dazzling and interesting on a shoestring
When a Woman Like Me Turns 40
Post twin pregnancy and turning forty, I’m reevaluating the shape of my body—literally. My health is another issue with which I have very little issue. I am, alas in some respects, not the long, lithe and lean dancer that I used to be. Oh I suppose I could join CrossFit and dump my twenty year ban on beef, pork and lamb and go on the uber-trendy Paleo diet. I could work really hard to look really hard in my forty year-old skin. But the truth is: I don’t wanna.
I’ve got better things to spend my time on, like the growth of my children, the expansion of my world of knowledge and experience and the shape of my brain. I spent forty minutes the other morning going out for a run, which was nice but the muscle development in my legs was only a minor side benefit compared to the time spent outdoors in the fresh air and the audiobook I was engrossed in.
I run to keep my brain from short-circuiting and destroying itself, to keep my metabolism high enough to enjoy these scones in the morning and a glass of whiskey in the evening, to ready myself for a ten-day backpacking trek with my dad this summer, and to get my energy levels a fraction closer to that of my kids. A rear end that my husband still admires is a nice touch, too, but I secretly believe he loves me for my mind. I also spent an hour and a half the other night reading photographer Sally Mann’s memoir and drinking the aforementioned glass of whiskey. Screw the Dailey Method, I’m stretching out on the couch.
When I see middle-aged women who are thin and shaped like rails, I think that often times they look brittle. Aging skin doesn’t go over long and lean bodies in the same way. A hard body is just that—hard, sharp and uncomfortable.
When my children sit down in my lap, I want them to lean into the softness of my stomach where they were once housed rather than six-pack abs. My arms are toned into the perfect shape for hugs and my breasts have served their worthiest purpose and been declared perfectly adequate.
Is this ageing gracefully? I don’t know. I think that has more to do with the way I treat people and build relationships rather than the way I treat my skin or build my muscles. Do I worry about how I look? Oh sure. I’m a human being and a woman in the world. But I’m ready to shed my identity of pretty and young, long and lean. I’m not totally sure what my description is after this, though I hope not to disappear entirely. Too often, I think that happens when women have children and then creep toward middle age. I hope that people will see me for what I create and not just the creation of my children.
I dream that someday, fifty will be an age where women are seen as being regal and amazing lifetime creations. At seventy, she is beyond all value, because nothing is as cherished as a grandmother who is a treasure box of adventures, games, rhymes and memories. I will tell my grandchildren that I was once a lithe and lean dancer, but the beauty of the memory is the music, the dance and the swirling of silk and golden coins. This is what I want to hold dear, what I will deem amazing and magical—not the structure of my bones or the percentage of fat that clings to them. A well-shaped body is not what makes up a life. It is the body of memories that make a well-shaped life.
For more about my life and thoughts and other tidbits:
Running in the Rain and Enjoying Nature