‘Well, at least it’s good for the garden,’ I heard myself utter as I spotted the first drop of overdue rain absorbed by our thirsty lawn last week.
A moment of silence ensued in the kitchen.
I froze and the teens looked appalled. The old man smiled knowingly as he slunk back in front of the golf, because he has been riding the middle-aged wave (a little too comfortably) for a while now.
Realisation dawned and panic set in. The life cycle had suddenly started moving too quickly for me.
SHOCK, HORROR! When did I turn into my parents?
Admittedly, on paper I have been middle-aged for a while now; well, that is IF I’D CHOSEN TO ACCEPT THAT PARTICULAR LABEL, of course. But I honestly thought that I’d been managing to do a pretty good job of:
a) successfully disguising my physical age with my liberal (albeit immature) use of ‘mutton’ fashion and over-use of concealing make-up, and
b) maintaining a steadfast grip on my ridiculously immature outlook, which I have proved several times (here), which has helped trick my mind into sustaining a youthfulness that my birth certificate betrays.
But apparently you aren’t actually as old as you feel; that’s an old wives tale. Scientifically speaking, you’re actually as old as your birth register tells you, so no matter how hard we might all try to defy the ageing process and turn back the clock, we’re basically f*cked.
And the descent into middle age is rather like a roller coaster. Once minute you’re cruising along thinking that it’s actually not that bad and then suddenly you blurt out something ridiculous like ‘rain being good for the garden’ without thinking, and you’re betrayed.
Which is what happened to me this week, and it made me understand all the other ways my body is transitioning into the next phase of my cycle.
It’s such a subtle shift, this whole ageing process. Blink and you miss it. Can any of you identify with any of the following changes in your outlook and habits?
You see even though the old man is aging too (and hair loss is very cruel), I still find him vaguely attractive. In fact I now find older men quite attractive, something that would have created a small lump of bile in my mouth had I considered them in my twenties. When did rounded guts, hairy backs and nostrils and uncontrollable wind become interesting?
Even though I look my age, my mirror still tells me I look good, whereas in my twenties I was never happy with my appearance. I now understand the idea of being ‘happy in my own skin’. I’m not certain if this new found wisdom is based on age, capitulation or tiredness, but it’s liberating.
My ‘wrinkly-radar’ in terms of fashion has desensitized and I feel a magnetic pull towards clothes I wouldn’t have been seen dead in five years ago. I am drawn to ‘flats’ and low wedges, (ideally metallic and topped with some tacky floral decoration or bow on the top).
I get excited about choosing new glasses frames.
I have started waking early and going to bed later like my parents did (which I found mystifying at the time). I now want to wildly embrace each day and cram as much living into it as possible. Is this my body’s way of maximizing my time left?
I don’t WANT to drink as much alcohol as I used to because ‘I want to embrace each day and cram as much living into it as I can’. (This is still a work in progress).
I care more about the health of my frangipanis and my dog than my children.
My annual medical expenses cost more than my holidays.
Holiday choices are based on comfort rather than ‘experience’.
It’s a tough call choosing between a good book and sex.
I’m unmoved by One Direction.
Of course, what you should do is to transition graciously, like your kids want you to ……you turn into your parents.