Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Mid-Life Lessons: Acting your age

You know how it is.

You're in your 'Fabulous Forties' (that Samantha from 'Sex and the City' has a LOT to answer for!), full of vim and vigour, comfortable in your own (slightly saggy) skin and as sure of yourself as you're ever likely to get...
...and then your offspring will trample all over your ego with a reality check.

They don't necessarily mean to, but they do it nonetheless.

That "you're middle-aged, woman!" wake-up call can come in a variety of forms - anything from a "Did they have electricity in the olden days, Mum?" to the sight of the rapidly sharpening features and sprouting whiskers on what was once your baby boy's oh-so-sweet and chubby face.

You try to take it in your stride - but the truth is it hurts as much as being whacked around the chops with a prize trout, fresh from the freezer.

It takes your breath away and squeezes a barely audible whimper between your thinning (and to date un-Botoxed) lips as you fight the urge not to burst into floods of hormonal tears.

No-one else may hear it, but it echoes loudly as it clatters around your psyche over and over and over again. "Admit defeat and start acting your age."

Now, this is where I have a bit of a problem.
At 46 and three-quarters, I can no longer claim to be in my mid-40s, so I suppose I should at least START to think about acting appropriately for an old dear hurtling headlong towards the Big 5-0, shouldn't I?

Thing is, I don't really know what exactly constitutes that 'appropriate behaviour'.

Should I burn my lived-in jeans and invest in a range of sensible trouser-suits in muted neutrals as prescribed by my "Colour Me Beautiful" consultant at Debenhams?

Do I have to choose between a sensible but severe bob, or a weekly set at the local salon?

Should I grimace like I've just sucked a lemon and shake my head sadly at loud music while longing for the soporific snooze of middle-of-the-road muzak as wallpaper for my ears?

Must I start looking askance and muttering under my breath about "The Youth of Today!" every time I see someone with a nose stud or a neck tattoo?

Do I have to (sob) surrender my beloved bare feet to the sweaty security of a pair of fluffy mule slippers?

Should I stop laughing at dirty jokes and start tutting at things that don't fit neatly into the little compartments I have arranged my mind into?

Do I have to hand in my preferred sci-fi and thriller reading and reach for the more suitable and escapist pages of the 21st century answer to Mills & Boon - or simply give up on books and start studying knitting patterns in "Woman's Own"?

(Maybe I should just do a Charlie Sheen and run screaming and whooping into the sunset, instead?)

OK, so maybe that's what it takes.
But if I do any of those things - with the possible exception of the last - I suspect I shall simply blink out of existence.
Mandi, as we know her, will cease to be.
I will be an ex-Mandi.

Throughout every stage of my life - from carefree childhood, through early adulthood, to responsible grown-up who-really-should-know-better-by-now - I have basically been the same. A little loud, a little quirky, tinged with a touch of 'bolshy', a little too exuberant for my own good at times, occasionally dancing to a totally different tune to everyone else. It's as if I've coloured myself in, in a hurry, without worrying too much about going over the lines, though the end result is reasonably pleasing (if you like that sort of thing) - in a kind of Jackson Pollockesque fashion.

So how, pray tell me, am I expected to change all that and suddenly 'act my age'?

It could be worse, I s'pose. I could throw myself into mid-life denial and try every trick in the book (and make a truckload of sacrifices my Inner Hedonist simply won't allow) to pull, cut, freeze, nip, paralyse, trim and sandblast evidence of the years away?

But I don't think so.
Sounds like WAY too much work for me - and, in its extreme, it smacks slightly of desperation.

So, you may ask, how do I plan to age gracefully?

Answer: I don't.

I'm planning on growing old thoroughly disgracefully.

I'm going to carry on wearing my scruffy old jeans (and not just inside the house).
I'm gonna keep my hair short, red and spiky (when the Gods of gel are on my side).
I'm going keep on reading books with rude words in them.

I'm gonna carry on singing VERY LOUDLY in the car, with the windows wound all the way down. Even when I have to stop at traffic lights.

I'm going keep on arguing loudly when someone offends my sense of right and wrong.

I may even continue to screech like a demented she-gorilla on speed at rock concerts - especially when it's the fruit of my own loins is up there on stage looking all moody and giving it his all on his white guitar.

I may even give him a big sweaty kiss when he comes off stage to show how proud I am of him.

After all, if there's an up-side to the march of the years, it's the fact that I've now earned the right to embarrass my teenager in public, haven't I?


  1. If mule slippers are the sign then Im totally doomed............but in my defence, they ARE Donkey mule slippers so I guess thats ok?? As Im 2 months older than you I imagine Im gonna be sliding down the shoot of decay before you. I'll meet you at the bottom in a big muddy puddle. I'll be the one doing the "cha cha slide" dance and sucking jelly through my teeth!

    Fran xxx

  2. At the ripe Old age of 43.4, I say to hell with decorum. I just was chastised for appearing like a desperate middle aged woman for flirting and being MYSELF. Which is funny and sassy. Just because my breasts arent as perky as they once were, doesn't mean I'm any less happy I have cleavage and the attitude to match. I am still going to whoop at rock stars , check out men discreetly, tell the man I love he's damn sexy and every so often have one cider too many and laugh too loudly.

    We earned the right to be this comfortable in our skins, this happy in our bones and this free in our hearts and minds.

    Mandi- as always a sasserific post. And Yay to Fran and the chute of decay. Make room for me and save some jelly. ~ Alys

  3. I find as I get older I get more and more like myself. Know what I mean? I suppose I mean i am happy to be me and not too worried what people think about me. I am happy to grow older in some ways and quite content, but in other ways I fight against it.