This is 49 – An unfiltered look at aging

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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:

This is 49 - An Unfiltered Look About Aging|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals|

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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THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. I MAY EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

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29 Comments

  1. I keep wondering when I’ll feel like a grownup. It sounds like I may never feel like one 😉
    I was surprisingly excited to turn 30. So far I’m enjoying my 30s even more than my 20s. And while this is a bit off-topic, I thought it was interesting that most of your fellow kindergarten moms are in their 20s. Where I live most are in their 30s (and later 30s….I think I’ll be 37 when Eve starts).
    Anyway, happy almost birthday to my fellow late-September birthdayite. I really enjoyed your spin on it, and look forward to seeing what this new year will bring you!

    1. I think a great deal of it is regional. I’ve had a lot of East coasters tell me I’d be entirely normal in their circles! Happy birthday to YOU too!

  2. I’m heading towards my 61st birthday and there are days when I still feel like I’m not really a grown up. What I HAVE noticed is that the older I get, the less I care about what anyone thinks of me, of what I have (or do not have) or what I do, or any aspect of my life. I do, however, care what people think about my new grandson (and only grandchild)–and that had better be that he is just gosh-darn cute. Just kidding, of course. I’ve honestly found aging to be liberating. I really enjoy your blog, even though my children are grown.

    1. Thank you, Janice! I am glad you read my blog and like it! And you are right…there is something liberating about getting older.

  3. I cried the morning of my 25th birthday. I was convinced my life was over. Right now I can’t even imagine making it to 30. Even though most days I feel old, I don’t know when I will feel grown up. There are moments here and there, like when I’m out on the driveway talking to the neighbors in my pajamas, that make me feel like an old lady, but the moments are fleeting. The only thing that works for me is to take it day by day. Anyway, Happy Almost-Birthday. 🙂

  4. “Some days, I feel like my body is betraying me.” ah I so relate. I’m exactly 3 years behind you (Sept 27 is 46) and I relate to EVERYTHING in this post! I’m more focused right now on turning 55 though. That’s the year my husband and I will be eligible to join the AARP, and our kids will only be in 7th or 8th grade. I’ll be **60** when they graduate from high school.

    And I know for sure I’m not a grown up. I’m awfully glad my husband is.

    p.s. AC/DC’s Back in Black is one of my all-time favorite songs and my kids have to listen to it at deafening levels when it comes on the radio. They’ll be the better for it, I’m sure!

  5. I don’t feel like a grown up either, and have no idea what I want to be. But I guess now you can cherish this birthday and really embrace it! And tell your husband to do something big for you this year, so you can ignore 50! Beautiful piece Jill.

  6. I always thought 30 was big, then 40, now I think 50! If we still feel young, that means life is treating us overall pretty well. So that is something to be grateful for.

  7. Kudos to you for feeling confident in your age! I had a very short pity-party for myself when I turned 30 last year, but then I realized I finally felt like an adult – a respectable, confident, hard-working adult. I don’t even fret about my age anymore. I may feel differently when I am 40 and my daughter turns 20 a couple months later though – LOL.

  8. Happy Birthday!
    Thank you for being so honest, it’s so nice to hear-yes, I can still hear-although some days I’m not so sure.
    My kids get sad and upset because time moves so quickly-I can’t imagine what they’ll think when they’re in their 40s.
    Enjoy the next year…and I believe the new phrase is 50 is the new 40!

  9. i love love this post… and how real you’re being! so many of us are thinking what you wrote! even tho i’m only 29 (ha)!

  10. Awesome, awesome, awesome post! You exude confidence and wisdom. I wish I could be as reflective about my years as you. I’m younger than you, but boy, do I feel OLD!

    Keep rocking, my friend (in your minivan)!

  11. I stumbled upon your blog via another blog. I’m 49 too (August 19). You nailed 49 for sure. I’ll be back to keep up with your last year as a 40 something. It will help me process.

  12. I think the only tough one for me was my 60th but it didn’t last long. At 65 I published my memoir and at 67 I started a whole new career in radio and public speaking. I can only wonder what my 70s will bring but I know I will be even busier than I am now. At 49 you’re still a kid but….. as you said — it is only a number.

    1. I heard a woman speak at BlogHer that was just about to have her 70th birthday. She’d just started her blog and had come to BlogHer on a whim. She was delightful and inspiring…and so are you!

  13. Hey!!!! great great post… most needed today!!! I am 45 going on 46 on December, with my youngest being two! So… I can truly relate to every single word that you said…. specially when I introduce myself to all the twenty something moms in my todd’s class! You are rocking it… hopefully I am too!

  14. I just turned 30, and this was empowering to read. Especially your description of 30—I was unsure for so long how I would feel about not being “young” and in my 20s anymore, but I realized my best years are still ahead. Thanks for reaffirming that 🙂 You’re awesome, and you’re rockin’ 49!

  15. This is my birthday week. One week from today I will turn 50 and I do not feel grown up! I loved your article and laughed out loud at “acne in a wrinkle”. It is a real thing, and now I will refer to it as “wacne” each time a zit grows on my face. I too feel like a teenager inside sometimes. I don’t know if 50 is the new forty, but I don’t want to be 40. I am looking forward to seeing what the next decade will bring!

  16. Thanks for this post! I’m turning 49 this week and feeling ambivalent about it, so googled “man turning 49”, and this post (in its HuffPost incarnation) came up. A few sentences in, I realized it was about a woman turning 49, not a man, but I still can relate to so much of what you wrote. I’m definitely not a grownup. I have no idea when I’ll become one. Despite having a semi-boring but reliable career that I fell into, I still wonder what I’ll do when I grow up. I also have small children – very boisterous and wonderful twins that keep me young (and exhausted!) I’m mentally preparing myself for 50, but am trying to make some changes so my 50’s will be the decade where I finally follow my dreams.

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