Don't Call It a Midlife Crisis, I've Been Here for Years

Mom Moment 33

I was heading into the grocery store the other day while two youngish women were walking out. They were, oh, I don't know -- maybe in their early 20s: pretty, long shiny hair, short denim cutoffs. As I crossed the street, I glanced in the windshield of a car that was waiting for people to cross, and I saw the intent gaze of the man inside. His eyes tracked those girls until they were out of the way, then he started to pull forward -- until he finally noticed me. That's when he stopped, looked bored, and fiddled with something on his dashboard until I reached the sidewalk.

Later, the college guy bagging groceries referred to me as ma'am. And not in that I'm-required-to-call-you-this-even-though-you-seem-too-young way, either.

I know these are dumb things to focus on or even notice. I'm 38 years old, after all. I have two children. I've been a ma'am for a while now, and it's been years since I was the one who stopped traffic. But oh god, I miss it. I miss being young and hot and stare-worthy, I miss being a miss.

I'm feeling older these days. Things are catching up with me, or more accurately, things are sliding down on me. My butt sags. My arms flap. The flesh on my face is settling into unpretty lines that make me look like I've spent my entire life frowning: an angry-looking furrow between my eyebrows, a dissatisfied droop to my cheeks. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and place two careful index fingers on either cheekbone, and I lift -- just a tiny, tiny bit.

(It's amazing the difference that makes. It's enough to make a person wonder just how expensive plastic surgery is.)

Recently I saw a current Facebook photo of a boy I knew in high school and I must have stared at it for 10 minutes, trying to figure out how it happened. When, exactly, did that beanpole kid turn into a pudgy, balding middle-aged man? Was it the same time the flame-haired black-eyeliner'd Doc Marten'd girl I used to be turned into a frumpy mom heading into Safeway to buy more goddamned Snackimals?

It's ridiculous to rage against the aging machine, and more importantly, it's useless. Nothing can stop the inexorable forward march of time, as every mother knows. Maybe that, in fact, is what some of this is all about -- I can't stop my own free-fall into decrepitude, I can't stop my children from shooting up like weeds and taking step after step away from me and into their own lives.

It used to be that my life was my own, I had the ability to be as selfish and irresponsible as I wanted. I miss that too, sometimes.

But maybe most of all I miss being noticed, even by creepy guys in cars. I hate the feeling that every year I fade a little more -- I become less relevant, less visible. It doesn't matter if it isn't true, or that it's a perception I can choose to dismiss. It's there. It's depressing.

It's also funny, because when I was younger, I was insecure as hell, uncomfortable in my own skin, and overly conscious of whether or not people were looking at me. Huh, that sure sounds familiar.

And of course, it won't be long until I'll have that exact realization about the person I am right now. Thirty-eight, I'll say. Jesus, you had everything then.

Do you ever experience aging-related freakouts?


Image via Linda Sharps

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abrow... abrown33179

I feel you.  I'm 43 and my back and neck pain reminds me about it every day.

bobek bobek

I 'm on that one with you, but don't worry it will only get worse.

cmjaz cmjaz

If that's a picture of you above, I can't imagine that guys don't stare at you still.

For myself , keep telling myself that I'll go on a diet, go to the gym and lose these extra 50 lbs. But I'm too damn tired to start. Something must be done though. I'm not used to being this heavy and I can feel every extra lb.

kalisah kalisah

I'll be 46 next month. THAT'S PRACTICALLY 50. And yes, I also stare at pictures of high school classmates (nineteen eighty fucking four) and wonder what the hell happened.

zandh... zandhmom2

Yea, for me it was turning 40 (now 44) all at once I noticed my butt dropped, my boobs dropped, my arms sag.  It sucks!!! I just tell myself that getting old is better than the alternative.  I can say that I am more comfortable with myself now than I was in my 20's or 30's.  I do wish I would of appreciated my "better" body when it was better.  Feeling fat at 20 with 10 extra pounds is nothing compared to feeling fat in your 40's after having kids :))

Angie Hayes

Hell, I am only 26 and I was in a store with my two kids and a girl walked by and the guys were practically drooling over her, and all the while, I don't think they even noticed me... was it my two kids, am I not pretty anymore, am I frumpy?!?!?! I don't know, but I do have kids and she didn't, so I guess that puts me in a different category.

Tracys2 Tracys2

I get that way with career stuff, with life passing me by, other issues, (last year when I turned 40 and had nobody to invite to a party) but I've never really thought too much about how I look time-wise. Probably part of it is I've never noticed or cared if anyone was looking at me.

nonmember avatar Mae

Thank you for this article; it's comforting to know other women feel the same ways I do, especially about being "selfish and irresponsible". It would be awesome, if only for one day, I could be selfish and irresponsible again! But no, I do the thinking for 4 other humans, and they NEVER take a day off!!! :)

nonmember avatar kaerae

When I ws about 35 I had a tire blow out on the highway and couldn't help but notice it took abot 5 times longer for someone to pull over to help than it used to when I was in my 20s and notorious for running out of gas...Still, there is some peace in not being looked at like a piece of meat anymore. I still wear my hair long and am a runner and still thin, so sometimes I'll get hollers from the back, then when they drive past and see that I'm actually old enough to be their mother, it's like "uh...sorry...ma'am" the look on their face is priceless and makes me chuckle!

Anna Potts

Angie Hayes i have a kid and i get stared at all the time, more so now that i have one. but im 21, but i am the girl who wears cut offs and heels out. i also get dirty looks from other women even if im out with my dd and bf.

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