Watching my teenage daughter and her friends as they navigate the world of changing bodies, fluctuating hormones, short tempers and self-esteem crises, I am suddenly met with an emotional reaction heretofore relegated to her age group:
“HEY! HELLLOOO! I’m in the room here! What about me? I’m going through the same thing here! Where’s my sympathy?”
And it’s true. While I’m sure the powers that be did not necessarily plan on mothers leaving the period years just as their daughters are starting them, it is a fact nevertheless, at least for some of us. As we approach 50—OK, fine, as we approach 53—we begin navigating an entirely new plane of changing bodies, fluctuating hormones, short tempers and self-esteem crises. And sometimes it can be just as chaotic as 14. Just because I’m not passing notes in science doesn’t mean it ain’t so.
The good news is much of this anxiety, for both teens and us, can be mitigated by sharing our experiences with good friends. Besides serving as a sounding board, friends can validate feelings and give rational feedback that can go a long way toward making us feel OK. And since I’m a little older than most of my friends, and have gone through some of these experiences already, I’ve decided to let them know what may lie ahead, and maybe they won’t feel so alone when they get there.
For example, while I love playing volleyball with the other moms, I’m reasonably certain that in another few years, I won’t be the only one packing Depends alongside the sneakers in my bag. Same goes for running, kickboxing and jumping on a trampoline. And sneezing. And sometimes simply standing still.
Also, you may grow a beard. Don’t freak out; for the competitive among us, it actually can make for an interesting No-Shave November. If that’s not your thing, though, there are laser treatments and little eyebrow shavers that will also work on your chin.
Also, don’t worry if your eyebrows start inching their way up your forehead. They’re not making a break for it. It’s just age, and happening to all of those women in the “Fabulous Over Fifty” pages of People magazine. Again, two words: eyebrow shaver.
And speaking of making a break for it, some women experience thinning hair as they age. I’m neck and neck (forehead and forehead?) with my brothers in terms of receding hairline, which is one competition I would not mind losing. This from the woman who heaved a Scrabble board as a child because my vocabulary-challenged brother beat me. Let’s just say I’m trying for a bingo with R-O-G-A-I-N-E.
Then one day you may invest in progressive lenses because you’re done choosing between reading and seeing. You will start taking fiber supplements because . . . you need to. You may start using anti-aging serums to manage the wrinkle situation, and you will truly, for the first time in your life, see the benefit of a sun hat. It doesn’t undo the college years spent on the dorm roof with a double-album covered in foil held up to a baby-oil-slathered face, but it’s certainly a start.
Throw menopause into the mix and your guess is as good as mine about what’s causing what. All I know is that the hot flashes sweat off the anti-aging serum. And I recently realized that I spent the first 40 years of my life hating my hair color and the last 10 trying to match it exactly. Words and names are suddenly and permanently stuck on the tip of my tongue, and I need Post-it notes to remember a thought from the bathroom down to the kitchen. Yes, aging is as complicated for us as puberty is for our daughters; I hope, by continuing to share our stories, we can all navigate them with grace and dignity.
“For the umpteenth time, if your uniform is at the bottom of your hamper behind your closed door, assume it’s not going to get washed! I don’t actually walk into people’s bedrooms looking for things to do! And for the love of God, would someone let the dog in? Seriously!