Apparently I’m that middle aged lady.

I completed a class in Museum Education last week, and this week I start guitar lessons. The former I undertook for professional reasons (any museum education department heads out there looking for a contract writer?); the latter is a Mother’s Day present and, not coincidentally, a thing I’ve kind of wanted to do for years. All of this class-taking has also served to remind me that I’ve been planning (also for years) to take a carpentry class once the kids achieved an advanced enough age that me adding a commitment to my days wouldn’t feel like torture, and that furthermore, I not long ago decided that after carpentry would come knitting. So. The kids having achieved that age, I appear to have some plans to make.

But also, and for the purposes of this post, there’s this: Apparently I’m now that middle-aged lady about whom people think “Wow, look at her – guitar! Carpentry! That’s so cool! She’s not stopping! Rock on!” Etc.

And I kind of hate that.

Because the truth is that I’m just carrying on being me. I didn’t change appreciably when I crossed the 40 year mark, but rather, in a very real way, became more me.

I’m more comfortable in my skin and with my little plans, more able to recognize which ideas I’ll follow through on and which aren’t happening. There’s nothing remarkable about me taking up guitar or tool box — in fact, knitting is the odd-one-out here. (In a former online life, I had a friend named jemimapuddleduck who said there was something wonderful about being able to take what amounted to a long piece of sting and make an article of clothing out of it. That sold me).

I’ve resisted being pigeon-holed my whole life, resisted having people tell me who I am, and what it means — I’ve even gone so far as to withhold information in order to avoid the conclusion-jumping of others. So me being annoyed by these expectations of middle-aged women is, in fact, further evidence of the fact that I’m just, you know: Carrying on.

And as long as I’m here: It’s my intention to someday be old, and it’s also really annoying when the elderly are described as “cute,” by virtue of their elderly-ness (you know: falling in love, discovering Twitter, standing up for one’s political rights — it’s so adorable! When your hair is gray), or, alternatively, presumed saintly for the same reason (else why would it be news that the perp in some dastardly act was a “grandmother of three”? Hmmmm?).

Here are the two things that are largely (though far from exclusively) universal about the aging process: The mechanism that is the human body slows down, and the data storage device that is the human brain gets fuller.

Everything else is just people being people.

And here’s another thing I’ve been my whole life: A curmudgeon. Only now people probably chalk it up to age.

Daggnabbit.

11 Comments

  1. Want2No

     /  June 11, 2012

    40 is the new 35.

  2. corkingiron

     /  June 11, 2012

    Make sure you keep the picture you’ve used to indicate your interest in a carpentry course. Once you’ve finished the course, come back and look at it. You will find it amusing. Good luck with the guitar course. Your fingers will hurt for a while. And a guitar – playin’ house framin’ curmudgeonly grandma is what every grandchild secretly wishes for!

  3. Lisa

     /  June 11, 2012

    Thank you! There’s an elderly woman who frequently bikes near my office. Every time my (younger) co-worker sees her, she comments on how “cute” she is. It drives me CRAZY! Thank you for stating the obvious. There aint nothing cute about it. She’s just doing what she’s doing. No judgement necessary.

  4. CitizenE

     /  June 11, 2012

    So if you are “middle aged” that is at your mean age, you’ll live till you are 94. One thing I never got about my generation, older than yours, is why everyone started feeling old at 30. Look, aging is what we do. In our youth dominated culture, a lot of this has had to do with advertising. I want in the nicest possible way to say to you: you are still only middle-aged, just a decade beyond the end of your so called prime, but even if you were as old as I am, so the f what? The need to be perennially hip? Kids are going to have to work for 4 decades to catch up with me, even if I have no idea who the latest pop star is. Listening to my teenage granddaughter accuse me of being anachronistic when talking to her about thousands year old philosophies makes me profoundly aware of how young she is. Do you really want to be a teenager still? Someone in their 20s? Yes the decade of the 30s is exciting, and being in your forties, the beginning of mastery, but you’re gonna get old or die young: live with it. This spring I did a landscape job that I did not believe I was still capable of; I do not take for granted that many springs like that ahead, and I was proud of myself. One of the good things about getting past a certain age is who gives a rat’s ass what other people’s expectations are?

  5. MsJo

     /  June 11, 2012

    I’m with you on this one (- mostly). In my forties I got my black belt, I began planting an organic kitchen garden, I learned a whole new way to cook, I became a Crossfitter and have real muscles for the first time. All this and more at a wonderful time where I can choose who I am after 20 + years of being the middle of the sandwich (also rewarding). Most of my life, however, I met others’ expectations — so I do get a thrill when a young’un is amazed when I take a man down when sparring or when I lift over 100 lbs or when I bring the most succulent salad in to share. I kind of like that I’m altering their expectations of “middle aged” and I plan to keep on being myself. It is also my intention to someday be old – and I look forward to seeing what I am doing then!

  6. Katryzna

     /  June 11, 2012

    I sort of love “that middle age lady,” though. My friends from college rock. They are so much cooler in their 40’s than they were in their 20’s. Most of them are much more confident and care a lot less about what people think. They’re out there trying stuff that they would have never tried before, without caring if they suck at it or not. They’re taking up tris and marathons and ballet and new careers and God and kickboxing and discovering horse racing and all sorts of stuff. They’re both tough and compassionate. Women in their 40’s rock.

  7. Thistle313

     /  June 13, 2012

    Ha! I just started piano lessons — at 58 no less. Best part? My first piece is by J.S. Bach — no Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star for me.