I hate my wrinkles. They make me look really old, especially the little vertical lines around my mouth. How did those even get there? I’m not and never was a chain smoker, and although I’m a tad bitter (I said a tad), I certainly don’t walk around with pursed lips – yet. I completely understand the forehead lines and crow’s feet, but those little lip ones are a mystery. I must sleep with a scrunched up face.
There is nothing worse than wrinkles, except maybe the tools women employ to rid themselves of wrinkles. The tools themselves are fine – in moderation – but excessive dependence on lip fillers and Botox leads to that creepy shiny face effect. Yes, you got rid of the lines, but now you look like an overinflated mylar balloon.
What is it with this area of the body? In a perfect world when all cylinders are firing and we’re watching our diet and exercising, the scale tells us that there should be no evidence of excess fat pockets. Tell that to the muffin tops because they’re not budging. They’re too busy bulging. Over our waistbands. The biggest problem is that no one ever checks their rear view before leaving the house, so we think that baby doll t-shirt is adorable (our stomach is finally flat!). Not so fast because we are in fact three-dimensional. You either grew breasts on the sides of your hips or you have some spot reduction work to do. That baby doll t-shirt is straining against your impressive hand grips and you don’t even know it. You’re deceived because from the front view muffin tops make your waist look smaller. You look sort of hour-glass-y – so you (extra) confidently stroll here and there, and all the while it looks like you swallowed an intact Jell-o roll.
The alternative to muffin tops is Mom Jeans. Mom Jeans fasten above the belly button, thus enclosing the muffin tops in the jeans themselves. The muffin tops then relocate, officially becoming part of your butt and sometimes even squishing over towards the front (thus the term “front butt”). Mom Jeans are a significant fashion turning point. They tell me that you’ve raised the white flag and given in to your muffin tops. Shame. You can lessen the blow somewhat by making sure to increase the length of your shirts and being mindful of your footwear. The death knell of fashion is the Mom Jeans + short t-shirt + tennis shoe. I should not be able to see your belt loops.
I lose my phone 6-8 times a day. It could be in my left hand and I still wouldn’t be able to find it. I always forget where I’m parked at the grocery store, even if I only ran in for one thing. It’s so bad that sometimes I can’t even remember which door I walked through (by the produce or the Starbucks counter)? I have to go back and forensically recreate the situation, which involves searching every recess of my mind for a trigger. What was I doing when I parked the car? Do I remember if I pulled in to the left or the right? What song was playing on the radio?
I’m on to myself now, so in order to combat the effects of forgetfulness I’ll often employ memory-boosting tactics such as a mnemonic device. They obviously work because I’m 42 and I still know the order of the planets (My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles) and all kinds of clever pop culture acronyms that have morphed into words in their own right (LOL, MILF). There is nothing quite like the sight of a mouth-wrinkly, jiggly-hipped mama muttering a parking spot poem on the way into the grocery store (“I pulled into the right, I walked into the left…I pulled into the right, I walked into the left”).
My poor husband. He never knows who he’s coming home to – is it the attentive, engaging woman he married or her evil ranting twin? Since when am I so hypersensitive to the process of breathing (well, mouth breathing is annoying!)? The fact is, it’s hormonal. No, really. That’s what all my friends say.
If it’s not hormonal, then it’s definitely environmental. Life is busy and there are so many distractions tugging at us daily. We have to wear a lot of hats on any given day, and that’s stressful. Of course we’re a tad cranky (I said a tad) at the end of the day. Add perimenopause and what did you expect? Carol Brady? That MILF I mentioned earlier? Elvis has left the building, people, and he left a 40-something neurotic for you.
When-I-Was-A-Kid-Story-Alert: I remember going to visit my Grandma and Grandpa when I was a kid. My grandpa always let me plop down in his lap for a snuggle, and he always gave me a 50-cent coin. It was my favorite part of the visit. My least favorite part? You could hear a pin drop in that house. The sound of my grandma’s Norwegian Cuckoo clock ticking was deafening against all that silence (as was the clink of ice in her Rusty Nail, but that’s a story for another post). I always wondered how they could stand it – don’t they want to turn the TV on or maybe just play a record (if you’re under 30, forget it – I’m not telling you what a record is). For the background noise? In fact, my grandma and grandpa liked the quiet – they loved the quiet. Their whole lives up to that point consisted of nothing but noise. They raised a bunch of kids, both worked, and dealt with the cacophony of life for 25 years. They deserved a little peace and quiet.
I couldn’t relate then. I can totally relate now. Nothing amps my anxiety more than prolonged chaos. With a house full of kids and all of the ensuing activity, we have more than our fair share of chaos. I’m good for the seven or so more years we have left until our youngest graduates (6 years, 9 months, 2 weeks, 1 day, 3 hours and 2 minutes), but after that? I want it quiet.
Why are we so tired? I am exhausted from waking up in the morning and getting out of bed. The thought of laundry, dishes, showering, driving…it’s all too much. It is never good when we get an attack of the ‘yawns’ before 10am.
It is not uncommon for my husband and I to compare tired levels several times daily. We text “I am so tired” more than “I love you”. It’s not that we love each other less, it’s more that we marvel at how our energy levels are dropping faster than the value of my IRA (thank you Mr. Obama…loving all the hope and change).
I do think that if you’re doing the parenting thing semi-right, you should be in a continuous state of near-burnout (see? it’s not just a clever Twitter handle!). It’s like the world’s longest endurance run. If you can’t detect an undercurrent of steady guilt and worry inside yourself, you are probably screwing up your kids.
Becoming Our Parents
This has to be the worst, most disturbing attribute of my new older self. I am suddenly using phrases previously only used by my mom and my friends’ moms. These idioms – such as “what is with this music these kids listen to? It’s not music – it’s just noise!” – will instantly trigger the age detector, so if we had any doubt that we were transitioning, this should seal the deal.
I find myself complaining about “what these kids are wearing today” in a mildly disgusted tone of voice (as if our feathered bangs, shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans and comb-in-the-back-pocket nonsense was somehow less disturbing). I then go on to justify these statements with a hearty helping of denial (no, seriously, it’s much worse today then when I was a kid), which soothes the raw nerve of righteousness (ahem…old age) that’s protruding from my psyche.
The worst possible thing someone like me can do in this stage of life? Watch the AMA’s (or Grammy’s or MTV Music Awards) with our kids. Accept this: we cannot understand Lady Gaga…ever. She is not of our generation and it doesn’t make sense to us that she hatched herself from an egg on the red carpet recently. Our kids think she’s iconic.
We will never see the appeal of Justin(e) Bieber (he’s a she and this whole Bieber thing is a practical joke, right?). We will not be able to authentically play the ‘Team Edward or Team Jacob’ game with our tween daughters, even if we see the movies. We don’t get it anymore. And when Jon Bon Jovi gets up to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award? Prepare yourself. Your kids will say, “Who is Jon Bon Jovi?” while you simultaneously stare at the TV, horrified, as he transitions into legend status (legend is another word for old). Weren’t you just playing their Greatest Hits album on your Walkman?