I turn 40 in about seven months and I realize that this means I am likely about halfway through my life, and that from here on, I will slowly deteriorate physically and mentally. Already, I have learned that it takes me longer to recover from late nights and crap food and even exercise, than it did when I was younger. I find my brain sort of short circuiting when I’m tired, making it so I have a hard time remembering words and thoughts. I’m more easily distracted and have a harder time mentally getting back on track. I used to listen to older people talk about how annoying it is to get old and I would shudder inwardly and tell myself “I am never going to get that way!” Well, whether I want it to or not, it’s happening.
I have friends that are younger than me who quip “Age is what you make it!’ and “Age is just a number!” but they are fools, because there really is something ugly and unpleasant about getting older physically and mentally.
Now, I should say, to people ten or twenty years (or even only five year) older than me I am still a youngster in my prime, and have no reason to start moaning about old age yet, but it’s all relative, right?
I like to think that I’m as young and hip and elastic as I was in my twenties, but I’m not, and no amount of thinking and wishing will make it so. Maybe with some plastic surgery…
This is the part where I should probably say something conciliatory, like even though I am no longer a slip of a young thing, I am, at nearly forty, really confident in who I am as a person and not all freaked out about what everyone else thinks—and this is true, but I still would like my 18 year old body back, thank you.
I would also like my idealism and sense of invincibility back. I would like to be taken seriously as a human being and not be relegated to “soccer mom” or “someone’s wife.” We praise the young and encourage them because they have their whole lives ahead of them and they can “be anything” they want to be. One of my pet peeves at church is the focus on telling the kids how awesome they are. They don’t know a damn thing without the generation that came before them, and even thought my kids ARE awesome, they didn’t do it alone. Sure, they came with proclivities towards kindness and industriousness and studiousness, but if I and my husband and a host of other people our age and older hadn’t nurtured that, my kids would probably be snaggletoothed little trolls. Let’s be real here.
Temptation and struggle don’t go away when you become a grown up and take on adult responsibilities. In fact, I think temptation and struggle intensify. Being a decent adult is hard. Attempting to be an exemplary adult is even harder. I want an A for effort. And a cookie.
Now tell me I’m pretty.