The first time you are called ‘aunty’ by a stranger or notice the flab around your belly – you may be in your forties, but guess what? They’re not bad at all!
The first time I realised I was getting middle-aged, and probably carrying more flab in my midsection than I should, was on a trip to India. A young street vendor said to me: “Auntie, can you buy some flowers?” and I was traumatised because the last time I visited they had addressed me as ‘didi’ (older sister). And an older sister looks considerably younger than your aunt!
So, back in America, where thankfully people do not make you their family members instantly, I joined a Zumba class.
Three weeks after doing Zumba diligently, the scale had not budged at all. I did look a bit toned up and had more energy. In my twenties and thirties, I could exercise for a couple weeks, eat right and the results would show on the scale instantly! But in my forties, it takes considerably longer.
I have also become very forgetful. Earlier, in my youth, my brain was razor sharp. I could memorise phone numbers, create grocery lists in my mind and remember all my user ids and passwords.
The other day I went to the bank and for some reason the lady wanted my social security number, and I only remembered the last four digits! I looked like a deer trapped in the headlights as the lady looked at me impatiently and condescendingly. She probably thought how dumb I was.
I have three kids, a girl and two boys and my mommy brain is usually befuddled. But I do know that with careful planning, organising and writing down notes on a calendar, I will be fine.
So far, I have not forgotten to pick up or drop my kids from various places. Though, when the minivan gets quiet, I do blurt out really scared, “Hey Armaan’s (my youngest) in there right? Hope we did not leave him behind!”
A slowing metabolism, a fading memory, greying hair, missing your youthful skin and figure. Additionally, trying to balance work and home, raising kids, looking after ageing parents who have turned into another set of kids, what is there to like in your forties?
Plenty, I would say. With age, your courage and confidence multiply. In my twenties, I was 125 pounds but I did not feel I was pretty enough. If anybody complimented me on my looks, I would get tensed and worried. Now, thirty pounds later I really think I am all that. When people compliment me, I smile and say thank you and I know that they mean it and I deserve it.
I hear slim women cribbing about not having a flat stomach and I am amazed and annoyed by their complaints. How much skinnier do you want to be? After reading and researching every diet out there, I know that I love to eat, 1200 calories a day will keep me hungry and cranky.
The best thing I can do for myself, is to own my body and to rock it. Somebody rightly said that confidence is your best accessory and it will add a glow to your countenance. A positive attitude and a great hair day helps too!
According to me, forty really is the peak of your existence.
You peak in every area of your life. Practice makes perfect, so you are sure of yourself. You do not have to fake it anymore and you learn how to say no. Neither are you worried about what anyone thinks of you. And you do what feels right to you .
It is a very fulfilling feeling when the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Especially when you have a deeper and better understanding of who you are physically, mentally and spiritually, and what you want from life. Your forties are a pivot point, a half time in the game of life.
Forties are a time to reflect on how the previous years have been and how you want to live the rest of your existence. More importantly, the kind of legacy you want to leave behind. I feel an increasing awareness of my mortality, an urgency to live the best life I can because I have wasted enough time already. It is a wake up call to work towards fulfilling dreams and striking things off your bucket list.
In my twenties, I was very serious. I had a poker face and the weight of the world upon my shoulders. So much so, that I took things literally and could not understand when people were joking.
My husband has a crazy sense of humour and thanks to him, I was able to shake off some of my seriousness. I can now laugh at jokes and pranks and even at myself. Whatever I am going through, I know that life will be much more bearable if I approach it with a sense of humour.
In your forties, you are definitely beginning to experience peri-menopause. This is the period of a woman’s life shortly before the occurrence of the menopause. As your estrogen decreases you may experience mood swings and fatigue.
So the next time you succumb to the urge of crying uncontrollably, just know that it’s the side effects of your hormones going out of whack and all is really well with the world. As a teenager, I never had pimples, but now, they are erupting everywhere.
I work at the library. And I have always worn a light cardigan or a jacket there, even in summer, as the air conditioning made me cold, but not anymore. For the first time in years, I am not cold in the library.
At home, when I say, “Oh God, I am so hot, I feel so hot,” my husband will smile and say “Yes, you are, I agree.” And I will laugh, but there is no pun intended. I go over and decrease the temperature in the air conditioner settings.
Mid-life crisis is real, it affects both men and women. A sense of restlessness and boredom pervades your soul and the desire to breakthrough can drive you insane.
Men buy red sports cars and women have affairs or vice versa. For me, luckily, mid- life mayhem has not been bad. Neither I am not going to pull an Eat, Pray, Love on my family anytime soon. (For those not familiar with Eat, Pray, Love, it’s a memoir and a movie of a woman who leaves her family behind to find herself in travels to Italy, India and Bali.)
I occupy my spare time with things I love to do, like volunteering, reading and gardening and that soothes and calms me down. Some things, in the future scare me, like my kids learning to drive. And eventually leaving us behind in an empty house, but I know that I have to be strong and I have to let go. I am being mindful and trying to enjoy and cherish every moment I spend with my children as they will fly out of the nest soon.
Moreover, I have learnt that I have to love people for who they are and not who I want them to be. I have learned that I cannot change what people say but I can change how I react to them. Plus, I am trying to be more disciplined, motivated and productive and live my forties fabulously with fortitude.
Poised on the mountaintop
Waiting to fly
I feel like a beautiful butterfly
Rid of the protective cocoon
Took so long but feels so soon
Tenacious, fierce, indomitable
Images flash, myriad memories clash
Ecstasy, pain, love and loss
The roads I took, the paths I walked
The roles I played, the talks I talked
Led me to who I am and where I am at
And, it’s purely exquisite, almost sublime
The road, the passengers and the view
My wings trembling in anticipation of the adventure anew
My beating heart wishing I can see my journey through
For the BEST, is yet to come!
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I grew up in India but I have lived in Southeast USA since 1996. Part-
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