I have been hearing it for years now – “fifty is the new forty” (albeit, I will entertain that I may have been listening more closely recently). I think it began back when Oprah hit the “big 5-0” a couple of years back. Honestly, at the time I remember being much more thrilled about John Travolta being at Oprah’s big birthday bash than the notion that the seasons of life were being redefined; yet, I retained the information somewhere in the back of my forty-ish brain for later use. Since then I have heard it repeated again and again by every makeover and talk show that focuses on middle-aged women finding their “groove”. I must admit that at first it sounded like a bunch of hogwash, but as I inched ever closer to the new forty I found the idea increasingly sensible.
I started thinking about what this new forty would mean to me as my old forties were circling the drain. I could not help but flashback to all that had gone on in my old forties. The notion of revisiting that decade -while oddly intriguing – seemed somewhat disturbing. Case in point, on the eve of entering my old forties I had my fourth child who was 17 years and 10 months younger than my first. Try doing a high school graduation with a six week old infant – surreal indeed. Now, while I would love to be surrounded by babies well into my eighties, I have been sternly advised by my grown children that it would be unseemly to continue to reproduce at my age. Whenever I even joke about it they bring up putting me in “a home”.
The old forties were of course replete with the things that mark all folks’ lives – joys, struggles, accomplishments, defeats, ice cream. I even got two medals from God during my old forties for surviving raising teenagers (some of you might refer to these as grandchildren). And of course I have been blessed with good health, good fortune and good advice – nothing to snub one’s nose at there- particularly this past week having seen so many folks die at a young age (and noting that young is relative in this context – anyone under 70 is young to me).
No…I don’t think I want my new forty to look like my old forties despite all the fun I’ve had. I want my new forty to be filled with “new” adventures (but I’ll keep the old forties friends, family and memories -thank you). So I have been surveying the landscape of the new forty since Sunday (that was THE day that I became the new forty). A whole new decade in which I can experience – basically anything (except childbirth- else my children will institutionalize me).
So, a hundred fabulous ideas have run across my mind. Mostly the ideas have focused on fulfilling promises to myself that I have not had a chance to live up to yet. This is one such promise, getting back to writing about the crazy life I live. How fortuitous that The Forum had this site advertised in the Sunday paper – on my very birthday – I took it as a sign from the heavens. Being the brilliant multitasker I am (mom of four- what can I say?) it occured to me that this was an opportunity to not only start the new forty off right, but to also chronicle the decade to see if the premise really pans out. Is fifty the new forty – really?
Oprah says the new forty is the best time of a woman’s life, but Oprah is richer than God so I am not so sure she can offer an unbiased opinion. My new forty would be ultra fab as well if I had millions and a television show (oh yes, I know what they say about money not buying happiness, but note only poor people say that). Which reminds me, I wouldn’t at all mind having a television show to talk about real things that go on in folks’ lives. Perhaps I should do that in my new forty – is there enough stage makeup available to make that happen?
I do have a knack for falling into funny situations or they seem to find me. They don’t always seem so funny at the time, but in retrospect you have to know that God has a sense of humor. Take the fellow who came to the door the other day to sell children’s books. He had already stopped at other neighbors’ homes and someone directed him to my house with the information that I had an elementary-aged child (which I do, remember the baby on the cusp of the old forties – she is now ten years old). At any rate, upon answering my door the salesman looked bewildered and checked his notepad and the address before stammering, “I’m sorry, I must have the wrong address…your neighbor Susan told me that the people who lived here had a elementary or middle-school aged child.” I have to tell you, I stood there for a long minute and gave the young man every opportunity to recant what went unsaid in that statement – namely “you are clearly too old to have an elementary or middle-school aged child”. He stood there the whole long minute in utter confusion and no recant occurred. Now mind you, this wasn’t one of my plaid pajama pants, tie dye t-shirt, unshowered, no makeup, at the computer working all day – days. I was actually dressed nicely and wearing makeup. I even curled my hair.
I must confess, at this point I had an internal dialogue, “If I kill this guy will anyone know to come look for him? Would I break a fingernail doing it? Who has a shotgun I can borrow? Will my car get dirty when I go to dispose of his body? If I get a jury of all new forty women will I be acquitted?” Thankfully I took the high road and put on a dour and deeply disappointed face before responding, “I have an elementary-aged child and I am not interested.” When I closed the door I thought to myself – “Seriously…he did not just say that!” – yeah, funny in retrospect.
Ah, but I digress…the new forty…stick with me and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. I already received a very special invitation on Monday in the mail – an invitation to join the AARP – (the day after my arrival to the new forty – how timely). Lest you think I am joking I will scan it and post it online…I can’t make this stuff up…every day it is something new and exciting. I am going to keep my AARP invitation card handy just in case that young man selling children’s books comes back…after all, next time I may be in the plaid pajama pants.
Day two of the new forty – obla di obla da