Can’t see the writing on the wall.

Can’t read the writing on anything much to be honest.  Especially labels on small containers.

So I was in the chemist perusing the face cream shelf, hoping to find that magic pot that costs €20 but does the work of three botox sessions. Failing, obviously, I asked the assistant what she would recommend, since despite squinting, I couldn’t read any of them. I told her my age, 46, smiling, hoping for a slightly startled reaction, and a “Oh, you don’t look it” giggle.  But instead, she sighed wearily, pointed to the heavy duty glass pots and said. “There, those are the creams for middle aged women.”

I looked over my shoulder to see who she was referring to, but there was only my reflection in the lipstick stand mirror. Fabulously furious 46 year old me!

My heart lurched in direct comparison to the rising price tag (how come ‘youth’ get tight skin and cheaper creams?)

Taking a jar and my horror out of the shop, I immediately googled ‘middle age’ only to discover that the damn woman was right. According to Wikepedia, the Oxford English Dictionary and Collins, I am middle aged.   How the hell did that happen?  Last time I looked, which was actually only that morning, I was still young(ish) and trendy(ish) and energetic(ish) me. Say the words ‘Middle Age’ though and a frightening array of images from my childhood sweep before my eyes of purple perms, elasticated waists and shapeless cardigans.

I might be plucking rogue hairs from my chin at a frenzied rate, and holding food labels out on a selfie stick so I can read them, but that is definitely NOT how I see myself.

It used to be that most women ‘of a certain age’ became invisible once their clear role as a Mammy diminished, and they were left to congregate together, knitting and complaining about their men (or other women who made the social faux pax of being mutton dressed as lamb).  But I look around me and that is not what I see now.

If I was Bridget Jones, this would  be my pre-journal summary count:

  1. Life/skin/energy/eyesight boosting nutrients: handful of spinach, half a mango and a kiwi (I can’t be arsed to calorie count, so replacing these with ‘how many green veg and yellow fruit can I cram into a NutriBullet per day’)
  2. Wine content. Obviously: 1 glass. So far.
  3. Rogue chin hairs to be plucked: 1 (and a squeezed spot)
  4. Hot flushes: haven’t a clue – am constantly in a sweaty state of panic that could be menopause, ozone-wrecked weather schizophrenia, or sweat from multi-tasking home, children, work and Facebook.)
  5. Chocolate: 4 small squares of my new addiction (Dark Milk, by Chocolate & love)

Now, I’m not normally a fan of labels, except the ones that show a rare shopping indulgence or indicate a high coco content. I’ve been lots of labels for lots of years – a teenager (a term, that if spoken by my mother, was accompanied by rolling eyes); a student (bank manager now rolling his eyes); career girl (lots of rollings – in hay, of cigs and rolling home); wife (rolling along); mother (rolling over). I didn’t particularly like being labelled any of these things although I thoroughly enjoyed each phase to a lesser or greater extent.   So it’s a little disconcerting to discover that I am yearning for a label to describe myself now, because it seems society has mislaid a whole sector of us. Losing one person is unfortunate. Losing a whole generation is downright negligent. By us, I mean women who find ourselves in the uncharted waters of being labelled in a middle age that does not reflect our lives.   Society hasn’t just mislaid us, it hasn’t actually realised we exist.   

I’m having a mid-life identity crisis. 

I know I’m young at heart but I’m also young at spirit. I’m mid-life and I really believe the best is still to come, rogue chin hairs and hot flushes notwithstanding.  I’m older yes, but let’s call that experienced. I’m a bit more wrinkled, yes, but let’s say that shows a lot of laughter.

So as I buy purple mascara instead of a purple rinse, I laugh in the face of comfortable shoes, sling on a pair of toIMG_5481tally impractical but totally gorgeous killer heels and step out into the unknown (partly because I can’t see a damn thing close up).

Just don’t call me middle aged. I’m only getting started…

Oh and just because I feel like cheering everyone up…. this is my new baby…..

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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1 Response to Can’t see the writing on the wall.

  1. Dude I am one year behind you and SO NOT MIDDLE-AGED. Partly because I am planning to live to 150, so…technically I’m still almost a child.


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