I don’t know if it’s a full moon, or if it’s just that I feel particularly tired lately from the never ending early mornings (thank you 5am sunrises that make young children think it’s the middle of the day), or if it’s just that I’m 38 and noticing changes in myself that are probably just part and parcel of being 38.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like a definite change is taking place. I hear myself saying certain things that make me sound and feel old, or dressing in clothes that are more about how comfy they are much more so over how they look – I mean I’ve always preferred comfort over style anyway, that’s just me, but I think it’s getting worse.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t worn my pyjamas to Tesco or anything yet so there’s still a shred of hope but there’s definitely changes afoot…!
Little things keep happening. Or, maybe it’s only now that I’m noticing them.
One example – I have a clear memory from years ago. I was in my early twenties probably, walking through an M&S store and thinking… why do all these clothes need to be so old looking? Like, who shops here? My youthful self concluded it was mainly a shop for granny-pants, sensible shoes, elasticated trousers and nice snuggly cardigans.
Fast forward 15 years or so and M&S is possibly my favourite shop.
There I was recently looking at a top in there, admiring it and debating over how I could justify buying it when I was supposed to be getting clothes for the kids, and it hit me. I looked around, seeing lots of lovely things. I strolled through the food section thinking to myself ‘ I never met a piece of food from M&S that I didn’t like’. I browsed through their home section, wanting half of the cushions and throws, feeling how soft the duvet covers were and was just thinking ridiculous things like ‘oh we could do with a new Egyptian cotton bathmat’ when it hit me. I started admiring quality of the things rather than the bargain price or how nice it looked.
Thinking things like ‘that’ll wash well’.
Either M&S got much cooler, or I got much older.
I’ll be honest, it has been a bit of a shock recently to discover these things about myself. I’m now the type of woman, mid (ok, ok, late) thirties, who eyes up soft duvet covers as a nice way to treat herself. I look at myself in the mirror sometimes and notice lines around my eyes, or actually I saw myself in a photo at the weekend with Gavin, and all I could see were the smile-lines around my eyes and I thought – who on earth is she and what did she do with line-free Jen?
How did it happen so quickly? Does it happen so out of nowhere to everyone?
Ok a bit of perspective here, I know I’m hardly over the hill, I mean it’s fair to say that I’m still very much on my way up the hill, the peak of the hill is still a dot to me… I’m not old! But all of a sudden I feel myself transitioning into this middle age sort of territory where I’m thinking to myself, what is that song and why are they playing it again for the hundredth time? Or saying things like ‘when I was your age I… ‘ or only saying to someone last week who was going to a concert that started at 7.30 ‘ ah that’s a great time for a concert to start, you’ll be home nice and early at a good hour’..!
What?! Morto for the long gone twenties Jen.
Look it’s not as if I was always the height of fashion, or the most glamorous person in the room, or the wildest person at a party. But I definitely was able to stay up late, and actually wanted to. I definitely was able to have more than one large drink and not have it go straight to my head.. and wanted to. I absolutely knew every song in the charts … I mean, are there even charts anymore?
See?! Even that sentence makes me feel ancient!
Having kids doesn’t help matters. Rian wastes no time in pointing out my squishiness, or a line on my forehead (which sadly I think I’m stuck with and if you look long enough at, makes me look permanently angry I think). If I happen to be going somewhere that requires an effort in my appearance, the two of them stare at me in confusion, not recognising me for a minute, and will say things like – what’s that on your face Mam? Meaning the makeup makes me look so unrecognisable to them from the non-make-up me. Are they so different? Clearly so.
Add to all this, Gavin turns 40 this year.
How am I suddenly married to a 40 year old?! (Sorry Gav!)
Other ways I notice my age is how I love listening to a digital station by Today FM which only plays 90s music. So comfortingly nostalgic. The other day it played the Sunscreen song (Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen by Baz Luhrmann) and I hadn’t heard it in years. It was released a year after I did my Leaving Cert and at the time I didn’t think too much of the lyrics one way or the other, but suddenly listening to them the other day I found myself thinking – yes! That’s so true! Lyrics like:
‘Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in twenty years you’ll look back at photos of yourself
And recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you
And how fabulous you really looked’.
Hands up – I had a moment. Ok – perspective again – it’s not like I’m 90. But that song is now 20 years old and I was 18 when I first heard it. I look back at photos of myself then, when I used to think I was SO overweight, when I used to hate my hair, when my skin was so clear and laugh-line free… and yet again I wonder – when did she go and when did 38 year old me replace her without me even noticing?!
Will I look back at my face now in another twenty years when I’m almost sixty ( holy crap ) and think the same thing?
Anyway. I can either get all nostalgic about it, or realise that the problem is not me, it’s M&S. They’ve definitely just upped their game.