When I was 16 years old, my mom was 42 years old, all my friends’ parents were in their 40s, and my high school teachers were presumably all in their 40s. They all seemed so past their prime, so middle-aged, so…old. When you’re 16, middle-aged is not a particularly enticing age.
What I know now that I didn’t know then is that your 40s are just another coming of age period in your life, a period that is full of wonderful self-discovery, but also plenty of odd milestones and quirks. For example:
1. You feel the need to call your parents daily and apologize for 1985 to 1990, because now you’re raising teenagers of your own.
2. You see a young mom with a very pregnant belly and a toddler and immediately think three things: better her than me, how did I ever do that, and very few things she’s worrying about actually matter.
3. Your last doctor’s appointment included topics like calcium intake and perimenopause.
4. You finally recognize that it’s high time you had some sort of skin care regimen.
5. Your college days seem like they happened both last week and a lifetime ago.
6. Your daydreams about decorating the perfect Pottery Barn Kids–type bedroom have turned into dreams about all the home renovations you’re going to dig into as soon as the last kid moves out.
7. A girl’s night out trumps plans with your husband every single time.
8. You know the cost of the handbag you carry really says nothing about you. Nothing.
9. Mom guilt is slowly but surely leaving the building. Cereal for dinner? Hell yes.
10. You’d give anything to be able to take your grandmother out to lunch just one more time.
11. You can’t remember what you had for dinner last night, but can sing from memory every line of Madonna’s “Borderline.”
12. You can kick some serous ass at Wheel of Fortune and can recall when the contestants used to “shop” for their prizes.
13. All the people you love in Lifetime and Hallmark movies you remember as stars of your favorite ’70s TV shows. Lindsay Wagner, you still got it babe!
14. When your teenagers ask you what kind of teen you were, you answer, “I was perfect. I never got in trouble ever,” while thinking to yourself, Lord Almighty, if they only knew.
15. You honestly think 1997 was just a few years ago.
16. You can’t believe that when you were seventeen your mom let you watch (over and over and over again!) a movie about a cool hooker who marries a millionaire, and the fact Julia Roberts was only twenty-two when she made that movie. Huh?
17. Your husband thinks all the women in Viagra and Cialis commercials are smokin’ hot, and you do too.
18. You’re convinced there really is a thing called “second puberty.” Why are my boobs growing now instead of in 1987?
19. Your new status symbol is three paid-off cars.
20. You have the “Oh crap, I’m pregnant!” nightmare at least twice a week, waking up in a sweat and screaming “Nooo!” and then for a millisecond thinking, what if?
21. You’re super pissed you can’t actually slam the phone down on your teens, but happy and relieved they can’t ever do it to you.
22. You want to tell your teens every single day that high school is not the best years of their life (not even close), and all that drama will soon be forgotten—very, very soon.
23. Going to bed at 8:15 p.m. and waking up at 4:30 a.m. seems perfectly reasonable, especially because two hours alone in a quiet and sleeping house is borderline orgasmic.
24. Your date nights always start at the movies, where you both comment on how expensive tickets and popcorn are, and then end up with a trip to the grocery store for toilet paper—always.
25. You are finally, confidently, and frequently using the word “No.” Also, and more importantly, you are comfortable using it as a complete sentence.
26. Every time you flip through the channels and Pretty in Pink or Some Kind of Wonderful is on, you stop immediately and watch until Keith and Watts make out, or Duckie lip syncs Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” in the record shop.
The idea of turning 50 used to scare the hell out of me. Now? Not so much. Because 50 is the new 30, right? And if I am having a reawakening of sorts in this decade, imagine how much better living my life will be in the next one. So bring it on (and all of its fabulous senior shopping discounts)!