Being in one’s 40s is like taking shelter in a tent, during a raging thunderstorm. It’s great, compared to the alternative.
All kidding aside, most of us would gladly go back a decade or two—if we could hold on to the wisdom we have gained along the way—but there is a lot of good about the fifth decade of life, too.
Here is a countdown of 10 F-words (tee hee) that provide a global view of what it’s like for women in those middle years. Some are advantages. Others are disadvantages. All are part of being 40 or older.
By now, those who have not given up have started a rigorous exercise regime, possibly along with a fad diet. Some are disciplined; some are sporadic; but anyone who has not yet thrown in the towel is trying to ward off Menopausal Mid—the spare tire around one’s middle that is pumped up by the action of opening the refrigerator door. There’s some sort of hidden hydraulic system there, or something. Many women are also trying to develop their triceps, in order to avoid having their arms look like full clotheslines every time they wave to someone.
This is definitely a source of concern. The kids are approaching post-secondary education, or they are already there, and Mom and Dad are still healthy enough to spend any inheritance that may have existed on travel or a boat. Why not? The plan is to move in with you when one or both of them can’t run a household anymore. What’s that you say? You’re worried about your own retirement? “Don’t be so selfish!” say the kids. “Don’t be so selfish!” say the parents.
This is when they are most needed, even though life has you too exhausted to ever see them. Women in their 40s, however, are the queens of multitasking. Although there may not be time for friendships as they were defined in earlier decades, women still have friends. They have work friends, gym friends, kids’ activities friends and dog-walking friends. Slip in a conversation in which one or more of the friends are venting or seeking advice and voilà…the fortysomething woman has just triple-tasked!
The kids have been the center of the universe for so long now that it’s become a habit. Empty nest is an unfortunate reality just around the bend, but, as many don’t realize, an oh-so-temporary one. They will be back. They will bring partners and maybe even children. There will be many clan gatherings to come, with most of the onus to make it happen falling on you-know-who. Enjoy the calm before the next storm and do the things that were harder to do when the children were around. That brings us to…
Dr. Oz swears that this is very important. Somehow I get the feeling that his wife reached middle age and, magically, it became crucial to one’s health. Either that or he’s getting paid by some secret men’s club to push the idea. Next, they’ll have Dr. Phil insisting that there is a biological reason why men are incapable of cleaning up after themselves.
Not only are we too tired most of the time, but we just don’t want to. It’s work; our hormones are changing; we can’t turn off our brains enough to relax; or we’re just feeling really pissed off (see No. 2).
5. Fiber and Flatulence
These go together like two ass cheeks. We have got to keep that colon in good working order. Colonoscopies: That’s a fun word. Time to give up the white flour and start eating stuff you’ve never heard of before. Most of it will look like sand or tiny rocks and pebbles, and taste like it too. Yum!
Past my prime? I’ll give you past my prime! Since there is no longer any need to impress—not that there ever was—fortysomethings can just decide to let go of any fears. That’s right, just decide. There is no rulebook saying that we can’t just be honest more often and say what’s on our minds. If the Kardashians can have their own show for acting like sleazy, spoiled brats, I can give up tolerating irritating people and all their crap. No waiting until my 80s for this woman! The no-holding-back honesty starts now.
3. Flashes and Forgetfulness
We’re talking an increase of 5 degrees, at random. Waking up shivering, in a pool of sweat, is one of those treats not experienced since the week after giving birth. They’re back. Sometimes it’s feeling cold and not being able to warm up. Really, it’s just the inability to regulate body temperature anymore. The added bonus of starting to be more forgetful seems to arrive within months of the flashes. The attention wanders and forgets where it lived. I used to have a mind like a steel trap. Now, it’s more like an unsinkable, steel ship. Like that one…what was the name of it again? Oh yeah, the Titanic.
2. Flipping Out
For those of us already in the grips of perimenopause or menopause itself, the rage is real. It’s overwhelming. It’s worse than the worst PMS ever. It’s irrational but almost uncontrollable. Emotions run so close to the surface that they can almost be seen, like a goat moving through the digestive tract of a boa constrictor. What can you do, though? A snake’s got to eat.
This is a cheat. What I really mean is confidence. The fearlessness, along with the wisdom gained along the way, have provided the fortysomething woman with more confidence than she has ever had in her life. Confidence is still the most attractive quality anyone can possess. Through deductive reasoning, then, we are, in our 40s, the most attractive we have ever been in our entire lives.
Stay fit, forget the fear, and enjoy the fun of being freaking fabulous!