A Recession and a Sagging Face is Enough to Spoil Any Milestone

It's coming, and I can't stop it. Nobody can. It's marching toward me each and every day. I try to ignore it, but it is futile. Next week, it will be here.

You know what I'm talking about; it's that day that causes deep introspection about where you've been and where you are going. It forces you to pause and add up what you have accomplished and what is left to do. It is, of course, the dreaded 40th birthday.

I've been preparing for this day for the last couple of months. A recession, it turns out, is a great primer. It throws up every value and ideal you have in the air and asks you to re-evaluate, re-categorize, and rethink. I'd say I've done that. My husband and I decided to sell our house. We decided to move from the crazy town we were in, where the taxes were insane and the schools were crap. I decided to get myself a second part-time job and step up the one that I already have. I decided to support my husband in reinventing himself just as I am doing the same.

But the 40th birthday added another zinger. It added a nagging, terrible fear: what if I saw the peak of my wealth in my thirties? This place I am in, this rental situated on the train tracks, is not where I am supposed to be when I am 40 with a couple of kids.

And then there is vanity; this birthday has taught me that I am definitely not immune. This past summer when my family was visiting my in-laws I had a rare moment of peace to look in the mirror one morning. I was, quite literally, horrified. What did I see? The foundation I'd been using for the last 15 years was settling in every single tiny line under my eyes. Worse, I had nice little bags under my eyes, just sitting there saying, "Hello. You've officially surpassed peak beauty."

This experience facilitated a mad race to figure out just what one does when faced with this problem. What products do "older women" wear? What kind of make-up favors them? Do I have to switch from powders to creams? Do I have to stop wearing dark lipstick because it will make me look old and feather into my mouth wrinkles? Should I give up on foundation altogether?

It is not easy to find the answers to these questions. I now understand what people mean when they say that our society is fixated on youth. A run through every fashion magazine I could find yielded no information. A question out to twitter cyberspace is still hanging there, without one response. My friends, all at least 6 years younger than me (I got a late start with marriage) have no words of wisdom. I finally found some answers in Good Housekeeping because, presumably, this is what women my age read.

With a few answers and a few new products I have settled into my mature look as much as one can, and I've scheduled a family photo shoot so I can capture one last glimpse of my beautiful self before those bags get too prominent. My new lifestyle? I'm doing okay with that, too. We are getting used to the noise of the trains, and I'm coping with a few extra hours of work between caring for two toddlers. I must admit, sometimes this new life is exhilirating, as change always is, but it is not easy. And I still don't want to be 40.

Popular Posts