Well in two days I turn 43. I feel like in the past three years since I hit the big one, I’ve lived a whole other lifetime. And honestly I suppose in a way that is kind of true – I mean I am experiencing my very first pandemic, not to mention I watched my close friend lose her battle to cancer. So yeah… a lifetime. Anyway, it dawned on me recently that I’m officially “middle aged” – maybe even past middle age. Who knows. I mean I feel like I’ve been calling myself middle aged for the past decade, but I think it officially hit me when my daughter said to me the other day, “but Mom, you’re SO old. I’m 7. Think how old 43 is to me.” I remember being in high school and thinking my dad was “SO old” so while it still hurts, I totally get where she’s coming from. Perspective is a funny thing.
Anyway, they say that age is just a number – and that’s sort of true. But also sort of not. But I’ve been thinking about all the ways that I actually KNOW I’m middle-aged besides for the fact that I don’t get carded anymore. So I’d like to start out with one of my favorites – just don’t tell my rule-following husband. But rarely do I ever measure anymore when I’m cooking. And yes, some of you professionals have been doing this since you were 12 (you know who you are.) But for me, it’s not because I’m some fantastic cook or anything. I just simply don’t care enough to take the time to do it! I’m basically above the act of measuring if you would. I didn’t even know that was a thing, but hey, here I am being middle aged and not measuring a damn thing. And along those same lines – I now officially have a shelf in my kitchen cabinet that consists solely of “duplicate spices.” Because I can never remember what I have or don’t have. Last time I checked, I actually had three containers of Crushed Red Pepper. And remember I have three young kids… I’m not exactly cooking up all the spicy foods.
But moving on. I think I’m like most people in that my friends have always been important to me. I don’t think that will ever change. But lately I’ve noticed that I find spending time with my dad and stepmom to be just as enjoyable as spending time with my friends. Now maybe that’s just because my dad is “SO old” and realizes he needs to be living his best life while he can so he’s pretty fun but… I do sincerely think that I’m to an age where I can truly appreciate his company. I suppose it’s all cyclical. As a kid you can’t leave your parents’ side. Then as a teen you think it’d be okay if you never saw them again. In your 20’s, you kind of weave in and out, and in your 30’s you were so sleep-deprived from having babies that even if you did see them you wouldn’t remember. And now, here I am in my 40’s wishing I was back home more often than not. I suppose it’s a good feeling to appreciate one’s parents. I know not everyone does or even has a reason to feel that way. So for me, I consider it a nice perk to this life stage.
Something I don’t consider a perk, however, are the physical changes. I remember being in my 20’s and thinking I was “cool” for buying some random face cream at Walgreens to help with aging. And then I would let it sit in my bathroom because I never cared enough to apply it since I was never going to look old anyway. And when I was old – you know like 43 – I’d be too old to really even care what I looked like. So it would sit until I saw some other commercial for a new product and the process would just start all over. Yet here I am now, approaching 43 and my medicine cabinet is basically a mini Sephora. I have tried, and continue to try, every over-priced “miracle” cream that promises to “revitalize your youthful appearance.” And yet a gazillion dollars later, (and I know it’s a gazillion dollars because my husband reminds me how much I’m wasting every night as I lather on all 15 products) I somehow still look – wait for it – (GASP) 43.
But it’s not just the magic potion creams, don’t forget about the makeup. I never wore makeup when I was younger. And if I did, it was for the sole purpose to attempt to look “hot.” These days, however, “hot” has been replaced with “coverage.” Coverage to cover up the sun spots, the bags under the eyes, the dark circles. And soon it’s going to be for the grays. Because after this past year, they are officially coming in hot. Gone are the fun, flirty eyelashes-for-days makeup. And here to stay is the hunt for the best anti-aging, best cover up anything and everything that is making me not look 17 anymore. Because I swear 17 is how I will always see myself. I just can’t figure out who this stranger is that looks back at me in the mirror these days.
Aging is just such a double-edged sword. The older you get, the more likely you are to get your head out of your ass and realize all the dumb shit that you thought you knew or cared about in your youth was in fact, just that – dumb shit. When you finally gain the confidence to be comfortable in your own skin, that skin morphs into another being that you don’t even recognize. I may not ever embrace my deeply indented smile lines or terrible crow’s feet that I inherited from my father, but I can, with confidence, say that I’ve earned them. Those lines are a part of my story and here to ride out the storm, however long that may be. So while I’m definitely not in the old-age stage of “not caring who I fart in front of” I’ll continue to bide my time in the “I am way too good to measure that spice” stage. There truly are perks to every stage of life – sometimes you just have to change your perspective a bit in order to see them.