I feel an obligation to always be unabashedly honest with you. Now, keeping that in mind, I’m going to share some tidbits I wish someone told me 10 years ago, because I came upon these years completely unprepared for the journey. I need a life jacket, an ice pack and several prescriptions. And so, too, will you. This is what I tell my youngish co-workers who are still safely enmeshed in their 30s: Just. Wait. Child. Just wait.
What to expect in middle age
1. Well, really, the first glaring and hideous development of middle age is that, seemingly overnight, my weight shifted. I went from being a short girl with regular bones and average weight stuffed into my frame to a short girl with heavier bones and extraneous weight stuffed into my frame. And, it ain’t moving. I run, Pilates and eat healthy (lie) and still, I have extra belly and knee fat, each with its own zip codes. The biggest problem with not having any breasts? A clearer view of my tri-belly.
2. My Pilates instructor, Darlene, just informed me that once we approach middle age, our hips splay. Hips! Splay! What? So it wasn’t enough to pass two watermelons and pretty good sized cantaloupe from my nether regions, now my hips are seeing permanent splayage? She insists that Pilates can alleviate the effects of this gift, but I’m thinking it may be easier to just have my hips zip-tied shut.
3. Leakage. The commercials advertising, let’s call them what they are, diapers, feature young, bouncy, happy women. That’s not me. If I pull on a Depends, you can bet your incontinence I’m a miserable, sour and decidedly un-bouncy menopauser. I’m no demographic expert, but the same way I believe Old Navy should place their size “short” jeans on the lowest shelf, I think the people at Depends should consider hiring someone in her 50s with a five o’clock shadow as their spokes-diaper-model.
4. Hair. Above my upper lip. I cannot tell you how many times I thought I was plucking errant stubble, only to realize my Tweezermans were tugging on vertical wrinkles, instead. What’s worse? A mustache or lip wrinkles? I can’t decide. And, I’m pretty sure I’ll have permanent scars from last night’s angry tweezer-gate.
5. My vision and hearing are shot. I inexplicably think I need to see someone in order to hear them, and vice versa, and so, as a result, I hear nothing correctly. Every time someone yells: “Maria!” I think they’re yelling: “Diarrhea!” And I answer loudly: “How did you know?!” Yes, it’s all intermingled in a web of AARP.
6. I can’t eat the way I used to. This may be a silver lining. Maybe I’ll live longer without Hot Tamales or salt & vinegar chips coursing through my digestive track on the daily. Although my husband hasn’t modified his eating habits in the least from his childhood culinary debauchery, but he really doesn’t care as much as I do what he looks like in a bathing suit. Or ever.
7. Apparently I can no longer shop at American Eagle! My friends, Anne and Jen, insist there’s an expiration date on these clothes, and for me, it was 1989. I hate them. I can’t wait for their mustaches to grow in.
Just as we cannot avoid volcanoes erupting or nose hair becoming long enough to braid, we cannot avoid the fallout of middle age. So, I suppose we just have to board this train of inevitability and chug along. But, for the love of God, don’t forget your diaper. It’s a very long trip.
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at email@example.com.