October 20, 2011

Age is Just a Number – Realities of Being a 40-something


Three Generations of Women - All Rights Reserved

I’m not afraid to tell people I’m 42. Turning 30 was a bit more bothersome than turning 40. However, as a 30-something not much really changed. Besides becoming a mom at 35, my 30s weren’t much different than my late 20s for most things.

But 40, there are some big differences. Maybe it’s because technology took such a big hold in the last 5 years and being immersed in it has been so different. It’s possible that just having a young child and all that goes with being a parent (you know, the schlepping, the asking, the checking, the asking some more, the non-stop questions, etc.) caught up with me at 40.

It’s not like I’m feeling old or anything. In fact, I feel better than I did most of my 30s. I eat better, that’s for sure! Exercise, well, I think about it more if that counts for anything. And I’m a quick study when it comes to all the new technology.

There are some major realities that come with being 40, though. And it’s not just me. I’ve verified this information in a very unscientific way – I’ve kvetched with my girlfriends! So, what are they? How can being 40 be so different?

Well, first of all, I’ve seen a lot and it takes more and more to really impress me. I used to have to actually crumple up entire sheets of paper because I realized I missed a word in the middle of the page. Telling me that it takes time to type things up doesn’t ratchet up my empathy. I know what it takes and I know that changing a few words isn’t all that hard. So getting one over on me really takes some effort.

Most movies and TV shows suck (except GLEE, Criminal Minds, NCIS and RuPaul’s Drag Race). Yes, it’s true. It’s hard to compete with the 80s drama of JR and Sue Ellen on Dallas, or the shenanigans that were LA Law or the great Sunday family programming of The Wonderful World of Disney. And let’s not forget the original feathered hair darling that was Julie, the Cruise Director and of course the best bartender Isaac on The Love Boat. The sitcoms that truly engaged a generation – Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Three’s Company, Alf – are all classics. Compared to programming on today, there may be a lot of choices now but very few will define a generation or connect them like those of the past. And movies, the fact that the movies of my youth are now being remade is proof enough of how awesome they were. Only, the remakes are never as good.

Fashion is where there is a big divergence. Fashion as a 20 or 30-something is dramatically different than that of a 40-something. If you’re like me and wore classic pieces (and a lot of black) it’s not all that much different in the grand sense of I still wear lots of black and classic pieces. But the body is experiencing a few changes that don’t seem to look good when dressed up like a 20 year old. You’ve seen “those women” who dress more like they’re going to a frat party than the carpool lane at the middle school. I’m not advocating mom-jeans, mumus, swishy track suits or any type of coordinating ensemble. However, I am making a plea to the Liz Clairborne, Vera Wang, and other designers of clothes for me and my 40-something gal pals – help us find that happy medium. Stop thinking I want to look like I’m 20 or like I’m 60. Been there, done that with the 20s and I’ll get to 60 soon enough so stop rushing me!

And since we’re talking fashion, let’s make a brief mention of the hair. I don’t color my hair. Don’t highlight, perm, straighten, tint, texturize or do any of that stuff to my hair. If it’s something other than cut and blow dry, I don’t do it. I had my hair highlighted once. It looked nice but then I had to go back to have it fixed every 4 weeks. That’s too much maintenance. Now, though, there are these gray hairs trying to be coy and pretend they’re fancy highlights. Not working! My mother colored her hair so I never knew if she went gray. My grandmother has never colored her hair and I remember her going gray in her late 40s or early 50s. But she also was born in 1920 and had “Grandma Hair” all my life. Now my dilemma is whether to color my hair or not.

Oh, and I can’t forget about eyesight. I had Lasik about 5 years ago and went from blind as a bat to holy mother of all things I can see! But now that I’m 42 I wear what I call “old lady glasses”. They’re the glasses I wear because things I used to see just fine are now all of a sudden too far away for me to see them clearly. Sure, they’re cute glasses (purple ones!), but after the freedom of life without glasses (which I knew nothing of since I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 8 years old) it’s annoying not to have my (paid-for) perfect vision any more.

In closing, I’ll say that overall being a 40-something is pretty awesome. There are lots of things I don’t care about that I used to spend so much energy on. Then again, there are things I never thought about that I think about. I don’t feel old, but I definitely don’t feel young. I sometimes feel like an expert but other times I am clueless and sound like the geezer from Scooby Doo. Being 40 is pretty amazing. Then again, I hear that so are our 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. But only if we have the right mindset. Because really, age is just a number!

Do you give much thought to how things have changed as you’ve gotten older?

Note: Photo is of me, my mother in law and BabyGirl on Mother’s Day 2005



Kelly Blackwell October 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I’m 44, and I definitely am pretty comfortable with this side of 40. Every new age milestone just keeps getting better. 🙂

Sara October 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Kelly, it does seem that many of my friends who are in their 40s + are much more comfortable in their skin than when they were younger. Also, there’s something to say about the wealth of knowledge and experience we’ve all had!

Thanks for sharing and bringing joy,

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang October 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm

First of all, I had no idea you were in your 40’s. You have beautiful skin friend! Yup, getting much more comfortable as I get older. One day at a time, i walk further away from worrying about what people think of me.

Sara October 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Kate, you are so kind! I’m glad you’re finding that with age you’re seeing that you don’t need others to validate you.


An Authentic Life October 21, 2011 at 12:01 am

As a 40+ yr old woman, I found myself chuckling over the TV/movie references (btw, I lived for Love Boat each week and am appalled at the thought of a remake of Footloose! Why mess with perfection?)
I feel better (in my 40s) than I’ve ever felt – yet at the same my body/skin don’t seem to be cooperating as I would like. And the little aches and pains that appear out of nowhere for doing the simplest acts, are unwelcome and unnecessary.
Funny that you mention coloring your hair, as Sexy Hubby just said to me last night, “Why don’t you go natural?” To which I replied, “Are you out of your stinking mind!”
I’ll grow old gracefully (in age-appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes) but I will NOT stop coloring my hair come hell or high water!
Thanks Sara! You made me smile reading this!

Sara October 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

KT, your comment made me laugh! Here I am wondering if I should color my hair and you’re running a 4-minute mile to your salon appointment before Sexy Hubby can cancel the appointment.

I’m with you on those little aches and pains that appear out of no where. There are days I wonder how old I am as my knees creek and I limp like an old woman when I get out of the chair. But it makes me laugh too.

I look forward to growing old gracefully with all my girlfriends!


Theresa October 21, 2011 at 12:45 am

First time on your blog. Wait to you turn 50, girlfriend. But I feel more myself, now. More at peace with my fat old body, even though it decided to go and get a chronic leukemia. More accepting that I never did and don’t know how to fit in the real world, not that I ever minded that much. Just figured I missed something in school one day. I feel more ready to put myself out there with my writing.

This is my Someday!

Sara October 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Hello Theresa, and Welcome!

My neighbor across the street told me that the fun begins at 50. That when she turned 50 all her cares about being fashionable, saying the right things, sweating to the oldies went away.

I hope you’re doing well and have the leukemia at bay. Stay positive, smile and enjoy each day! You’re an inspiration to those of us in our 40s!!


Nancy October 21, 2011 at 6:53 am

Sara, I can so totally relate! Except for me, it’s 50s lol! I am constantly amazed at how much things have changed since I was in my 20s…in ways that my soon-to-be 21 year old daughter can’t even imagine! I feel like change keeps me on my toes though, so I try to go with it (not that I have a choice lol!)

But I completely echo your “fashion” request: designers, can we PLEASE come up with something that looks good for our age? Pretty please???? 🙂

Sara October 23, 2011 at 7:37 pm


I look back to my 20s and realize that computers that are less powerful than my phone and about the size of a laser printer were over $1000 and brought so much potential. I remember calling my husband so we can dial-up the internet and log in to Prodigy and chat.

I’m glad the big-hair and glasses of my younger years have gone far, far away. Dressing for my age has been the biggest challenge. So many designers are in their 40s+ and yet they don’t make things for us. Maybe they’ll hear our cry.


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