Ten years ago when I turned 40, there was a catchphrase doing the rounds: ‘40 is The New 30’. It must have been dreamt up by an ad-man, who had not just weaned his third child, with a 2 year old and a 4 year old at foot. I did not feel like the hedonistic party girl that I was at 30 when I turned 40, I just felt knackered.
The people in charge must have realized, you cannot suddenly wipe ten years of aging from the human body, so no one is trying to tell me: 50 is The New 40.
Fifty is plain fifty.
I’ve watched friends freak out over this f-word. Almost take to their beds with an attack of the vapours at the mention of the word. Fifty. One clever friend has even coined the phrase, 40/10.
I’m sticking with Fifty. Fifty fifty fifty.
Truth be told, I haven’t been that bothered about turning 50. Let’s face it; the alternative’s not great. Instantly forgetting what the children have just told me and plucking half inch, albeit blond hairs, from my nasolabial-folds (laugh lines) doesn’t worry me too much. I have my health. My family. My friends.
It’s not having to buy face-cream, for the last denoted age bracket that gets me, it’s the fact that I’m now IN that age bracket. I probably only have 15-20 good years left to get the job done. I have plans. Plans that require my fully functioning faculties.
Walking along the shores of Lake Wakatipu on Sunday with one of my besties, I had a light bulb moment. Well, it was more of a lightning strike.
I’d pictured all my girlfriends and I in the future. Our children would be at university, we’d be empty-nesters together. We’d be jolly, childless and carefree, relaxed in our skins, resigned with our craggy bits. Less critical. Less vain. Less ambitious. Content.
I pictured us, in back country huts in Fiordland. Drinking bladder wine after a knee-aching 54 kilometre/three day walk. We’d be uniformly dressed in polar fleece and Icebreaker leggings with Katmandu easy dry shorts over the top. (Actually, Michelle F would be in Nom-D pantaloons and Caroline would be legging-less due to her hot-leg problem. And Sal would be at homing finishing a novel).
However, we’d be playing dare, truth or command, eating soggy almonds. Swapping hilarious tales we’d already told. Skinny dippy on sand-fly infested beaches. We’d be giggling like school girls till our stomachs hurt, us runaway carefree mums. At least twice a year.
‘But it won’t be like that,’ said Michelle T. ‘We’ll never all be at the same stage.’
I was so wrapped up imagining futuristic freeze dried tramper’s meals and good times; I hadn’t thought it through properly.
Because it won’t. We’ll always be slightly out of kilter. Most of us had our children in our mid to late thirties/early forties. As well as missing out on, Tramping for Old Bats, we’re likely to be old grandparents.
I did the math(s); if my children have their first child at the age I had them, I'll be 69, 73, and 77, respectively. We had our twenties unlike our mothers. But I’m not sure now, who’s better off.
Soul searching and bucket list making aside, a post about turning FIFTY wouldn’t be complete without some helpful tips, so I did a little research and found:
11 Mistakes Women Make In Middle Age
I've added my own response under the sub headings: Feel free to add yours.
‘Not realizing You need to change’
**Done. Dusted. I’m ahead. See last week’s post. I wear smart clothes to town. I AM my Nana.
‘Not spending enough on your clothes’
**Not guilty. I’m buying quality made garments to last me to the END. See above.
‘Comparing yourself to you in your 20s’
**Why exhaust yourself telling your kids you were hot back then?
**I love exercise. Sitting is working. Say no more.
‘Not getting enough sleep’
**Okay guilty. I haven’t been sleeping through. It’s my darn cat bringing offerings at 3am, even if he is keeping the rodent population down, it’s making me look worse than usual in the morning.
‘Ignoring your teeth’
**Look, TBH I’ve thought of having orthodontic work to rein in my wandering pegs. Then, I envisaged the pain and looking like an old person with braces. Dental hygienist annually.
‘Overdoing anti-aging efforts’
**What like Goldie Hawn? I’m not at the I-need-a-facelift stage of my life yet. But I’d do anything to stave off marionette lines (Nana had them). Then I found Facercise – it obviously works, check out this smooth lady.
Thinking there are hair "rules"
**‘Mum, when are you getting your hair done?’ asked daughter 13, this am. ‘It’s looking really purple, and grey.’ (Nana again). ‘This afternoon,’ I replied.’ ‘Get something modern and sexy,’ said the H. No pressure.
To me there are no rules to joining Club 50, I’ll wear red lipstick even when I look like Robert Smith from the Cure. And a bikini if I want to. To me getting old is not a drag. It’s time running out that is.
So when you hit the magic number, gather your girlfriends and get walking, there are plenty of mountain passes to climb, just don't forget your tweezers.