Approaching the middle in age and raising girls part 5

April 10, 2014 |  Category:   life me parenting


This is my favorite photo of me and Miss C, taken by Mia last year. It reminds me of summery good times.
I often make jokes about how old I am, not because I’m in any kind of denial, but chances are I’m gonna be older than most everyone I meet nowadays if you consider the industry and the social circles that I work in. Most people think I’m in my 30s because I think they just assume that I’m “their age”, so when I do tell people how old I really am, it’s usually either met with an “oh” or a “what, for reals?” Which makes me sometimes think, what the hell, why this reaction? This is a pretty typical conversation of how it all goes down.
Me (half joking, reading yet another “30 under 30 superstars of [insert industry here]”: What about the old people? Why don’t we ever acknowledge the old people?
Newish friend, 30-something years old: Yeah! Why are there never any “40 Under 40” lists?
Me (shaking my head): Dude, we’re not even in the same decade.
Friend (quietly): Oh.
Back when we were kids, people in their 40s seemed so much older than 40 something year olds do now. I could be totally wrong and maybe 24 year olds really do think we’re old as dirt and this is my perception from where I’m standing, but it feels like that line between young and old is more blurred. It’s ridiculous when my friends and I moan about having to deal with adult things like mortgages and insurance because we’ve been adults already forever, and I acknowledge how childish that is, but there’s a large part of me that still feels like I’m 25 inside. But now that I’m pretty much past the childbearing years and I’ve given birth to all the kids I’m ever going to pop out, I feel like age is now an inconsequential number. You just are who you are.
If anything, it’s the girls who are the most visible markers of time (well, that and my hair which is more than half gray now, but we won’t talk abut that). I can already see my future in their faces when we’re having arguments. You know the look they give you, that defiant stare that saids, “you don’t understand anything!” You think to yourself, holy hell child I practically invented that look, and this is the stuff that makes me feel older than anything trivial like not knowing who most of the bands in smaller print are on the lineup of Coachella. Am I really the one on the other side now? Do I really not understand young people? It didn’t seem that long ago that I was flinging that look to my own mom and I really did believe at the time with every fiber of my being that she didn’t understand me at all. Oh how the tables have turned.
So how does this happen? How do you one day find yourself saying stuff like, “when I was your age…” When does something like hitchhiking or moving in with your boyfriend at 19 go from being totally ok to totally appalling when you apply it to your own child? When do we become such hypocrites to this stuff?
I always like to think that I would handle the teenage rebellion stuff better than my mom did, though quite frankly I think she handled it pretty well. Her philosophy in the age before Facebook and Instagram was, “you’re going to do what you want anyway; I just don’t want to know.” I don’t see myself being old at all so my rationale is that I’ll relate to my kids better, but my mom was 10 years younger than I was when she had to deal with me as a teenager. This pretty much blows my mind. Me, at this age now with a 20 year old? That I could technically be a grandmother right now if my life ended up on a different path?? Yikes! Let’s just put that thought on the top shelf of a closet, lock the door and throw the key away.
But other than all that, being in your 40s is pretty ok. I wear what I want, still go to shows, and don’t feel like I need to prove anything to anyone, except maybe myself. I don’t have all the answers to parenting soon-to-be teenage girls and I suspect that I’ll have many days of pulling my hair out in tears, wondering if I handled things the best way that I could, but that goes for pretty much anything in life. This age is often confusing because we’re neither young nor old, just squarely in the middle, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the other half of my life has in store. I’ll just venture a guess and say that it’s going to be pretty good, old lady aches, gray hair and all.

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  • Carol April 10, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I’m 54 in a few months and my kids are 25/21. If you could see how I’m dressed right now…suffice to say we share clothes and I feel okay about that. Also, my kids pull out our music and play it, and even SHARE it on FB with their friends (without credit) which makes me feel pretty cool. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I get the impression that there is less and less generation gap these days than when I was their age.

    • Jenna April 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      I agree, I think the generation gap for some things are less and less.

  • Mieke Zamora-Mackay April 10, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Viva to living our lives as it is. I love the fact that no one ever figures out that I am over 40. I honestly believe that this period is one of the best for women. We’re not old, but not too young to be considered inexperienced. We’ve learned some lessons, and there are still more to come. I feel like this is a moment where we can teach our children to most about loving themselves and pursuing their dreams, because this is when we are able to enjoy ourselves the most.

  • Lakshmi April 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Cannot think of anything very insightful or meaningful to add to this because I am so distracted by the fact that little Miss C is not so little AND she is looking more like her sister than ever before. Where did her round-faced chubbiness go? Sigh.

    • Jenna April 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      She grew up!

      • Lakshmi April 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

        A-Ha, I guess that’s what this post was about anyway – growing up or growing old… take your pick.

  • nichole April 11, 2014 at 10:00 am

    First, what a great photo of you guys!

    I was just talking to my neighbor about the 40s, and we both agreed that we feel at 40 like we thought we’d feel at 30. Like everything has shifted a decade.

    At 30, I was still broke, had no real adult assets, etc. Now at 41, I feel like I am finally getting my ^*&*(^% together. That doesn’t mean I have all the answers (ha! far from it), but I do feel like I have accumulated a bit of wisdom and a few – albeit small – assets.

    It floors me that our kids will be teenagers soon. I can already sense the rebelliousness brewing in my oldest. I am not ready!

    • Jenna April 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      40 is the new 30, it’s true Nichole. I dunno about 50 though….

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag April 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    i don’t know what I’d do if you stopped bloggin, Jenna. we’re the same age, and like you, I’ve always looked younger than my age. this was a bummer when i was a teen and my friends were all these teen dreams and I was getting in for under 12 at the county fair when I was 16. but anyhoo…..middle age. it’s here for me and it’s the weirdest thing ever. and i’m either pre-meno, or peri-meno, or meno, or WHATEVER, but yeah….stuff is definitely starting to happen on that front. yaaaaaaaay. it’s really surreal. i still feel as clueless as i did when i was 25. actually no. when i was 25, i didn’t know I was clueless. now, i know. and my daughter tells me all the time how I “don’t understand” — i do understand, but i have to be a parent. i think parenting might be easier if i really didn’t understand how she feels, do you get what i mean? loved this post!

    • Jenna April 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Melissa, I’m sure you’re not clueless! Don’t be silly 🙂 After all, our old age wisdom and experience are some of the few things we can hold onto, isn’t it?

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag April 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    also, i don’t think a single sentence i wrote made any kind of grammatical sense, so sorry! 🙂

  • Sora April 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Oh my, I did not even think of the hormonal changes on opposite sides of the spectrum. It is definitely going to be fun times for my husband! The 40s have definitely brought a renewed perspective on life — child-raising, career and the unknown. It’s a little overwhelming, but I definitely feel like this era has brought clarity to the real priorities in life like having enough, raising healthy kids and helping them to have a somewhat supported future. I know that when we elect a president that is younger than us — that will absolutely be when everyone will seem younger than us!

    • Jenna April 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Yeah, I actually thought about that when Obama was elected because he really isn’t all that much older than me, not like past presidents. That kinda hit hard.

  • lena April 12, 2014 at 7:23 am

    I loved this post in a million ways and want to respond more thoughtfully, but for now am distracted by your gorgeous lip color, which is the tone I have sought for years and years. Would you mind sharing what it is? Beautiful photo!

    • Jenna April 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      Hi Lena! I don’t remember exactly what I’m wearing there, but it might be a lipstick that I’ve had for a while that may not be made anymore (too bad). It’s Chanel in Gladiator and it was a total impulse buy at one of the duty free shops while waiting for our airplane. I think I’ve bought a total of 4 tubes of lipsticks in the past 5 years, ha!

  • Isabelle April 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    So true… Being the mother of 3 girls and approaching 40, I feel exactly like you right now.Thank you for this post Jenna. My oldest, aged 11, is almost a teenager now and sometimes she makes me fell.. well.. not that young anymore!. I hope that I will always stay confident and open minded, which I think is one of the keys

  • Diane April 19, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    you have a beautiful way with words and expressing your thoughts….I’m in my 60s and still think I’m much younger (well, most of the time anyway). thanks for sharing. and I love this photo of you and Miss C all grown up!