Apparently the origin of the phrase ‘life begins at forty’ is actually a 20th century coinage (looks like the 20th century liked to add some frills, instead of wrinkles-… I like that!) Prior to that it was more accurate to say- ‘ death begins at forty’, as most people didn’t live beyond 40!! (Double yikes!!)
I was pretty apprehensive approaching the big four zero, that I had nightmares about it (I am a vivid and serial dreamer- when I am asleep that is) I would wake up in a bath of sweat. It was this chant going over and over “ forty forty forty”, whilst being attacked by a huge number 40, to the music of Joseph Bishara from the horror movie - The Conjuring. I had no idea why I was so jittery about this, as it seems such a silly thing to worry about, now that the scales are tilting towards fifty! Sometimes I do get the jitters, but that is a nerve issue and a totally different story. Didn’t help that my son laughingly pointed out the Fossil store at Arcade, I think? And said “ look, mama, that is what you are” needless to say he doesn’t laugh much now, doesn’t visit the Arcade independence anymore. Something about a ‘trauma site”?
So here are my very own Forty things to expect when you turn forty, I give you twenty now, twenty later.
- Gray Hair (is it spelt grey or grey??? Can discuss that later as by mid-forties we add confusing words to the mix)- some people actually grey much earlier, for instance, my mother started greying in her early twenties. In my case, I just woke up the day after my birthday and Bam! A whole bunch of suckers were hiding right beneath the surface. This brings me to…
- Weakening EyeSight – so…. maybe the greys were already there, but I just didn’t see it? I was told by my optometrist that I needed reading glasses at 40, but I would be damned before I get those before 43, at least!! All because my husband only started needing them at 42, I’d be damned if I got them any earlier. You tend to get stubborn about things like that. At Cargills, just the other day (we go to Cargills at least three times a day) I was struggling to read the labels (I swear that they make the lettering tiny, just to add to all the other infuriating things you need to handle post 40- like your husband/boyfriend/all men in general.) so I am quick to whip out my phone, which has a magnifier option (going gets tough, the tough get their smartphone out, which can do most everything these days except make you human and not bent over zombies) I am feeling like such a hypocrite right now as I am one of those said zombies…. Sometimes. But heck, trouble is sometimes we forget to bring the phone.
- Forgetfulness - not sure if this is a 40 thing, or if I was forgetting from before but I forget what I did? So you spend your productive hours walking up and down as you go into a room and forget why you came there. Or the time you walk upstairs repeatedly before leaving home to collect, car keys, then phone, then wallet, then your bra, sometimes even a child (the whole reason you were heading out anyway -to some tuition class in Maharagama) Just last week I put my phone in the fridge and took a jar of fancy strawberry jam for a drive with me. It was exhilarating. I relished that drive!
- Stubbornness – my husband says I was born stubborn, and hence I haven’t known anything else. So if anyone knows how it happened to them after 40, please let me know?
- Body parts start betraying you – starts with plantar fasciitis, with a bit of Achilles tendonitis thrown in (shockwave therapy, FOR EXTREME CASES, at Nawaloka, helps, but hurts like a bitch!) So you start wearing those fancy Fit flops, depends where you get it from, if its from the west it is trendy, if purchased from the east, it tends to get ever so blingy and downright goday. They now have a range of stylish sneakers etc., just so you can give those Nike wearing SOB’s a bit of a run…not literally though. Forty sort of sashayed in for me sideways, with a sort of pre-party hurrah, when I was told at 39 that I needed a hysterectomy. Apparently, everything inside was pretty much fused and coming together (unlike my life!) -which was not good, so out it went. Coming out of the anaesthetic with a start, to find my gyno grinning and telling me “ we managed to keep the ovaries!” well yippeyadooday! At least the hormones would function because the ovaries were intact.
- HOT FRIGGIN FLASHES- I am a person who sweats a lot in general. If I thought I was bad before….Damn! I could just stand doing nothing and just pour down with sweat! I seriously considered emptying my fridge to get myself in there (I could have just switched on the air conditioning, but where is the drama in that?)
- Cold flashes- So I thought I might enjoy this one, but heck NOOOO! It made sleeping at night so tiring. Cover yourself because you are cold. Next minute- kick off the covers because it is too hot, repeat all night long…which brings me to
- Insomnia – The party is just starting. You get into bed absolutely exhausted and ready to knock off. Next minute you are wide-awake!! You can hear the night…the trees, the leaves, the crickets, my maid snoring from the floor below on the extreme opposite end of the house. This made me super angry until I realized the angrier I get, the less sleep I get because I was so mad that I could not get to sleep. Now I read, watch a movie (with headphones or I risk divorce) and if I am feeling super fly, we take out a duster (French maid style, but more Kusuma and less Yvette) and we start dusting and cleaning the house to get a head start on the following day. Did I mention I have OCD and dust allergies?
- Allergies- I will just leave that here. You all know this! Stop pretending
- Umph or Ammay (take your pick)- the noises you make when you get up from a chair, bed, squat down to pick something up, and can't quite get up without holding something for support, his more mid-forties than early. Take some comfort.
- Bladder control- I am now a master in the art of crossing my legs and tensing my pelvic floor when sneezing, so I don’t pee my pants. Also, take an extra pair of underwear with you in case you couldn’t quite cross-said legs and tighten floor fast enough, or you were with company and would have looked strange. Remember …always, always pee before exercising, especially before jumping jacks, squat jumps (I feel my non existent womb slide down on this one, or maybe it's my bladder not sure which, as I was not very good with biology anyway) and for crunches, where I sometimes have flashbacks to the labour room. It is traumatic!
- Embarrassing your children – Yes! You become one of ‘those’ parents who ask your child’s friend awkward/ nosey (well according to them anyway- I don’t see what’s wrong with asking them what their parents do for a living??? I could be sending my kid to a total psychos house?) Or displaying too much emotion/affection/obsession, like shouting at your child after dropping them off at the school gate “ I love you”, and “call me if you need anything”
- People not that much younger than you start calling you Aunty – First time that happened I ignored it, and still I hear “aunty” it was a prefect at the Bishops College auditorium, and I looked behind to see who she was calling. Apparently, it was me! I don’t think I looked that old, that girl obviously missed her yearly eye check-ups!
- Trying to dress young -Try to take tips/knick clothes from your teenager’s wardrobe, only to be given a dressing down! And be accused of stretching out her favourite clothes. That was harsh! Coming from someone you birthed!
- WEIGHT GAIN - has to be highlighted and underlined. No one told me that all I had to do was inhale the wafting smells from kitchen/restaurant, only for it to just settle on me in the form of FAT. This is the penultimate betrayal. I have tried everything, and I mean everything, exercise, cutting out sweets, fad diets (the cabbage soup diet, where I lost seven days and my will to live) sane diets, getting down on my hands and knees and begging God to take away the fat, and I would do anything. Be less crabby maybe? Donate blood; give away a kidney etc. (p.s. both the afore-mentioned do not aid in weight loss) Figure now is well balanced. I have a big tummy to balance my ample booty - just so that I don’t keel over. God is an engineer all right; I wish he had gone more Eiffel tower and less Duomo with me. Don’t get me started on my wrestler's arms!!!
- Exercise – I never did any sports in school, but started working out like a demon in my twenties. I did aerobics, kickboxing, HIIT, weight lifting, yoga and of recent - Crossfit. Yoga calms me (believe me I have fallen asleep and stayed asleep through a full class) and CrossFit makes me just stand there envying everyone who can do double unders, kipping, toes to bar and pedal that insane assault bike!! I am literally dying watching the others, and foolishly tried competing with the younger ones and had to take two weeks off due to injury because as usual ‘we’ overestimate what ‘we’ can do (‘I’ become ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, to make just myself look less foolish). It has been humbling to know I am not as fit as I thought, and my body may be pudgier but my attitude is ‘Mat Fraser’ and can still kick a twenty-something girlies butt.
- Doctors – I have become a hypochondriac. So every ailment is googled and of course, it is Cancer. So we go from Doctor to doctor, doing various investigations (when apparently it was “my head that needed examining”. The person who said this now has a handicap, and not at Golf) Apparently your chances at getting Cancer increases after 40, but I beat them to it as I had a form of cancer at 18, fully recovered, and searching for new diseases to get (I have become my mother!!! gasp!) I am now convinced that I have some secret /rare disease that is not allowing me to lose weight. I swear it has nothing to do with my emotional eating.
- Wrinkles, Cellulite and Hair In dodgy places- Thankfully the wrinkle situation is not too bad. But what I want to know is what is it with cellulite? I used to think this was a type of cello tape (when I was little) I was basically slapped in the face just yesterday, when I removed my clothes to have a shower but forgot to remove my reading glasses… Lo and Behold- it was flipping cellulite city!! I moved my tires (tyre?) around, and it was the same story!! As for the hair, both my children have parents who have beards!! Those straggly annoying ones, which you don’t see until glasses are on, but you know it is there when people look at your chin when talking to you and not your eyes. I have to drag my daughter kicking and screaming with tweezers and a bright light so these can be plucked out. She says nothing can be more humiliating after that! I told her to get over it’s my chin, not my bikini line!!
- Sleep is more precious to you than life. -As it should be. You find yourself making excuses to get home to bed early. From social events. Where you would have club hopped previously, now you just hop into bed, only to be hit by insomnia, hot and cold flashes
- Confusion – in general. In Sinhala, we call it ‘kalabala’. Like should we add a whole bunch of commas? How many are too many brackets? Should I get more cats? Should I have the 3rd scoop of ice cream and say to hell with the diet today?
This would be my first 20…as for my second 20, let me sleep on it and get back. Should I go eat that last piece of dark chocolate??? Decisions, decisions.
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