I like to describe myself as “middle-aged,” even though I doubt I’ll live another 54.5 years. What else could I call it? “Just past middle-aged, but not quite elderly?” “JPMABNQE,” for short. No one ever talks about this in-between stage of life; not really. I haven’t heard women talk about some of the things that come with it. Of course, we’ve all debated hormone replacement therapy, and which surgeon is best to treat various diagnoses common to our age group. And, we accept reading glasses as a necessary, often fashionable, accessory, but I haven’t heard much discussion about the vagaries of this particular time of life. So, let’s discuss, shall we?
Does any other JPMABNQE-er have problems shopping for clothes? I mean, really. When did I lose the ability to tuck anything in? Or even wear a belt? Where did my waist go? Hello Mom Jeans…and pants, and shorts; they must be high and stretchy enough to handle that dreaded, stubborn muffin top. And, I don’t understand layering. Last weekend, inspired by the first breath of cooler weather, I went shopping for some new fall clothes. I was browsing in one of my favorite department stores, admiring the latest trends in jeans and leather jackets, when a friendly, young salesperson approached me and said excitedly, “We have some great Eileen Fisher on sale; and a new shipment of her things are towards the front.” Eileen Fisher? I found myself taken aback a bit. While Eileen’s clothes are pretty and made of quality materials, she’s all about long tops that flow and hang loosely. Did she really think I needed that? Hmmmm. I headed to the dressing room with an armful of sweaters long enough to wear as dresses, and a couple of pairs of stretchy pants. After trying everything on, and looking at that stranger in the mirror, I cried, “These clothes just aren’t me,” and quickly exited the store. I know I can reduce that muffin top with more intense exercise, but I recently got off track when my 27-year-old trainer literally got in my face. I was struggling through push-ups when he kneeled down on the ground, looked me in the eyes and asked, accusingly, “Did you have wine with dinner again last night?” Excuse me, but I exercise so that I can have wine with dinner. I’m still looking for another trainer.
At this stage of life, we are no longer “soccer moms,” and can finally trade in our SUVs that seat ten and have the storage capacity of a cargo plane, for sporty little sedans that are fun to drive and easy to park at the grocery store. Am I the only one who notices how low to the ground these cars are, and, who looks for handles above the door for help easing up and out? Does anyone else make sounds that you heard your mother make in her later years? For instance, the other day I went out early to get the newspaper and noticed a mom pushing her son in a stroller. I waved cheerily, then bent over for the paper, and heard involuntary sounds that I hadn’t made before, “Uhhhh, ewwww, whoo.” The young mother looked at me and gave a sympathetic smile. I was stiff, okay? Hadn’t stretched yet. After car rides of longer than an hour, do you find that you walk slowly at first, trying to warm up stiff hips? Just for a minute or five?
And what about increased crying proclivity? Do you ever cry during commercials? There’s one on television now showing a mother talking on the phone to her daughter who’s away at college, and the daughter is thanking her for sending a care package. “We’ll see you soon,” says Mom. I tear up every time. Watching movies, I often get teary at the opening credits as soon as the music starts.
Do you sometimes feel like the oldest person in the room? San Antonio is getting some hip, hot new places with ultra-industrial, barely finished out interiors, and plates to share, all of which appears to be highly attractive to the young people in town. First of all, I’d rather have my own plate of food, placed just in front of me and to the lower left of my wine glass, thank you very much. And, secondly, that urban chic interior sure does increase the noise level. Have you been to an outdoor concert lately? Last year, I accompanied my daughters and husband to Austin City Limits. I was astonished to find people climbing over my folding chair, while I was sitting in it. I’d carefully placed it close enough to the stage for the perfect view, yet not too close as to risk blowing out my eardrums. The youngsters ignored me, and stood up in front of me the whole time blocking my view entirely. “It’s a music fest, lady,” explained a young man after he heard me complain to my husband about the lack of civility. “Lady? Did he call me lady?” I picked up my chair and headed directly over to another stage where Neil Young was performing. Finally! Now I was with my people…and what a depressing sight that was. Surely these guys couldn’t have been in college in the late 70’s?
I could go on, but think I’ll stop now. Rather than accept these insults of middle-age (or so), I’ve decided to fight them by making some changes. I’m going to find exercise classes which include a long period of stretching led by trainers who are no longer in their twenties. I’m going to engage a personal stylist at some chic clothing store who can show me how to cover up while looking stylish, and I’m not ruling out Eileen Fisher. And, I just might have to shop for a car that’s a wee bit higher off the ground. Oh well; at least I’m not installing a ramp outside the front door and safety bars in the bathroom. Not yet, anyway.