Whenever I get together with girlfriends, no matter who, the conversation eventually turns to ageing and how we feel about reaching middle age. I wonder if men do this too? (If you’re a man reading this, that’s a legitimate question by the way).
Last weekend saw my annual reunion with uni friends, girls I’ve known since the tender age of 19. We’ve walked the highs and lows of marriage, babies, parenting teenagers and now…middle age.
I actually hate that term ‘middle age’. It has frumpy connotations that I spend my life trying to avoid. You will notice from the tag line on my blog and Facebook page, that I prefer to call it ‘midlife’. It is what it says on the tin; at 47, we are slap bang in the middle of our lives (okay perhaps a little over but let’s not split hairs).
When you replace ‘life’ with ‘age’, it suddenly sounds old. In my head I’m not old and when laughing and reminiscing with these particular friends, I’m transported right back to 1994. At this point, the fact that our bums are losing gravity with every passing year and the bags under our eyes have definitely lost the make-up battle, no-one cares because we are all 23 again.
Until we look in the mirror that is. Why do mirrors have to spoil everything?
I have always said that I would never succumb to fillers or botox (I think you’d be surprised by the number of people my age who regularly have the latter) and my three comrades all agreed. We scoffed at the celebrities who appear to be stuck in a wrinkle-free time warp. The ones who *might* have married a certain person in 1995, meaning that unless they were 5 years old at the time, they must be in their late 40s by now (*cough* Amanda Holden).
The thing is, there is no getting away from the ageing process. We are all going to die one day and I would rather do that looking my age, than looking ridiculous. Wouldn’t you? Please tell me that we are on the same page here.
So rather than throwing out the question ‘What’s the worst thing about ageing?’ (as I did to my uni friends last weekend) we should be discussing the best things about reaching our mid 40s, because there really are SO many…
1. We no longer feel embarrassed about our bodies
I see the agony that my teenage girls go through but no one expects a 40-something woman to be toned, supple and hair-free. Well I hope not anyway, because I really couldn’t give a monkeys.
2. There’s no kudos for staying up past midnight
In fact, it’s positively frowned upon! I’m so relieved about that, aren’t you?
3. We can be confident about our likes and dislikes
I feel absolutely no pressure to pretend I like something in order to fit in. I’ll admit to having a wobble in my early 40s but these days, I know what I like and I like what I know. End of.
4. We’ve proved ourselves already
We’ve had numerous ‘careers’, given birth (some of us more than once) and pretty much achieved enough to gain respect from others. At 47, I feel no pressure to prove myself to anyone.
5. We are answering to no one
Think Thelma and Louise. Who doesn’t want some of what they were having?
6. No need to wash our hair as often
Has anyone else noticed this? I just don’t get oily hair any more and I love not having to wash my hair every other day.
7. We can start winding down
Off the back of number 4, we can relax and start to take life at a slower pace. In fact people are telling us to and it feels good.
8. With age come wisdom
Experience is where wisdom comes from and when you’ve been on this planet for 40+ years, I think we’ve probably all gained a bit, no exceptions.
9. And perspective
Obviously midlife hormones try very hard to rob us of perspective but I think age and experience helps us to gain it. I know that I am a lot more rational/realistic about life these days and that helps no end.
10. Having grown up children
For some of us this hasn’t quite happened yet but I can already see how much I’m going to enjoy my children’s company without feeling responsible for them. Bring it on!
So my fellow 40+ ladies (and gents if you’ve got this far) there really is no excuse – instead of being ashamed, we should be proud! Let’s celebrate those lines and remember that they are a symbol of wisdom/survival.
Now it’s your turn – what’s the best thing about reaching middle age?