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?
Sarah MumofThree World4 years ago
Yes! I love this. So much to feel happy about. For me the best thing is the freedom to go running without worrying that there is nobody to look after the kids.
Suzanne4 years ago
It’s always good to focus on the positives isn’t it? There are definite pros to having older kids, that’s for sure!
Plutonium Sox4 years ago
This is great to read as I’m not that far behind you! I do look forward to not having to worry about childcare or having to bundle the kids in the car every time I want to leave the house. I’m mastering perspective and answering to no-one but I’m still waiting for wisdom to arrive!
Suzanne4 years ago
Okay I’m not wise about everything but with experience we learn, hey? I’m sure you’re just being hard on yourself! Having older kids is definitely a positive thing in many ways, I’m glossing over the not so positive bits 😉 xx
Gail4 years ago
So much I’m nodding along to here, Suzanne. I love that idea about ‘midlife’ – you’re right, calling it middle age does make it sound suddenly much more bleak. Although I’ve had a few issues since turning 40, there are loads of other things on which I’ve gained so much more perspective. And don’t you think that people of 40 plus now seem younger than they used to? Or is that just a sign of getting older myself? I’m not sure! xx
Suzanne4 years ago
Glad I’m not the only one who hates the term ‘middle aged’! I definitely think people of 40+ seem younger these days, perhaps it’s because we live longer or we are looking after ourselves better? xx
The Reading Residence4 years ago
Yes to all of these things! I am absolutely with you, everything does feel much easier and definitely worth celebrating x
Suzanne4 years ago
Obviously there are ‘a few’ downsides but I think it’s important to focus on the positives and I feel so much happier in my own skin as I get older, don’t you?
Nipa4 years ago
Perfect timing, as always Suzanne. I was feeling very grumpy this month about the extra inches that I’ve gained around my middle, but now you’ve gone and made me think about the good things! 1) I love the peace and quiet when the kids are in school 2) I love being able to buy nicer things 3) I love that my husband tells me that I look better as I age. xo Nipa @fashionipa
Suzanne4 years ago
My husband says the same (about me, no you lol!) and tbh, I think most of us are. I will admit to getting grumpy sometimes but I really try not to because there’s so much to be positive about. I think the growing middle goes with the menopause unfortunately doesn’t it 🙁
BLEKE4 years ago
Expressions like “middle age” or “midlife” are a bit misleading, because they imply that we can be sure of living on into old age (70+, 80+, 90+…) — but we can’t, even though life expectancy has greatly increased. Just a thought.
George Formby satirically revealed the truth about those eternally youthful celebrities:
Now there’s a famous talkie queen,
She looks a flapper on the screen,
She’s more like eighty than eighteen,
When I’m cleaning windows.
But I do agree with Gail and yourself that people over 40 nowadays look younger than people over 40 in earlier generations. When I remember my grandparents, or look at photos of them when they were 60+, I realise the benefits of better healthcare and better nutrition.
Now that I can look back on “midlife”, what were some of the good things about it?
Paying off the mortgage.
Cultivating old friendships and forming new ones.
Giving up some long-cherished interests, taking up new ones, and adopting different priorities.
Gaining different perspectives. (My opinions about people and events haven’t necessarily become more favourable!)
And last but not least: “midlife” lasted for a quarter of a century, and was quite a lot better at the end than at the beginning.
Chickenruby4 years ago
I’m 47 also and have written a post for next week about why I hate middle age
Tracey Williams4 years ago
What a great way of looking at midlife and being positive instead of negative. I hate the term middle aged, and I refuse to think of myself as that (despite being 45). Grown up kids are definitely a bonus, and I really feel as if we are getting our life back now. We can go out for lunch on a Saturday and leave the kids at home occasionally. Another thing about midlife is only 7 years left on the mortgage. Surely that is something to celebrate x
Morgana4 years ago
I’m not quite there yet, but if that’s what it’s all about then count me in! xx
Chloe: Picture Taker Memory Maker4 years ago
I’m mid-thirties rather than mid-forties and fluctuate (daily!) between still feeling like a teenager and feeling like a much older soul than I actually am! Self acceptance has been a big thing during my thirties so far – just being completely myself and not caring in the slightest what other people think. The confidence that is ‘supposed’ to come with that is something I’m still working on though. Truthfully, I HATE the worry lines on my forehead but that’s about it. And I am quite looking forward to my girls being more self-sufficient (although the letting go that comes with that is hard!). A thought-provoking post Suzanne – thanks!
Jo4 years ago
Loved this post, especially as I’m about to hit 40 later this year. I’m so glad to be past the teenage years, I was the most self-conscious teenager and that took a long time to shake off. The older I get the less I care what other people think. x
Heledd4 years ago
I can definitely relate to lots of these points! I don’t get embarrassed these days and wash my hair half as often I used to, that’s for sure!! Although, I do still have little kids (the joy of starting late) which means I quite often have to answer to them – the little madams! Great post, love a good list xx
Susan Mann4 years ago
I love this and so much of it is true. Well said. And I would say you do know a lot and have learned over the years xx