“Age ain't nothing but a number.”
“You're only as old as you feel.”
“Women are like fine wine…they only improve with age.”
I could probably come up with more cliché quotes about aging, but I think you get the idea.
I am about to be 49, which is not generally known to be a milestone birthday. My birthday is in four days…the Internet has just reminded me of this.
My birthday really isn’t a big deal to me. My husband takes me someplace nice for dinner and I get my way about stuff that I might usually not get away with because I remind people that it's the anniversary of my arrival on planet Earth.
So, this is my birthday week. The day has snuck up on me as most things do. I have lists and deadlines and due-dates and sticky notes and calendar reminders to remind me to do all the things. I usually forget to do half of the things I'm supposed to be doing, so I guess almost kind of forgetting about my birthday isn't too much of a surprise.
I remember turning 21 and the thrill that came with being able to legally buy alcohol. I’d been sneaking into bars with a fake I.D. for quite some time before that magic birthday (sorry mom.)
I remember turning 25 and having someone remind me that I was a quarter of a century old. I found this mildly depressing. Looking back, I find this majorly funny.
I remember the day I turned 30. My coworkers used an entire pad of Post-It notes and wrote “30” on them with a black sharpie and stashed them all over my desk. Seriously…I think I found one in a reference book a year later. I thought I was old and that the best years were behind me. Snort.
I remember the day I turned 40. Again, coworkers decorated my desk but they kicked it up a notch and bought real decorations. I worked at that desk for another year and then moved on. I ran into the guy who’d taken my job and he told me he was still finding little pieces of black “Over the Hill” confetti two years later…I swear that party confetti stuff multiplies like Gremlins, right? Forty didn't bother me…some brilliant person coined the phrase “40 is the new 30” and some other brilliant person decided it was cool to be a cougar.
So, this is 49. I never thought about what 49 would look like until just now.
This sums it up:
I rock out to head-banging 80’s metal music…in my minivan. If smug looking millennials or handsome men witness my songfestapalooza while I’m stopped at a traffic light, it does not embarrass me. This is 49.
I have two kindergartners. Most of the kindergarten moms are in their twenties…a few look like they look like they might be in their thirties. I am by far the oldest…I always make it a point to quickly introduce myself as “so-and-so’s mother” to head off any possibility of “are you the grandma?” My kids keep me young (young at heart, anyway) and are responsible for the extra gray that appears out of nowhere in the back of my head…where I’m slow to notice it. This is 49.
I care less what other people think of what I say, do, how I live my life and manage my relationships. That doesn’t mean I still don’t get my feelings hurt or my feathers ruffled. When that happens, I usually manage to hold my tears until I’m alone behind the wheel of my minivan…and then I cry. The van is a good place to rock out…and to cry. This is 49.
Things like selfie sticks, quinoa, and mashups confuse me. I try to act like I’m hip but I always hesitate when someone describes something as dope, sick or off-the-chain. I find myself smiling and nodding a lot. This is 49.
Sometimes I feel so young inside, so vulnerable, bumbling and unsure of myself. Sometimes, looking in the mirror is a jolt. I see fine lines (I’m probably not fooling anyone about ‘fine’ lines, ahem) and the beginning of jowls. I think I plucked a gray eyebrow hair the other day…it was over quickly and I told myself it was blonde. This is 49.
I’m still a strong runner…my body isn’t perfect, but let’s get real…it wasn’t in my twenties or thirties, either. I was recently running on a trail when two twenty-somethings with perky ponytails, workout wear that I can only assume was the Lulu lemon stuff everyone is so twitterpated about and tight asses whizzed by me. I’m sure the one who made the comment that they needed to “pass this slow one” wasn’t meant for my ears, but I still heard it. That didn’t make me feel particularly bad, but when I passed their huffing and puffing little butts a mile later with my slow and steady gait…well, that made me feel particularly good. This is 49.
Some days, I feel like my body is betraying me. Gray hairs that spring out the day after I spent a craptillion dollars on color and highlights. Hemorrhoids. Wrinkles. Acne. Acne inside a particularly deep wrinkle…is there even a name for that? Wrinkles on my earlobes? What the hell is that even about? The two pokey coarse chin hairs that no one can really see but that I can feel? Oh, and if you notice those chin hairs, be nice and pretend you don't. This is 49.
I never gave 49 much thought. Most people consider the big 5-0 to be the mother of all birthdays. As I sit and think about life, motherhood, heavy metal and chin hair on the edge of what will be the last “fortysomething” birthday I will have, I can describe it this way:
I don’t feel like a grownup. I see a mature woman in the mirror. People treat me like an adult. I’m expected to act like an adult and make reasonable decisions…and most of the time I do, but a piece of that insecure, awkward teenager I used to be still lives inside me.
I don’t know when I will feel like I’m really a grownup…maybe never. And that’s okay. I’m not sure how I will feel about my fifties. I have 368 days left in my forties to live. I’ll think about 50 later…and yes, I know it will probably get here sooner than I’d like.
This is 49. If I’d have stopped when I was younger to think about what 49 would look like and feel like, I don’t know if I’d have pictured this life. And that’s okay because life has consistently brought me surprises. Some good…some bad…mostly good. Here’s to a great year…and 50? I see you up there at the top of that hill. Bring it on.
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