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On turning 45: a letter to young women

February 17, 2012

I’m 45 today.

For years, I’ve had this post trying to work itself out in my head. Today I decided “I am going to write that damn post.”

See, it all started in the grocery store.

On the same night, in the same grocery store I heard two conversations that, when taken together, made me laugh.

The first was a young woman wondering what some man saw in a woman who was older and the second was an older woman wondering the same about what some (presumably other) man saw in some (presumably other) younger woman.

I think we can all figure out the allure of youth. But about the older women?

All you twenty-somethings? You know all those things you wish you were?

We are.

You know how you wish you knew what your career was going to be? How you wish you were comfortable in your own body? How you wish someone would notice that you’re not just beautiful? You know how you wish your financial situation would settle out? You know how you wish that you knew how to manage various situations at work and at home? You know how you wish you knew how to make a dinner that makes people melt into a puddle? And that you had all the equipment you needed to do so? You know how you wish you were the one in charge at work? That you could afford those fabulous, fabulous shoes? You know how you wish that you would stop reacting to every little thing that anyone says to you? You know how you wish that you had more confidence in your opinions and in your abilities? You know how you wish you knew, really knew, who you are?

We are. We do. We can.

There is a lot to be said for youth. I love being 45 but there are days when I’d give Dustmop and Barky-Dog (and, possibly, my netbook AND my Nook) for my 23-year-old body back. Even if I diet and exercise for hours a day, I’m never going to have that. I can look pretty fucking good, (if I do all that, which I don’t) but I’m never going to look 23. I wouldn’t even consider trying to compete for attention with a 23-year-old. If the person wants young, there is nothing I can do about it

On the other hand, as an exceptionally smart butch woman told me, there are advantages to dating older women.

We’re confident. I do not mean cocky masquerading as confidence. Confidence comes from feeling good about who you are and before you can do THAT, you have to know who you are. Confidence means that we aren’t going to freak the fuck out if you want to watch football with your friends. It means that every woman who comes along isn’t a potential rival. It means that we relax.

Being confident and comfortable in one’s own skin also translates into much better sex. It’s pretty hard to get to orgasm if you’re worried that you look weird or that you smell funny or whatever. By the time you’re in your 40s you know that everyone looks weird when they’re having sex and sometimes things don’t smell like roses. We don’t care. We also know our own bodies and how to give ourselves pleasure, therefore we can tell you what works for us. We are more willing to try things because we care far less about what our partner might be thinking.

We’re fun to date (or be married to) because we’ll try things. By “try things” I mean, like, we’ll go rollerblading even if we’ve never been or we’ll go to a concert of someone we’ve never heard of or we’ll play basketball with someone’s children because we are long past the phase of “how will I look when I do that?” and “what will they think of me?” I’ll play basketball with rugrats even though I suck because it’s fun. (I do, however, draw the line at bowling. I just hate it.) [Okay, rollerblading probably isn’t the best example. I have the balance of a banana and I am scared witless of breaking a hip {I KNOW. Shut UP.} so no rollerblading for me. But you get the idea.]

To quote the previously-mentioned friend (because I *never* say this word), older women “have their shit together.”

Generally speaking, you don’t see older women flashing their breasts on Girls Gone Wild. Even those of us who have had implants, and whose breasts look freaking fabulous, have better sense than that. (No, I have not had implants.) Generally speaking, we don’t have the drama that seems to be permanently attached to younger women’s lives. We pay our bills, we clean our house, we attend to the business of our lives, so we have far less daily-life drama.

We do not care what our mothers think.

I’m not going to lie to you, young women. There are times when all of the above is true. There are times when none of it is. However, we know that we’re going to get back to our equilibrium. Whatever upset is going on isn’t permanent and we’re going to be okay. I found out on Wednesday that I was out of a job. It was upsetting and I spent the day being pathetic, but I *know* it will turn out okay because I have options. And skills. And experience. So, I’ll get a new job. I’ll be back to center soon.

Enjoy being young. It’s a wonderful time of your life. Wear short skirts or blue hair, my young femmes. My young butches, wear your skater clothes or your board shorts. Either of you: those pajamas in public? Must be a thing of the past, the second you graduate from college. Do impulsive, impetuous things so you have good stories to tell when you’re older. Have fun. Work hard, but don’t always work. Don’t get to be 40 and look back on your life and wish you’d had more fun.

I was a Wild Child. I did things I do not recommend that you do. I make jokes that if I could have MAJORED in weed, women & whisky, I’d have graduated summa cum laude. I drank, I did some drugs, I went out at least 3 nights a week. I tended bar and flirted with everyone. I had ill-advised sex. I made scenes. I *caused* scenes. I called off work because I was still too high to think about slinging Big Gulps all day. I bet boys I could drink more shots than they could. [For the curious: most of the time, yes.] I made impromptu trips to hither and yon in an AMC Concord with a soup-can as a muffler. [I told you – I come from a long line of moonshine-runnin’ rednecks. That was a family member’s idea of a car repair. The funny thing? I didn’t even notice for MONTHS.]

So my young friends, do stuff. Have things to look back and laugh about. [For the records, those are often not the things you THINK you’ll be laughing at! I was horrified by the soup-can muffler at the time, once I figured it out, but now? OMG. Really?] Make mistakes now. They are easier to shake off.

But …..

Don’t fear getting older – anticipate it! You have a lot to look forward to. Being a grown up is fabulous, even on days when you don’t think you even remember how to spell the word fabulous.

I promise.

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From → Barbara Bits

15 Comments
  1. Thanks for this post. Of course I already know most of these things, but on my 43rd birthday I needed the reminder.

  2. Love this! You know how hard my 45th birthday was for me, so I totally commend you for even getting out of bed this morning. I was absolutely certain that I was going to be single and unlovable for the rest of my life and look at me now, two years later, married to the love of my life. Who woulda thunk it?

    Whenever I think about going back and doing it all over again, knowing what I know now? Never. Not in a million years. The reason? Because I’d be less impetuous and more responsible and I’d never have any fun. Sure I’d make a gazillion less mistakes and my life would be far easier with so much less drama. I’d skip the horrid relationship angst, etc. but I still stand by my mantra that every path I chose brought be to where I am today and I am (most of the time) a strong, independent, sexy woman who is finally coming into her own with a whole life still left to live. Live out loud. That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it.

    Yay for being older and absolutely fabulous! Happy Birthday, darlin’! ❤

    • Let’s just hope I follow suit and fall in love soon. 🙂 I’m good if I don’t, but I sure would like to.

  3. missterioso permalink

    *cheeksmooch* Amen and amen! Now you make me want to go and holler about this in a post of my own…

  4. Kaitlin permalink

    First, happy birthday!

    Second, this was perfect. I partially fall into that young person crowd (maybe?) and I always anticipate getting older. I’m excited to find a gray hair (when will that happen?) and I’m anxious to see what the future holds. But I’m also enjoying the right now.

    Kudos!

    • Thanks, Kaitlin! You definitely fall into the younger person crowd. I’m glad you’re enjoying the now AND looking forward to the future. I know your future is going to be filled with so much love and joy and wonderful. I’m glad you liked the post.

  5. As a woman within spitting distance of 50 – I adored this article 🙂 Thank you.

  6. Happy Birthday! YEAH! I’ll be 45 this year, and I’ll tell you what–I do sometimes miss the 25-year-old body, but I sure don’t miss those days when I didn’t know WTF. I will, however, give my 25-year-old self a HUGE shout-out because she got me where I am today. So she may not have known WTF, but she clearly figured it out. Go, younger self! And hope you’re still enjoying the ride, now that we hit our 40s. 😀

    Great post. Really appreciated it! Hope you have a rockin’ birthday!

  7. So wonderfully true. My thirties have been so much better than my twenties, and I’m happier and more confident. I’m looking forward to my forties.

  8. I love this. I loved turning thirty, and think forty will be equally awesome!

  9. Barb Thomas permalink

    Amen! As a butch that has come to the knowledge throughout my memory making years and a 13 yr relationship with a much younger woman, older women are the cream of the crop! Beauty is nice. And every butch knows a femme wants her butch to know how beautiful she is, but older femmes want you to also know the beauty inside them. I believe that need comes with age. I know that a femme can see my appreciation and love of her looks by my eeactions and expressions. But its those small things you do throughout the day that make each others hearts grow closer. I love a confident, forth coming and secure women. Only age can give me that kind of women. Younger women need constant appraisal and older woman will just say it like it is. Lol! I’m turning 45 this year and I’m starting over after this 13 yr trainwreck, and believe me. After I’ve taken a little respite I will not be dating anyone under 40! Lol! I appreciate your candid blog, especially coming from a femmes view. It’s refreshing to known I’m not the only one with this realization!

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