When I was in my 20s, it was all about the physical. I had to look perfect all of the time. The hair, the makeup, the heels, the waist … I was on a mission to be on point. I wanted to make money and have nice things, and I worried constantly about what other people thought of me.
As I grew into my 30s and became a wife and mother, it was more about what my family thought of me, but I was still conscious of the way that I looked. I got ready for work and dressed fashionably, but mostly in all black so that I didn’t have to ever match anything. I colored my hair every shade under the sun and started to come into my own. I was a young mom, with a cool job, and fun style. I wanted people to like me. I cared what people thought when I was in public. I was concerned that pictures I posted on social media looked perfect. I was all in, all the time.
And then my 40s came along, and well, I just no longer give a fuck what anyone thinks.
In my 40s, I have learned that I still like to wear makeup and fix my hair, but I am not wearing dressy clothes. I’ll do a 12-step makeup routine and put on a tank top and gym shorts to run to Target. No, I am not working out in those clothes; they are comfortable. Yes, I contoured my cheeks before I put on this sports bra. No, I don’t have any plans of hitting the gym later. Yes, my earrings are big enough to be Christmas ornaments. No, I don’t care that my shoes have custom orthotics in them and are hideously ugly — my feet hurt. Yes, I have chipped nail polish that doesn’t fit the aesthetic. No, I don’t give a shit what you think of me. At all. Ever.
I make no excuses for my wardrobe and I also don’t care about how you view my quick decisions. Case in point, I wanted Starbucks one morning after I dropped my kids off at school. I had on a nightgown, slippers and a relatively long sweater that could have passed as a robe. The drive-thru line was way too long. So, I went into the store to place my order. I got some strange looks. There is a hospital directly across the street; perhaps they thought I had gone AWOL. But guess what? I didn’t give one shit. I wanted my grande skinny vanilla latte just as much as the lady in the business suit and heels wanted her mochaccino. The door just said you had to have on a mask, it said nothing about real clothes. I’m 42, I’ve paid my dues, and I do what I want.
Sometimes my kids don’t like what I cook for dinner. You know what? That’s fine. I wanted it, your dad likes it, and so do some siblings. I have spent 13 years cooking meals to satisfy three people all the way up to our current six. There have been plenty of nights that I have eaten something that I didn’t want because of my children. I adore them, but I also really like chicken breasts breaded in Dot’s Pretzels (make this tonight, delicious) with a side of peas and some couscous, so I am having it. If you are displeased with the evening’s menu, please help yourself to the self-service station. Just clean up your own dishes.
And yeah, about that “I can eat what I want” thing — leave my Diet Coke alone. That is what I drink. I like it. I don’t do water. I am not interested in that shitty La Croix. I want the chemical-laden cola of my dreams. If I want to drink 44-0uncers until my bladder explodes, I am allowed to do that. I am not 12! If I have to scrounge up quarters from my floorboards before I hit the McDonald’s drive thru for a fresh one, I will. I want it. I am drinking it all day long. Leave me alone. When I die, you will have to pry the can from my cold, dead hands. But at least I will have passed doing what I love!
I write a lot of essays. I use bad language. I give my opinion. I share intimate details of my life. If you don’t want to read it, fine. Don’t. You’re not hurting my feelings. If you see me as someone you might know on Facebook and your first inclination is, “God, I can’t stand her,” don’t friend me. If you are tired of my posts, hit the unfriend button. I am not going to stop posting funny videos of my mother trying on clothes over her clothes in the middle of TJ Maxx. That’s what we do. I like it. I am allowed to like it. You don’t have to. It’s really fine. Just leave me alone.
I am a stay-at-home mom, not a housekeeper. If you want to sit in a display home, they’re building a nice subdivision down the street; take a walk through there. Don’t come to my house looking for perfection. It’s not going to happen. I stopped caring about that a long time ago. I have four kids. Kids are messy. They eat a lot and produce many dishes. There is always a load of laundry to do. My dog has toys all over the house. I don’t make beds. You don’t like it? Too fucking bad.
I am not working on being your friend in my 40s. As I said, I have a gaggle of children, and that is my priority. We have practices and dentist appointments and haircuts. I am always busy — I don’t have time to work to be your friend. I have many acquaintances and a few very close friends. I may not text them for months, but when I do, it picks up right where we left off. That is what I want. I don’t need to be guilted into weekly Orange Theory meet ups with coffee afterward. Let me live my life and when I can fit you in, I will. I know you are busy too. Let’s just leave it at that.
My 40s are about me. When my 50s roll around, it’s likely that I could become a grandmother. That’s another chapter where things will change tremendously. I just want to revel in my 40s and live the way that I want to. I am wearing my red lips everywhere that I go and I will enjoy my ’90s rap blaring from my minivan anytime that I want.
Speaking of that van, I think I’m going to order a set of eyelashes for the high beams. It’s just the extra little touch it needs. My children may never ride with me again, but at least I’ll be able to find her easily at Target when I have forgotten where I parked. Headed to Amazon right now. Because I can, and I have zero fucks left.