When Did I Turn Into My Parents?

‘Well, at least it’s good for the garden,’ I heard myself utter as I spotted the first drop of overdue rain absorbed by our thirsty lawn last week.

A moment of silence ensued in the kitchen.

I froze and the teens looked appalled. The old man smiled knowingly as he slunk back in front of the golf, because he has been riding the middle-aged wave (a little too comfortably) for a while now.

Realisation dawned and panic set in. The life cycle had suddenly started moving too quickly for me.

SHOCK, HORROR! When did I turn into my parents?

Admittedly, on paper I have been middle-aged for a while now; well, that is IF I’D CHOSEN TO ACCEPT THAT PARTICULAR LABEL, of course. But I honestly thought that I’d been managing to do a pretty good job of:

a) successfully disguising my physical age with my liberal (albeit immature) use of ‘mutton’ fashion and over-use of concealing make-up, and

b) maintaining a steadfast grip on my ridiculously immature outlook, which I have proved several times (here), which has helped trick my mind into sustaining a youthfulness that my birth certificate betrays.

But apparently you aren’t actually as old as you feel; that’s an old wives tale. Scientifically speaking, you’re actually as old as your birth register tells you, so no matter how hard we might all try to defy the ageing process and turn back the clock, we’re basically f*cked.

And the descent into middle age is rather like a roller coaster. Once minute you’re cruising along thinking that it’s actually not that bad and then suddenly you blurt out something ridiculous like ‘rain being good for the garden’ without thinking, and you’re betrayed.

Which is what happened to me this week, and it made me understand all the other ways my body is transitioning into the next phase of my cycle.

It’s such a subtle shift, this whole ageing process. Blink and you miss it. Can any of you identify with any of the following changes in your outlook and habits?

  • You see even though the old man is aging too (and hair loss is very cruel), I still find him vaguely attractive. In fact I now find older men quite attractive, something that would have created a small lump of bile in my mouth had I considered them in my twenties. When did rounded guts, hairy backs and nostrils and uncontrollable wind become interesting?
  • Even though I look my age, my mirror still tells me I look good, whereas in my twenties I was never happy with my appearance. I now understand the idea of being ‘happy in my own skin’. I’m not certain if this new found wisdom is based on age, capitulation or tiredness, but it’s liberating.
  • My ‘wrinkly-radar’ in terms of fashion has desensitized and I feel a magnetic pull towards clothes I wouldn’t have been seen dead in five years ago. I am drawn to ‘flats’ and low wedges, (ideally metallic and topped with some tacky floral decoration or bow on the top).
  • I get excited about choosing new glasses frames.
  • I have started waking early and going to bed later like my parents did (which I found mystifying at the time). I now want to wildly embrace each day and cram as much living into it as possible. Is this my body’s way of maximizing my time left?
  • I don’t WANT to drink as much alcohol as I used to because ‘I want to embrace each day and cram as much living into it as I can’. (This is still a work in progress).
  • I care more about the health of my frangipanis and my dog than my children.
  • My annual medical expenses cost more than my holidays.
  • Holiday choices are based on comfort rather than ‘experience’.
  • It’s a tough call choosing between a good book and sex.
  • I’m unmoved by One Direction.

Of course, what you should do is to transition graciously, like your kids want you to ……you turn into your parents.

 American Photo courtesy of Offbeat Photography at www.flickr.com

7 thoughts on “When Did I Turn Into My Parents?

  1. Some really great stuff in this blog that made me smile – while some made me a bit sad as I think of my own battle with age. I particularly like the line – My annual medical expenses cost more than my holidays

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  2. Aaaah reminds me of some of my posts of ageing 😦
    Can so relate, rain good for the garden, what’s the weather going to be like tomorrow and the next day (like it matters).
    I go for low heel shoes.
    I too wake early even on weekends (like my parents) and wonder is it the body clock telling you “You are wasting your life away lying in this bed woman”!
    I to, do not drink as much alcohol knowing that the next day and possible beyond are ruined and I shall never get back.
    How do I know I have turned into my parents though…when I ‘tsk’ at someone with a crazy hair do or sigh when getting off the couch or moan when putting socks on.
    Oh the joys of age… here we come!

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  3. My particular moment of abject horror arrived while having a ‘spirited discussion’ with my son – I can’t remember what it was about, of course, but the conversation had deteriorated from calm, mature reasoning and discussion to my son digging his heels in and putting roots down (I can’t for the life of me imagine where he gets this trait from).

    Tumbling together along the shrinking tunnel of decreasing response options, we arrived at the fateful moment: “Why should I?” said my younger mirror – image, folding his arms meaningfully. Exhausted after twenty minutes of some frankly superb mental manouvering (honest!) – only for it all to come to naught – I struggled to find once more the original piece of reasoning I had begun with. Desperately scrabbling around the empty, echoing cave of my overheated brain, I stumbled, spluttered and from deep, deep, DEEP down in my psyche came the dreadful words: “Because I say so!”

    “AAAAARRRGGGHHHNOOOOYOUDIDN’TREALLYJUSTSAYTHATDIDYOU?” blotted out all my other synaptic functions, but fortunately I stayed upright while my son looked at me with a “What did you just say?” look on his face.
    I was taken back to innumerable parental instructions of my childhood in a whirl of images, sounds and feelings. I don’t want to go there again…I won’t be saying THAT again.

    Here’s a particular beauty I will never, ever use (except in jest) but which was a not particularly unusual sound in my childhood home: “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about!”. Fortunately this was an idle, as well as a totally counter productive threat from the 60s and early 70s…happy days?

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    1. Yes, I’ve said all of those too. But I bet you didn’t tell your son to stop secreting biscuits away in his room or he’d end up with biscuit cancer? My eldest nearly ruptured her spleen on that one although I must say that the absurdity was worth it, because my son did look worried for a nanosecond.

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