Do you believe it’s possible to age overnight? I mean literally – gain about 15 years in an eight-hour span of time? I swear that’s what happened to me last night. I went to bed looking my normal middle-aged self – some wrinkles, gray roots shining through, saggy skin. I have pretty much accepted this evidence of years gone by (though I don’t embrace it). This morning I awoke, headed to the bathroom to ready myself for church, looked in the mirror, and there was a more elderly-looking woman staring back at me. It was darned near my mother.
While you might think I am exaggerating, even my husband, who is very careful with his words, noticed the transformation. I had these huge dark bags beneath my baby blues, and under my left eye, I had a red, puffy pouch. Oh. Crap. Perhaps once I put my contacts in, I would see it was just my imagination. Nope. I still had the almost-black bags of a woman much older who hadn’t slept in a week. The problem was I had slept well (I’ve had a long snowy weekend – of course I’ve slept!), I don’t have a cold, and I don’t have a sinus infection. I felt fine…until I looked in the mirror. Foundation – that’s what I needed. I began to smear and rub and add and smooth and…there wasn’t enough make-up in the world to cover those hideous dark bags. Is this it? Is this how I am going to look from now on? I can’t afford a plastic surgeon. What can I sell? A third job?
As I have wiggled my way into middle age, I have realized that there are many things no one bothered to tell me about when I was younger. We all expect the gray hair and wrinkles; we expect to lose some of our energy; and we even expect (or hope) to become somewhat wiser. There is, however, so much more to the aging process. There are things our older friends fail to tell us; perhaps they had to figure it out the hard way, and feel that we, too, should have to learn as we go. I disagree, so I am going to enlighten you.
1. You might have heard that it is more difficult to keep weight off once you hit 40. Well, let me tell you, it is super hard. I exercise at least five days a week, sometimes two or three times a day when I am teaching at the gym, and though I don’t eat the healthiest of foods, I don’t eat a lot. And yet I battle that scale every single day. My sister, who is 11 years older than I, says if she eats one normal-sized meal, she will gain a pound. My mother, who is 80 and still very conscientious of her weight, lives on very little because normal meals will cause weight gain. That fact does jive with the fact that I also like to bake more the older I get. Just because weight was never an issue in your twenties and thirties, don’t make the mistake of thinking your immune to the middle-age spread. It will find you!
2. Eyebrows. What young 30-something mom worries about her eyebrows? Sure, waxing or tweezing are part of life, but trimming and filling in? Did you know that in your 40s your eyebrows begin to do weird things? There will be some that grow long and need to be trimmed (often). And there are those that disappear leave patches of skin showing through. Really. Aren’t you glad I warned you?
3. Saggy skin. We expect wrinkles on our faces, and maybe even our chests. Did you know your leg skin wrinkles and sags no matter how toned your muscles are? Yup. That’s something to look forward to. When I wear shorts and do a plank, I try to avoid looking down at my legs because the skin is sagging in an attempt to rest on the floor. And should my belly be exposed for some reason (in the privacy of my own home), well, that’s just disgusting. It looks like chicken skin. Saggy, nasty chicken skin.
4. Despite all of the crazy things going on with aging skin, you can still get zits. I think that is just cruel. If we have to be tolerant of wrinkles, we should at least be free of zits – save those for the teenagers. So, now I have dry, oily, wrinkly, zitty, saggy, bags-under-my-eyes skin. That’s attractive.
5. About your bladder. Now, I am fortunate that I haven’t had leaky bladder problems, but I hear my Zumba ladies talking about having to be careful during jumpy songs. Even though I haven’t had issues, I had to have my non-issues checked out before my hysterectomy so if there were a problem, the doctors could fix everything at once. Do you want to know what that test consisted of? It was humiliating, to say the least. The lovely nurse stuck probes in two out of three places I don’t want probes to go, and then I had to jump and stretch and cough and push as if in labor….you get the point. But, hey, I passed the test. Ask me in a couple of years. Thankfully when a Depends commercial was on the other night, Addison told Gary and me she’d be happy to purchase them for us when the time comes. Thanks, kid.
6. While I was able to avoid doctors through my twenties and thirties, unless I was expecting a child or my allergies were in high gear, I find myself spending more time at doctors’ offices these days. Heck, I’ve had two surgeries in two years. And besides my hysterectomy and knee surgery, I have had a recurring staph infection in my eye, and numerous other inconveniences since reaching 40. In the late winter and spring of 2013, I had something wrong with me every other week – and I am not a hypochondriac!
Enough of the ugly. Now, what is good about aging? Lots. But that’s for another blog. I gave you younger people a lot to absorb. To plan for. To dread. You’re quite welcome for the warning. Enjoy your young supple skin, strong bladder, normal eyebrows, and energetic body. It can be gone – overnight. While you sleep, instead of the tooth fairy, your own personal middle-age fairy will be visiting. Prepare, my friends – take down the mirrors, purchase Ponds and anti-acne wash, load up on workout capris, purchase an eyebrow pencil and little scissors. It’s coming…