When I was young and had no concept of my own mortality and thought that being over twenty-five was like SOOOO fucking old, I found it hard to believe that life could possibly begin at forty.
Well, I’m now approaching fifty and I’m thinking I might have been right all along.
Admittedly, there are some bonuses to getting older, but there is some shit that happens in middle-age that, frankly, you can never be prepared for.
Here are my survival tips to help you through:
1. The Regret Backpack
Sitting in traffic the other day, the old man looked at the car in front of him, let out a big sigh and said, ‘I suppose I’ll never have an Aston Martin now.’
No-one warns you that if you let it, a permanent ‘regret backpack’ containing all the things you wish you’d done by now, would try to break your back in middle age. There comes a point at this time of your life (and for me it happened around forty-five) when you suddenly realise with earth-shattering clarity that each day might be your last, so don’t waste them with regrets.
My Tip: Dump the regrets as fast as you dump the boring people in your life and remember, it’s never too late….
2. When Your Body Starts Falling Apart
You were prepared for the lines, the wrinkles and the sticky-out fugly veins all over your body, but no-one warned you about gnarly feet, bunions and lumps and bumps that suddenly appear around your joints so that your feet only fit into sensible footwear now.
Or that your vajayay would never really feel the same as it did before you plopped your second nine-pounder and spoilt your chances of having a satisfying sex life again.
My Tip: Learn some Kegel exercises and invest in some vaginal cones so that at least one area of your body remains youthful.
3. Living With Teenagers
You can never prepare yourself fully for teenagers. Teenagers look like adults, eat like adults, think they’re adults but don’t think like adults. They maintain the mental self-absorption qualities of toddlers. Little kids are physically exhausting, mentally taxing (and let’s be honest, quite annoying most of the time) but teenagers suck the life-blood out of you. You spend their childhood trying to teach them right from wrong and then suddenly, overnight, they know everything.
Teenagers treat the house like a hotel and monopolize everything, including the tv, bathrooms, food, every communal space and even your own personal stuff. Teenagers become really invasive right at the same time that you are beginning to crave some inner peace.
My Tip: Don’t make those parasitic critters too comfortable at home and they’ll eventually leave of their own volition.
4. Becoming an ‘Invisible’ woman
Despite what the media would have us believe, ‘becoming invisible’ doesn’t only only happen to women; men just don’t care as much.
Be honest, ‘Invisibility’ is really just a polite term for becoming physically older and less attractive (in the eyes of youth). Luckily, it happens to all of us and at the same time in our peer groups. The good news is that you are still attractive to middle-aged men, even though you might be looking at them and wishing that they are one of the twenty-something lifeguards from the local pool instead.
My Tip: You’re as old as you feel. It might take a bit more effort these days, but if you feel good about yourself, that confidence will take years off you.
5. Feeling as Irritable as Fuck (All the time)
So you get irritated by the slightest thing these days. If there’s a man in your life, use him, and make him your target. Part of that irritability is linked to all of the above but the hormones are having a last laugh at your expense too. Everything annoys you, you get bored easily and you have zero tolerance for people. MOST people.
My Tip: Whip your man’s ass every time you feel the need to offload that anger. Luckily, men are from Mars and it’ll go straight over their heads anyway and if you’re lucky they’ll retreat to the shed and give you some peace.
6. Putting on weight every time you look at food or alcohol
You can blame those fucking hormones for this one too, plus the sedentary lifestyle of being glued to your desk chair for work and Facebook as well as that stress-busting nightly glass of wine and bar of chocolate. These days you just have to think about a cream cake and you put on five kilos. And the real bitch is that once you put it on, for some biological reason, it’s impossible to get it off again.
My Tip: Something’s got to give, unfortunately, so replace dessert with wine. The great thing is that it can count as one of your five portions of fruit and veg for the day.
7. Not Fitting Into Clothes Anymore
Even if you don’t weigh much more on the scales than you did in your thirties, your body evolves into this weird shape that simply does not fit into standard clothing sizes anymore. You might be a size 12, but even a Large is too tight. Hemlines suddenly feel way too short and so the only clothing you feel good in these days are yoga and happy pants.
My Tip: The more expensive the label, the more generous they are on sizing – they know their market.
8. Becoming Intolerant to Alcohol
This is the biggest bummer of middle age because to cope with all of the above you really need a solid drinking habit. Even more irritating is that you can probably afford to splash out on the decent stuff these days, but suddenly your body goes into crazyville with a WHOA! CAN’T TOUCH THIS attitude when it comes to alcohol. These days you get blinding headaches from two glasses of wine and a hangover can last a week.
My Tip: Life’s a bitch sometimes, but there’s a reason women are renowned for being stronger than men and that’s because of our tenacity and resilience in the face of impending peril… Suck it up, girlfriends…with a straw if you have to.