It’s like being not quite thirteen again. When I was still wearing a training bra and waiting (not too anxiously to be truthful) for my period to come calling for the first time and feeling decidedly benched in the whole womanhood game.
I have spent a great deal of my life being behind the curve or out of sync at least it seems. I wasn’t dating or marrying when everyone else was. I didn’t lose my virginity in a timely fashion. At my five year high school reunion when the engagement rings were being ooh’d and aah’d over and the baby pictures cooed at, I was sitting at the future spinsters table.
The only time, I think, I have been out ahead of any life trend was when I was widowed at the tender age of 42. Frankly, I could have waited for that one.
I never appreciated the plumbing with which I was born. I found it a figurative and literal pain. It frankly annoys me now that I am stuck with a function that is past its born on date and still nowhere near shut down. I can’t have babies and don’t appreciate having my sex life disrupted every three and a half weeks.
And it’s not just the social or physical aspects. There is a whole societal image of the “women of a certain age” that has to be dealt with.
How does one dress when one is too old for the latest fashions and too young for polyester?
Can I still wear my hair long without censure? And is it time to dye or go natural? And what about the stuff growing south of the border? Should it match? Or does that matter?
I have “senior moments”. Or I think that’s what they are. It can’t still be widow-brain, because the first husband is gone almost three years, or residual new mommy fog because the “baby” is six now, and for that matter the pouch at the middle can’t be her fault anymore either.
Approaching fifty now, I find myself yet again in between. Although a newlywed of just over a year, I am not a blushing bride. I was married for 6 years to a wonderful man before being widowed. I bring with me to my current marriage a lot of experience and a lot more wisdom than I had the first time.
Unlike younger recently marrieds, I am not trying to get pregnant. My husband and I have three daughters between us 26, 23 and 6 years old respectively. Expansion was discussed back in the early heated days of our relationship, but the idea was abandoned quickly. Middle-age has not wiped the memory of babies and the ensuing havoc they play from our memories and, practically speaking, I am just too old to do the pregnancy thing on purpose despite what People magazine would have me believe about women of a certain age and the new motherhood.
But it puts me in an awkward position. Being still new to the area where I now live, I have tried to make friends in the obvious places: parents of my daughter’s classmates, at the local gym, and through the writing groups I attend. But I have found that I don’t fit into any of the demographics of women whom I encounter.
I am not a young mom. My daughter is the only child I will have and so the locker room talk of pregnancy and managing multiple children while holding down a job or maintaining a sex life fall outside my range of interest or experience. And, frankly, many of the women there are not much older than my step-daughters.
The women my own age are all, or nearly, empty-nesters. Some even have grandchildren and those that don’t talk about wedding planning or grand-babies on the way. I suppose this could be me soon with two twenty-something step-daughters, but I would play a far different role than their own mother would have were she still alive.
The older women also talk about weddings and grandchildren (or their pet equivalents – but let’s not go there) and, of course, menopause.
I have tried to participate in conversations based on what I believe is my own firm footing on the roller coaster of hormonal ups, downs and twists that I am firmly in the grips of, but I have been informed that it is really nothing and I should “just wait”. The night sweats, ever morphing monthly cycle and other physical changes, the likes of which I haven’t experienced since pregnancy, apparently don’t count yet. Perimenopause is a training bra stand in.
A woman’s life cycle is discussed in terms of active phases, not the ramping up or winding down that naturally occurs. Nor is the fact that some of us don’t follow the typical drum beat really discussed or acknowledged unless some Hollywood movie star bucks one of the tradition mile markers. The fact that our hardware is even shoe-horned within acceptable parameters over the span of our lives astounds me. Are we not more than our phase of life? And when does one phase actually become the next? In retrospect?
In the circle of life, to quote Elton, I am well past maiden and not yet crone, but I am not really earth mother anymore either because my fecundity is doubtful. This is where I am, and it is decidedly nowhere, a place that the good Sisters of the Presentation did not talk about when they ushered us little girls into a private room to watch a filmstrip telling us all about the “miracle of life” without ever really telling us what was so miraculous about it in the first place.
One of the things no one warns you about is that puberty never really ends in a figurative sense. What we think is just a one time deal, striking us late in adolesence and ending somewhere in our nearly twenties, give or take, is really the framework for the rest of our lives. The emotional chaos and physical upheaval that transforms us body and soul will happen again and again as we journey along to life’s inevitable conclusion. We never really stop being tweeners because we are always going to be in between where we have been and where we are going. Life’s only constant is change.
This was an original 50 Something Moms post and was syndicated by MCT where it appeared on 11 newspaper websites.