You see other people get older, but most of us don’t realize it’s actually happening to us until it smacks us straight in the face. Sure, your number gets a little higher and your bones ache a little more, but the idea that everyone else sees us as older kind of sneaks up on you.
At least it did for me. I’m still relatively young, and I have never felt that I looked or acted any older than the younger people around me. I see 20-somethings, and I’m genuinely happy I am no longer in a place in my life where I am going out late at night or worried about dating, but otherwise I feel like I could still hang if I wanted to. But the tell-tale signs of my age are there: My knees hurt when I work out sometimes. I have a couple kids and a minivan. I have a house and a dog and a husband. I drink wine instead of hard liquor. For all intents and purposes, I’m exactly where I am supposed to be as a woman in my 30’s.
On the other hand, some things make me feel like I still haven’t fully grown up. I still don’t really understand how the stock market works. I still pick out stuff from the juniors section at Target (albeit, a size or two larger than I used to wear but I still like the styles). I stay fit. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But I look in the mirror and I see it- I see my postpartum weight that is actually just my weight now. I see the wrinkles starting to form. I found one or two grey hairs in the past year. My age is showing but I just didn’t think everyone else could see it.
The first time my age actually hit me was when I went to the doctor to have my thyroid checked (you think that would have been a good indication but no, I was still in denial). The doctor walked in and I thought, “Oh my gosh, you look like you’re 12.” It’s the first time I wanted to actually ask a stranger how old they were because of the sheer disbelief that I was so far removed from their age that it was truly visible.
It’s All Fun And Games Until Someone Tried To Steal My Husband
The second time I really felt like my age was when a girl ten years younger than me tried to sleep with my husband. I never worried about other women with my husband for a few reasons:
1. I trust him.
2. I am confident in myself.
3. I never felt like I was competing with the “younger girls.” But when an attractive, 23-year old waitress tried to lure him away it hit me- I’m really not as young as I used to be.
Although my husband was completely honest with me from the beginning, I still took the news really hard. Like bawling my eyes out in the middle of the garage hard. It wasn’t because I was afraid of him having an affair or because I thought he would leave me. No, it was much vainer than that- I was hit with the harsh reality that as a woman, I will continue to get older. I won’t look as good as I used to, and there will always be younger women, some of whom might try to swoop in and steal my husband.
I realized, there in that moment, that I can’t compete with those 23-year olds who haven’t had any babies or haven’t had to worry that they will gain 8 pounds from looking at a brownie, even if it is organic. (It’s coming though, ladies. It hits all of us). I’m getting older. My body isn’t what it was and no matter how many days per week I work out it probably never will look the same. I’m just getting older. Plain and simple.
I cried over this girl not because she tried to sleep with my husband, but because I realized I’m not her anymore. My self-doubt and my confidence were hit hard. Younger women never intimated me until that day.
I want to tell you that after some deep introspection that the self-doubt subsided and I am more confident in myself and my body than ever. But that’s not true. I find myself comparing my body to the bodies of girls without babies or years of sleepless nights under their belts, and wondering why I don’t look like that anymore. Sure, I know why I don’t look like that anymore, but even my gorgeous children can’t make me feel better about this.
Maybe one day I’ll look back on this and laugh. I’ll think how silly the girl was in trying to think she could steal my husband away, and how ridiculous I was for comparing myself to all these girls much younger than me. But for now, I will wallow in my mid-life crisis state of mind until I get too old to care anymore.
Photo: stock photo mania/Shutterstock