The First Flush of Middle Age

Well, I turned 37 yesterday. And I’d really love to be the kind of person who says age doesn’t matter, and it’s all a state of mind, and life is great, and I’m not going to worry about vain things like my face starting to sag (which it is) and my hair getting gray (which it isn’t — not yet). And I’d love to think, of the little varicose vein on the back of my upper thigh, that it is a proud badge of the fact that I pushed out two beautiful babies.

But the truth is, I’m not that self-actualized and enlightened. And this birthday in particular, I’ve been very much aware that I am edging toward middle age.

Until now, young adulthood (do your early thirties still count as young adulthood?) has seemed like this endless phase. I’ve been looking at more or less the same face in the mirror since I was in my early twenties. And I’ve felt generally like I qualify as a “young woman.”

But now…well. I feel like that phase is definitely coming to a close. Instead of feeling like my life still spreads out in front of me, endless and full of possibility, I feel like — well, here I am. In the big and sometimes disorienting middle.

But I should look on the upside, right? I’m in a phase of great career satisfaction — so far managing to make a living as a freelance copywriter and now feeling able to legitimately add “author” to my resume. I am loving this phase of Elsa and Clio’s life — four really is an adorable age — and enjoying motherhood more than ever before. My marriage is great, with no sign of mid-life crisis shake-ups or impulsive sports car purchases on the horizon. And anyway, I shouldn’t buy into our culture’s obsession with youth. I should be like a French woman! Aging gracefully and sexily!

And I think I can still pass for 35. Once a few months ago, I even got carded on my way in to a club, and the bouncer looked incredulously at my birth date and said, “no way.” But he may have just been flirting. But that’s good, right? He still saw fit to flirt? I mean, it’s not like he was working for tips or anything. I’m not a cougar yet, dammit!

And yes, I know, I know. Those of you who are a few years older than me are thinking “you think you feel old, I’m 3_ / 4_ / 5_  And no doubt, ten years from now I’ll look back on 37 as positively youthful.

At least it’s a prime number. So I can say I’m in the prime of my life, right?

Anyway, I’m going to try to re-align my thinking and instead embrace this phase of my life, and all the things I love about it. I’m going to enjoy my confidence, happiness, self-assuredness, and physical and mental health, all of which are all better than ever. I’m going to enjoy the fact that I am healthy, and that there is — I hope — lots of good stuff ahead. Even if that doesn’t include the state of my jawline.

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