I’ve had a nice big patch of white hair over my right temple since our tumultuous 2011 experiences, but until recently, only a few others would appear here and there, easily ripped out and dismissed as mere annoyances. These days however, new white hairs appear with devastating frequency. And they’re no longer happy to let themselves be contained in an area that can somewhat easily be masked. Oh no. They’re popping up everywhere.
And then there’s this weird thing happening on my chest. As in, when I wake up I have these disgustingly deep wrinkles all down my cleavage. They fade as the day progresses, but man is that a hard thing to see first thing in the morning. It’s like I’m getting old or something.
Or rather, it’s like my body is trying to tell me something.
It’s like it’s trying to hint at the fact that I’m turning 40 in just three months.
4. 0. In. 3. Months.
And how is that even possible?
I thought I was going to be young forever.
Or, rather, I thought I was still young.
Because young is a mindset, right? I’m sure I saw a poster on Pinterest that said something to that effect. And if it’s on Pinterest, it must be true. Right? RIGHT?
And I really thought I was still hip, and cool, and with it. I mean, I have a stripe of bluish green mermaid hair for crying out loud, if that doesn’t scream hip, I don’t know what does.
And then we went to Las Vegas, and spotted a young woman dressed in a show-girl outfit, posing in the street with people delighted to spend a couple dollars to have their picture taken with her. All she was wearing in lieu of a bra were two pretty little flower shaped pasties.
When M pointed her out to me, I gasped.
“Oh, that poor girl’s mother…” I whimpered.
M gave me a look, which made me whimper even louder.
Because cool, young, hip people don’t look at scantily clad girls and wonder if their mom knows what they do for a living. Ergo, I am clearly not cool, young, or hip.
The next day, while lounging by the pool in my no nonsense tummy control bathing suit from Lands End, I actually googled “how old is middle aged?”
Good news, apparently, it’s not an age, it’s a state of mind.
Bad news, I might be heading that way on a runaway train fueled by un-hip Mom thoughts and tummy control bathing suits.
Of course, ever since then, I’ve been dreaming up tattoos that would prove to the world once and for all that I was still very much hip and cool.
At least, I did that until this morning, when I was in the shower having the kinds of deep thoughts you can only have when not being interrupted by kids, dogs, social media messages, or anything else that constantly interrupt my thoughts during the day.
As I lathered up my hair and wondered if there was some magic shampoo that could make my white hair a little less brittle, I asked myself why I was so terrified at the thought of getting older.
I thought about all of the things I have accomplished in the last ahem – 40 – ahem years.
I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have filled those years well. I have tried and tested lots. I have learned even more. I have been daring and bold. I have lived life fully. And I’m not even close to done living life fully.
I may no longer have a chest that won’t quit, or the kinds of looks that help me get ahead in life. But I have smarts I’ve honed carefully for many years. Hard won experience I can put to good use. And it’s so much more satisfying to know I’m landing jobs because I’m good at what I do, rather than because I look cute in a suit.
Yes, I’m still freaking out about the big birthday. Yes, I’m still googling tattoos. But I think I’m starting to get a grip on the whole thing. 40 is a major benchmark, but it would be more worrisome if I had nothing to show for all those spent years.
I get to spend the next 40 putting into effect what I spent the first 40 learning and practicing. So, maybe it’s time to accept that wisdom and experience have youth beat in all the ways that matter. But, if I’m brutally honest, and why wouldn’t I be at this point, now that you know all about the weird cleavage wrinkles…, I might have to sit with that thought for a while. It might take a long while to start feeling like a truth rather than something I’m trying to trick myself into believing.
And then, of course, there’s this…. The brutal reminder that I’m damn lucky to be struggling with these feelings at all.