss of toxic friendships. Over the last few years, I kept finding myself in dissatisfying or unbalanced friendships. After taking inventory of these relationships and figuring out why they made me so unhappy, I came to realize that I had never enforced important personal boundaries. I regularly allowed myself to ignore behaviors that would generally be considered deal-breakers out of fear of confrontation or alienation.
Once I accepted that it was better to be alone than with people who made me feel small, I started to make my boundaries clear. It was only a matter of time before I was rid of the critics, the liars, the opportunists, and the narcissists in my life. I now had room for authentic and encouraging relationships. Nothing feels better than coming home from a night out with friends without harboring hurt feelings, feeling considered, supported, and with the desire to hang out again.
I already have built-in BFFs. A lot of people complain about their teenagers, but I totally dig mine. While sometimes they drive me batty and I threaten to back over their phones with my car, my teenagers are my best buds. We are partners in crime— if it is, in fact, a crime to dip fries into a McDonald’s hot fudge sundae. I’ll admit that there have been times over the years that I wished I’d waited until my 30s to start a family, if only to have been more patient and mature during their toddler years. But I really am grateful that I had them when I did. It makes it a lot easier to pass as a student when I move in to their college dorm rooms in a couple of years. I am only sort of kidding.
Middle-aged no longer means over the hill. Many of my 40-year-old friends are still having babies, wearing bikinis, and running marathons. We’ve traded muumuus and house slippers for activewear and Nikes. Our hairdressers are giving us sexy bayalage highlights instead of sensibly cropped salt and pepper ‘dos. We go to yoga and acupuncture for our aches rather than visiting a geriatrician for prescription arthritis medication.
Maybe we can no longer pass for 25, but as good as 40 looks today, why would anyone want to?
About the Author
Yvette Manes is a freelance writer, audiobook & podcast enthusiast, compulsive redecorator & cheapskate fashionista. The proud Florida native is a blogger at AquaSeventy6 and has the reputation of being kinda crafty. You can find her work on Club Mid, Scary Mommy and in the Notes app on her iPhone. When she’s not embarrassing her two teenagers by booty dancing in public, she’s eating her way around town with her husband of 17 years. Find her on Twitter , Facebook , and Instagram .