The Dilemmas of Being a Woman of a Certain Age


My friends tell me that now I have reached the stage of life that can be best described by the French saying "une femme d'un certain age" (a woman of a certain age). I suppose this means I can no longer wear mini skirts and short-shorts without looking ridiculous.

It's no wonder, after turning 67 last August, that I'm having problems. Not only now do I have to count calories and grams of fat and watch my cholesterol level, but I also have to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day, exercise 3 to 5 times a week and mull over the decision of whether surgery is a viable solution to removing the cellulite on the outside of each of my thighs.

It's a wonder I have time to brush my teeth, much less floss and use mouthwash, after every meal and before bed, as 9 out of 10 dentists recommend.

For the first time in my life I have no children under the age of 30. For the first time in my life, I have as many grandchildren as children. I had envisioned leisurely-paced days filled with my cooking sumptuous (or at least edible) meals, reading mind-expanding books and never, ever, being rushed, hassled or tired.

But, I am tired. I'm tired of trying to figure out if I'm too old for patterned tights and form-fitting leather skirts, but too young for support hose. Am I too old for those snappy new suits with waist cinching jackets or do I need to resign myself to shapeless dresses in soft pastel florals?

My coveted antique pieces of jewelry handed down from my maternal grandmother are no longer looking eclectic with my outfits and demeanor but rather as though they belong with the rest of me. And it's been a long time since I've been described as a "sexy dish" and a "real looker." Now I'm hearing that I'm "attractive," "interesting" and, heaven forbid, "a nice person." UGH!

I now get humiliating rectal exams along with the already humiliating internal exams annually at my friendly OB-GYN office. And if that's not bad enough, now I also must submit myself to being scrunched and squeezed in the most personal places during my must-have-yearly mammogram. Jane Fonda's body looks better than it ever did and mine looks like it's been run over by a steam roller. Am I suppose to be low-impact aerobicizing, yoga-ing, jogging or simply stretching?

And if I did as the experts recommend, which is to do what feels right, why would I still feel guilty if I just crawled into bed with a good book and peanut butter crackers and forgot the whole thing?

I'm tired. I'm tired of trying to figure out what changes are inevitable and what changes can be modified. I don't want to hear that I now have a tendency toward extra pounds if I don't learn how
to outsmart calories. I don't want to have to choose between my face looking good or my figure looking good. They are both not that great to begin with.

At age 25, I finally adjusted to not being carded anymore, but now is it too much to expect an occasional look of surprise when I tell someone I have two grandchildren old enough to read fluently? Lately, more often than not, I'm met with looks of surprise when I tell someone I still have a child in his early 30s.

I am tired. I'm tired of reading articles about "super sex after 60," "the stop-cellulite diet" and "anti-aging beauty tips and secrets." I'm even tired of writing about being over 60 and sensational.

I think I will graciously accept being "une femme d'un certain age," drink a little more wine, celebrate a little more often and just get on with it.