What was it like turning 40 in the ’00s and 50 in the ’10s? Was there celebration at all? And coping with the ‘change of life’ – was it a different experience to Jill’s?
At 30 I had my first baby. It was the 1990s and I remember my aunt telling me that when she became pregnant at the same age it was labelled “elderly multigravida”.
I felt far from elderly.
My friends were either having kids too or getting ahead in their careers. Not many were doing both at that stage. The term “having it all” was a freshly hatched concept.
But, unlike generations gone by, many of us had moved far from home. I had moved from Adelaide to Sydney for work a few years prior, and, with no family or close friend network I found that ‘having a baby’ was not the simple experience I’d expected. My child was very sick for his first year and I found it lonely and exhausting.
The internet had only just become available; I remember the first search engines and my dial up modem. I spent hours searching for other mothers who were experiencing what I was. This was long before Mummy Bloggers.
With three kids and back at work as a television publicist, turning 40 still seemed like a big deal at the time. The network I worked for had a target audience of 16-39 year-olds. Apparently at 40 you no longer appreciate The Simpsons.
And as Ma pointed out there are so many colloquialisms that go with turning 40… it just seemed… like I should run away.
So instead of a party, we flew the kids to my in-laws and hub and I took off on a two week adventure in Vietnam.
In all I enjoyed my 40s. My kids were more independent. My work life wasn’t ideal but I had accrued some wonderful friends. I still felt exactly the same inside and I was up at 5.30am for spin class three times per week.
The closer I came to 50 my exercise habits changed considerably and yoga has since become my recreation of choice. So, for my 50th, just last year, I continued the theme of running away and spent two weeks in Goa, India – at a yoga resort.
Now reading my mother’s experience I know this was something she would never have been in the position to do. The cost of flying in the 70s and 80s was prohibitive and leaving us kids with her mother to trail exotic locations just wasn’t possible. JJ has done plenty of travelling since then mind you.
So I’m now in my 50s and, yes, the dreaded menopause has caught up with me. Night sweats are my body’s preferred torment. Though they should be called night swims!
I’m not at the free gymnastics stage yet (does yoga count?) and I suffer excruciating period cramps – kind of a bookend from the 13-year-old girl with nothing but an enormous pad, a hot bath and my mother’s Dr Spock book to soothe the pain and foreboding.
Oh and I don’t even attempt dinner parties. My French husband does most of the cooking.
I’m not 100% in agreement with JJ where she says, “The answer to fighting the sorrow at ageing is to stick to your age group and don’t listen to the wets who tell you to grow older gracefully”. I enjoy hanging with women of all ages, like my mate Marielle who is 18 years younger.
But I have to agree with her last line.
“Being disgraceful is the way to go if you don’t mind being troublesome.”