Today, I am 36. But before anyone out there begins to roll their eyes thinking, “Please, 36 is not even close to being old!” This isn’t going to be a diatribe about how I feel soooo ancient as I sit here crying over a bowl of Fiber One and clutching a bottle of Centrum Silver.
As milestones go, I get it….it’s not exactly monumental….although just a few short years ago, I wasn’t sure I would live to see the duration of my 30’s….literally….but it does feel a little surreal to say, I’m 36. I’ve officially begun the march to 40, which makes me feel….all of a sudden….like a real grown-up.
I know that I probably should have felt like a real grown up awhile ago, but until now, there had remained a part of me that still felt like a newbie among adults. In my career, I often felt as though I was nipping at the heels of my elder’s….taking my cue’s from them, learning how to work and navigate office politics from them….and now I can feel the nips of the 20-something Millennials who are looking to learn from me.
I find myself seriously engaged in topics like mammograms, my family history of early on-set heart disease and the status of my colon.
I think about my retirement accounts and our kids college funds….daily….and I worry if we’re saving enough to keep up with the rising costs of everything. I know all about minor vs. major medical coverage, deductibles, max out of pocket limits and target pricing for certain services.
I was texting with a friend the other day and I said, You know things have changed when you’re out and about….at like Chuck E Cheese….and you check out a really good looking….dad.
These days, I’ve forgotten the ingredients in Jungle Juice, but I can make a great banana bread from scratch using organic, free range, non-gmo, ethically raised ingredients with cauliflower puree hidden in the mix. When served, I secretly high-five myself in congratulations….with the enthusiasm of someone who has just won some kind of world championship….for being so sneaky as my kids inhale an entire loaf in one sitting, never knowing they just took in their daily Vitamin C allowance via an important cruciferous vegetable that would have left them gagging and in tears had I put it on their plates in it’s original form.
I use words like cruciferous….and I make puree’s….a lot of them….that I store in perfectly proportioned measurements….in BPA free containers.
And….I have physically changed too. This is not to say I woke up this morning and thought, “Damn, when did all this happen?” I’ve been aware of my naturally and normally changing body for the last several years. Little by little, the elasticity and speedy metabolism I took for granted in my 20’s….along with my diet of Ramen Noodles, Spaghettio’s and pretty much high fructose corn syrup whatever….are a thing of the past.
These days, my body looks less like a carefully constructed, new work of art and more like a road map of all the living I’ve done.
Here’s what I see today.
My Hair: I’m not entirely sure what color my natural shade is anymore. When I was born, I had sunny blonde hair that gradually changed to dirty blonde and then eventually an auburn color as I grew-up. In my early 20’s, I started dying my hair using whatever could be purchased cheapest at a CVS….and for no discernible reason. I never changed the color drastically, but instead insisted that a regular dye job, just brightened it up a bit.
It was in my early 30’s though, that I discovered my first silvery, grey hair and then regular dye jobs became a part of my basic, preventative maintenance schedule.
However, I always wait for a touchup until I can see the small patch of silvery streaks along my part. I inherited them from my great-grandmother who had a full head of shiny, snow white hair with natural streaks of silver. She was sweet and gentle, reserved and classy. She taught me to read and she made me cheesecake from scratch and strawberry jam from the strawberries she grew in her garden. She played endless games of Old Maid and Slap Jack with me, always in for another hand, despite the arthritis that had crippled and bent most of her fingers years before I was even born. So when I see those random grey hairs peek through, they momentarily fill me with a happy warmth and beautiful memories.
And then….I cover those bad boys up ASAP….because while it might have flown back in the day when your only color options were blue, Betty White blonde or shoe polish black, there are dozens of colors available these days and I’m just not as brave as she was.
My Face: Wow….I should have invested in a little more SPF 30 and a less baby oil in the 80’s and 90’s.
While I probably should have been more diligent about avoiding excessive sun exposure in my teens and 20’s, when I look at all the freckles sprinkled across my face, I’m reminded of the long summer days my younger brothers and I spent at the public pool. Most days, I would pack up whatever portable food I could find and trudge my little brothers to the pool, our subsidized seasonal pool passes, (because according to my mother, if the people up of the street….of a specific ethnic background….could get free pool passes when they practically weren’t even citizens, then so could we), sewn haphazzardly onto our swim suits.
I would spread out an old sheet on the pool deck and watch as my brothers swam and splashed and laughed and made new friends and for as long as we could stay, just be regular little boys with regular little boy problems.
I also remember my college years when my small circle of friends and I would head to the beach with our Discman’s and a book of CD’s to tan ourselves into a golden brown shade that perfectly accented our “going out” clothes….a pair of black capri pants, a shiny metallic halter top and a pair of chunky black sandals that weighed about as much as a Geo Tracker.
It’s true that the older I get though, the less my freckles look like freckles and more like brown spots….ahem, age spots….and it’s also true that tiny lines have begun to settle in at the corners of my eyes, across my forehead and at the corners of my mouth, betraying the evidence that I have both worried and laughed throughout my life.
Of course, these days I do slather on the sun screen, covering every visible bit of skin peaking through my sensible mom suit, because I am totally aware of the fact that I am not getting any younger. I know all about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and it would be really embarrassing to be mistaken for a large, leather tote bag someday….also, I’ve already had cancer, so, Melanoma isn’t really high up on my list of things I want to experience.
My “fresh faced” look requires approximately 20 minutes of careful application of organic cosmetics and lighting now largely plays a role in how well I’ve pulled it off.
But, I’m not really interested in options that entirely banish the signs of aging. The freckles remind me of the too few times in my adolescence when life was carefree and uncomplicated. The worry and laugh lines are a symbol of my life’s experiences and lessons and the outward proof of the pride I feel for the life and family I’m creating.
My emotions have played out on the surface for too many years for resting bitch face to help me now anyway, so I plan to continue to smile my wide, squinty eyed smile and laugh and worry….unhindered by botox or fillers….and just hope I manage to age gracefully….and slower than my husband.
My Chest: No one in the history of my life has ever described me as buxom. As in, “So, I met this really great girl last night with an even greater rack.” My boobs have never gotten me so much as a free drink, let alone entry into anything exclusive. As boobs go, they are totally unemployable, but I’ve never really had a problem with any of this.
True, there was a time when I wished for just a bit more cleavage, but those were also the days when I thought Romy and Michelle had a wardrobe to die for.
Now I’ve come to appreciate the fact that the bigger they are, the harder they fall and while gravity may be taking it’s toll on other parts of my body, my boobs are in the exact same place they’ve always been. It’s the little things, really.
My Abs: What abs? I haven’t seen them since some time in 2011 and I’m pretty sure they aren’t coming back. I’m not overweight….the number on the scale tends to fluctuate by about five to ten pounds depending on my stress levels and the season….and I’ve been fortunate in my life to never really struggle with significant weight issues, but I currently lack the tone and definition I once took for granted. These days, I’m a bit, uh….squishy.
Since my body was essentially a bio hazard at the time I gave birth to my son, I was unable to test out the theory that breast-feeding would turn me into, (insert the name of any actress who claims her six pack abs….four weeks post baby….are the result of breast-feeding exclusively).
Given that my son was born 3.5 yeas ago, it’s a flimsy excuse, but I’m sticking to it. I’ve been busy. My exercise routine largely consists of doing whatever my kids want to do. Sometimes it’s playing hide and go seek, sometimes it’s baseball or football in the backyard….we hike and bike ride, swim and sometimes we just sit around and veg in front of the TV with snacks piled high on the coffee table.
I’m not sedentary….I go on a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail twice a year and I’m an avid golfer….but the last time I was into any kind of regular fitness routine, I’m pretty sure Tae Bo was still the fad and it’s so outdated spellcheck didn’t even recognize it.
When I have “me” time, the last thing I want to do is head to the gym. I want to read, or watch Netflix on my iPad in the bathtub….and quite frankly, a diet that consists of puke colored juices and doesn’t include Milk Dud’s, just doesn’t appeal to me. I can never say no to a trip to the Dairy Bar for an ice cream cone, or movie theatre popcorn on the too few date nights my husband and I manage to sneak out for an evening on our own.
I find that hauling loads of laundry up and down the stairs every week, grocery shopping, pushing the vacuum in between visits from Molly Maid and my various DIY projects are just enough to maintain the status quo and keep the ole’ circulatory system happy.
So, as I get older and my metabolism shifts from a sprint to a brisk walk, the best commitment I think I can reasonably make is to continue to do my best to enjoy all the good stuff in moderation and to find my exercise in the activities I love. Even if means I never again boast a six pack or an ass that won’t quit.
Overall, I’m happy with me. Sure, I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies in the morning and I have occasional joint and muscle aches in areas I didn’t realize I had joints and muscles….but my body has done some pretty awesome things to date. It’s grown another human….survived cancer….hiked hundreds of miles….healed broken bones….it’s been sun kissed and wind burned and it’s pretty much rocked this life so far.
So, in honor of my birthday, I decided it wasn’t me that needed a little sprucing up, but my blog. I started this site almost a year ago and over the course of the last couple of days, I’ve made some slight changes to the content and lay-out, because I like to think it’s growing up too.
If you’re here for the first time, you’ll never know the difference….but if you’ve been here before, I’d love to know your thoughts on the changes. I kind of feel like the adjustments I made are similar to a face that has only had enough Botox to fill-in a few lines, but not enough to make it too obvious. What do you think?
Thank you all for reading!