Friday, December 5, 2008

The New Adolescence

You know, people really do sort of ignore the middle aged woman. Young women and younger mothers get a lot of publicity and even old ladies do, but in the middle? We sort of don't seem to exist in our popular culture. It's a mysterious age, the forty-something. So, I decided I'd better figure out what I was up against a while back and read up on menopause. Menopause itself is actually a destination. An arrival point. To what, I'm not sure. A newer and wiser kind of adulthood, I hope. At least you won't have to worry about being pregnant during that stage. All the stuff they tell you about menopause is really peri-menopause, or the nasty stuff you have to go through to arrive there. And it dawned on me as I read about it, that this all sounded familiar in a twisted sort of way. There were a lot of parallels with adolescence. Adolescence is that nasty stage that leads us to adulthood. Why, this was just a different kind of adolescence. Now, I may be new on the scene. The closest I've come to a hot flash was when the kids turned the heater on in the summer and it got up to 95 degrees before I noticed. I'm really hoping to avoid that symptom, but some of the other symptoms are certainly making themselves manifest. It is all starting to become crystal clear in my mind how these two ages relate. So, I now present to you a comparison of Adolescence and Middle Age.

In adolescence, your body starts changing. You shoot up in height (unless you're me) and your breasts and hips fill out. You hardly recognize those longer legs. And you grow hair in places you never had hair before. In middle age, your body starts changing. You shoot out all around your middle and your boobs deflate and sag. You hardly recognize those legs being taken over by cellulite and varicose veins. You lose hair in places you always expected it and grow new silver hair all over in it's place. And finally, after all these years you understand the three little pigs' declaration about the hair on their chinny chin chin. And nose hair? What's up with that? Is there a reason why we need more, or is it just growing longer?

In adolescence, girls are self conscious in white pants because they just never know when that unreliable "monthly visitor" will appear and leave them in an embarrassing spot. Gradually, over time, it gets more predictable. In middle age, women relive this uncertainty in reverse order.

In adolescence, you experience new feelings and sensations you never felt before. In middle age you feel new feelings and sensations you never expected yet, like stiff joints and aching backs.

In adolescence, your eyes can't help but wander towards those boys. In middle age, your eyes can't help but roll at those men. Teenagers may need a cold shower now and then to cool their hormones off. Middle agers may need a cold shower now and then to wash off the sweat bath. Adolescent girls may be advised to keep their legs crossed when hanging out with boys. Middle aged women may be advised to keep their legs crossed when sneezing. Teenagers may have problems focusing on important tasks what with the social distractions. Middle agers may forget what the task at hand was or where they put it down, what with all the interruptions.

Adolescents have a hard time getting enough sleep, with that social calendar, screens to stare at, and your latest love to think about, talk on the phone to, or text with all night long. Middle agers have a hard time getting their bodies to shut down and go back to sleep after the teenagers, or their bladder, wakes them up.

Adolescents have little foresight. Forty somethings have little eyesight. Adolescents can't hear their parents because they have an ipod plugged in their ears. Plus, selective hearing is a natural defense mechanism to get them off the hook a lot. Middle agers can't hear their children because they have wax plugged in their ears. Plus they have become deaf and desensitized to all their progeny's whining and wailing, as a natural defense mechanism to preserve sanity.

In adolescence, you might despair when you look in the mirror and find your face has broken out in zits overnight. In middle age, you might despair when you look in the mirror and find your face has broken out in wrinkles, seemingly overnight. Plus, the zits still pop out too. Good thing you are so much more self confident than you were the first time around.

Adolescent girls find themselves being uncontrollably moody, irritable or weepy for no apparent reason. Forty something women do too, but on top of that, nature has played a cruel trick on her and most likely she is dealing with this at the same time her adolescent daughter is too. It's like living in a blender. Nothing like a ride on the wild side, right?

In adolescence, you have so many possibilities looming ahead of you and big decisions about what you'll do when you get out of high school. In middle age, you have so many possibilities looming ahead of you and big decisions about what you'll do when your nest is empty.

So, sit back, relax and don't worry about middle age. You're ready! You already had a trial run once when you went through adolescence. Am I right, Mom?


Kellan said...

This was great and I think you are right - adolescence is a pretty darn good preparation!

Have a good week - Kellan

Janna said...

It's sad to think we all have to go through that again. It was hard enough the first time around. I'm glad I have a little ways to go, though I know the time will fly faster than I can imagine.

Kalynne Pudner said...

You are SO right! I love the part about the crossed legs. And going through it at the same time as your daughter? Try going through it at the same time as FOUR daughters. Aughgh!

Pancake said...

That is SO on! And some great writing!! Getting older is not fun.

I love what this comedian says, when we are young and go through the change they tell us we are turning into women, when we are older and we go through the change no one tells us, ME I am becoming my father

4boyzmdmom said...

I laughed hysterically--probably because most of that sounded pretty familiar! Great comparison, and so cleverly written!

RAQ said...

Well done!! That was a great comparison. You could write a book!

Mary Ellen said...

So true. Every word of it. I am 'enjoying' this phase of my life as much as I can between hot flashes and sleep deprivation, but I wouldn't go back to adolescense for anything. Thanks for the great post. It made me smile!

debi9kids said...

OMGosh! Fabulously insightful! What a GREAT post!!!

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Oh what a great post!

Suburban Correspondent said...

Living in a blender - you've got it. I really hate the 40's.