This post is part of my Mommy Mythbusting series. Today, I’m sharing some personal reality checks about being a woman in my 40s. Scary, I know! I won’t feel bad if you choose to skip this one.
I’ve written before about the fact that this blog is partially intended as a memoir of sorts for Zoe to look back on, hopefully fondly, and see how very loved she was. And to remember what a wacky but lovable character her mom was. As such, I feel it is my duty to speak the truth about getting older – and boy, have I been feeling some cold, hard truths lately.
Not so bad at first
For me, turning 40 was no big deal. In fact I hardly noticed – after all, I was a brand new mom with a tiny newborn in the throes of the biggest, deepest love I’d ever experienced. Then when I turned 41, I acknowledged the birthday but I was still in a whimsical place about it because I truly didn’t feel any older. I even wrote a silly little poem about it on Facebook:
So much fun.
Sounds so old,
Feels so young!
I blogged about turning 42, but I didn’t pay it much attention either. Let’s face it, I’ve been busy momming it up with a toddler and far more focused on her than on myself. Birthdays for both E and me are an afterthought these days – a far cry from the days when I used to insist on celebrating in full birthday style for up to a month!
Well, some of the dreaded “40+ changes” that I had been dreading finally surfaced around my 43rd birthday. It has been enough to put the fear of God into me and get me much more focused on my own health again. For one thing, my vision seems to be changing a bit and I’m having more trouble with seeing small things close-up. Heck, let’s face it, just small things in general. I went to the eye doctor and my prescription has changed a bit, but not dramatically. Let’s hope this isn’t the start of a slippery slope of decline.
In many ways, being in your 40s is kind of like being a pre-teen or teen again – you know strange stuff is going to start happening with your body, and you’re not sure exactly when or how it will happen. So this fits perfectly with me being a forever kid – I guess I’m in an endless loop. The period stuff has been extremely odd, though – I will get it normally each month for three months, then it will go away completely for four or five. My lovely little WomanLog app (best free lady app ever, by the way, for tracking periods, fertility times, etc.) literally just prompted me “Have you forgotten about your period?” I laughed out loud when I looked at my phone! But no, I haven’t forgotten my period – my period has forgotten me. And honestly, I’m cool with that.
The worst thing so far has been the age-related increase in my weight. I’ve always loved food, especially sweets, but I’ve also historically managed to keep weight gain in check through moderation and exercise. Since turning 43, that is no longer the case. In fact this entire year in general, even before my birthday, I’ve been gaining weight just by LOOKING at food. It’s terrible, it’s horrible and it’s not going to change. I’ve spent quite a bit of time this year in denial, a chunk of time being angry, and a whole lot of time whining about how it’s not fair – but all this time, the scale has been creeping up and up. It’s not pretty and, mark my words, it’s going to change. I may be an old(er) mom, but I am also a hella cool, tattooed, active and super fun mom. I will NOT be an unhealthy mom. This mama is getting her act together and making some serious, significant and forever lifestyle changes – starting now.
I’m not even worried so much about my body not looking or feeling the way it did when I was younger – heck, Zoe loves my body just the way it is. I’m soft, comfortable and extremely cuddly! It’s more that I can’t keep going up in sizes and buying new clothes, I don’t want to lose any mobility or flexibility or ability in general, and bottom line I want to be able to run, climb, play and go hard all day like my little Zoebelle. My Mommers, Zoe’s Gran, is a picture-perfect 70 year old – slim, healthy and vibrant, able to sit down on the floor in “criss-cross applesauce” style and then hop back up again. I plan to age as gracefully as my wonderful maternal role model. Hence, a fitness program and dramatic change in my eating habits are both mandatory. Right now.
I guess bottom line, I don’t feel old – I just feel “real.” Real in the sense that I’m where I should be, doing what I should be doing. And real in the sense that I feel very, very blessed and very, very loved. In the immortal words of Margery Williams in The Velveteen Rabbit:
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
How about you? How do you feel about getting older – have you had some of these same experiences, and do you know what comes next?! I’d love to hear in the comments below.