Warning: First world problem detailed ahead.
Another dirty birthday is just on the horizon. Please note emphasis on dirty – I say it with gritted teeth and a fierce air of distaste. A couple more weeks to cling on to this age before I am thrust forward again, the official annual notification that you are getting older. I have always liked the thought of growing old gracefully. I fancied myself with long silky silver hair, a bright kaftan gently billowing around my slender older ladies figure, while laughing gaily as the silliness of youth. I think that if everyone subscribed to the thought of growing old without a fight then life would be simpler.
However, I need to take notice that the industry of ‘general pursuit in looking youthful’ is booming and I don’t want to be the only one growing old gracefully while all around me old people have faces as tight as a trampoline. It’s not that I am ready to talk ‘work’ but I catch myself often these days, peering into my reflection in the car window, the sun beating down on my back while I pull a face to smooth out my wrinkles. Then I am pulled back into reality by two little faces, strapped in to their car seats, peering back at me through the glass.
There is a lady that has been in the news recently as she has not smiled since her childhood in order to protect the delicate skin on her face and remain wrinkle free. She is 40 something and all the pictures I have seen of her at various milestone events in her life she indeed is not smiling. Now important to note is that she had kids. How can she not smile!? They are hilarious. And what kind of message is she sending these kids – don’t have expression? You may look smooth but you will be so boring no one will want to hang out with you. Babies and children learn so much from our unspoken communication – body language and facial expressions. What a shame to waste those precious childhood years raising your kids not smiling. Mine have me in stitches every day. And there is nothing like a big smile to warm your heart, reinforce love and to set the mood. A smile says to a child ‘I am happy to see you.’
I met a very calm woman once who also had two boys and ran a family day care from her home –a tiny two bedroom flat. She never, not once, raised her voice to her kids. It wasn’t in her philosophy. SHE HAD TWO BOYS. I could tell she wasn’t lying as I instantly felt very quiet and peaceful around her. I don’t recall her wrinkle situation but I am sure she will grow old calmly. I am trying to take a leaf out of this peaceful woman’s book, and I think of her often when I am yelling at my kids to stop yelling.
Another unpleasant thing to note about growing older is that I find myself marooned in a fashion limbo land. How did I get here? Left to wander in this uninspiring place of muted colour, neither young and trendy, or old and frumpy. Somewhere in-between. I know why I am here. I am the wrong side of 35 and I can longer get away with trendy cuts, see through cheap fabric and slogans. This cold reality slapped me in the face recently as fast as you can say ‘saggy’. I bought a bright little tank top from a disposable fashion store (cheap). It had two playful and carefully positioned toucans on the front. I enjoyed wearing it around for a couple of days, pushing the kids about. My husband came home, saw it and burst out laughing. I didn’t get the gag – toucans/ two cans. Classy. Can’t get away with cheap boob gags now. No, I cannot.
Looking ahead to my birthday in a couple of weeks and planning for it registers as almost nil compared to the blow a gasket excitement my 4 year old recently displayed in the lead up to his. We race and strive to get to that next birthday when we are little, always looking upwards at the biggest kids with envy and awe. Older kids represent knowledge, leadership and skills. Top of your game. I often hear little kids exaggerating their age – saying they are 10 when clearly they haven’t started school. Why do we stop that? As women, and generally speaking of course, we start to groan at the thought of another birthday, we don’t relish the thought of being another year older and in our society, less attractive. We see it in Hollywood where women reach mid-forties and then they quietly retreat to yoga classes and kale and surgery. They pop up at the award night but the big roles are over to the younger girls that don’t have life’s adventures etched on their faces yet.
So how will I be spending my birthday this year? My husband laughs when I tell him and he says it really is going to be a dirty birthday. I am having a massage and then going on my own to sit in the dark and watch Fifty Shades of Grey.