Over the Hill and Far Away… a mid-life crisis

FFS. I’ve burnt my scalp. With a peroxide mix of chemicals designed to dye my almost black hair auburn. I’m now a funky pie-bald orange/dark brown and burnt scalp.

Thing is – I am just so frustratingly restless.

I signed up for another Masters degree; I’m dieting (a first for me – though I’ve so far shed 10lbs); I’ve stopped smoking (ok, a 19th attempt for me) and I’m actually exercising (if you count a quick 30 mins jaunt around the river most nights).

Is this my mid-life crisis?

My Meg triggered whatever this is. She said – in response to hearing I was joining her at University (only part-time, mind): For fuck sake Mum. You’ve had your time. You’re too old for this. You’re finishing – not starting.

Admittedly she retracted it all when she saw the look on my face. But I think the youthfully careless damage was done. The final veil between me and being an oldie was torn down and trampled on. I’ve been staring being over the hill straight in the eye ever since.

Sometimes our adult child just make us feel like an irrelevance. An anachronism. A coffin-dodger on the slippery slope to oblivion…

And yet… and yet – more than one pal tells me it’s a liberation – being freed from the tyranny of ‘caring about appearance’ and ‘striving to be more than you are’. One has ditched the dye and gone silver white; has eaten and drunk her body weight in chocolate and good wine – and embraced elastic-waisted lycra pants and tent-like tunics with joy. Another threw out the make-up; has become welded to her Birkenstocks (a vice I understand) and attracts alarmed stares by going barefoot even on the coldest, wettest days – an antidote to her hot flushes, she says.

Should I….? Will I….?

But no. No. NO.

I am not going gentle into that good night.

Megan: your Ma isn’t finished yet 😉

14 thoughts on “Over the Hill and Far Away… a mid-life crisis

  1. Yvonne you have me smiling. Go do the Masters. I'm sure Meg realises who you are and is proud of it. But daughters can cut to the bone. I've had clothes nicked from me by mine who says, They're too young for you anyway Mum. And a younger friend who kindly said, Well he's too young for you when I was checking out a bloke. I admit 50 is frightening but there are degrees of that awful 'liberation' and I won't be wearing a tent. Stop smoking girl, this is a battle I want you to win, health is power, stamina and we're gonna need it.

    Oh I'm not finished yet either! I want new love, new words, new books published! Xcat

  2. Haha Helen. Oh yes – she really doesn't want me at the school gates.
    Which reminds me – such beautiful timing – that I didn't want my own Mother at the school gates either.
    And now I'm laughing out loud. Karmic retribution indeed!!
    My thanks, though, for the encouragement. I've had my short pause – but really, I am too bloody-minded not to 'go for it'!!

  3. Can't they just!! I've a few scores on my bones from her lacerating tongue!
    It's a funny old thing though – isn't it – the ageing process…
    I really was convinced that I wouldn't be 'one of those folk who fret over lost 'youth''… So I am truly dismayed that all I've done is just create my own version of 'fretting over what's lost'…

    Some of this is about kids growing up and about me negotiating a new role for myself.
    Some of it is about the sudden realisation that life is a finite resource – and I've used up rather a lot already…
    And some (from the shallow me) is about the diminishment and change of physical appearance – the odd grey hair and wrinkle – the loss of whatever sheen of youthfulness I had (and I was – forgive me for immodesty – a bit of a head-turner)…

    It's all good. I'll cope!

    The smoking is gone Cat. It's from a me I don't recognise. The last 2 or 3 years of smoking have been habit driven – there was no pleasure in it (if there ever was!). And I feel better for giving up.

    Yip, you and I are most certainly NOT finished!!


    PS When's 'Pelt' out? Can I buy it yet??

  4. I think Meg's stand is overstated but fair in sentiment.

    I mean you've never struck me as someone who's waiting to die but, I think it's fair for kids to try and push their elders out of the way.

    Of course, I grew up in the 80's with Babyboomers who refused to grow up so…I'm a bit warped on the subject.

    On the matter of looks and fitness, the middle aged woman is in the cat bird seat. Still looks good, is less insecure about it…confident and best of all, knows what to do with it.

    They make grown and sexy clothes.

    Youth is overrated in so many ways.

  5. Your wife's a lucky woman e.f. 😉

    This is my karmic retribution – Meg dismisses me and my old Mam claims I did (do!) exactly the same to her…

    It's just the order of things, isn't it.

    And you're spot on with the 'youth is overrated' – because no matter my irritation with ageing, I wouldn't want to be '20' again.


  6. I'm about to break all the rules that FWKTM taught me about commenting in such circumstances.

    It's all about how you feel about yourself. If you feel better dyeing your hair and losing weight then do it. If you don't then don't do it. If you'll feel happier doing your Masters then do it for the sheer enjoyment. If you won't then don't.

    I'm glad that you've stopped smoking. Too many friends are now in a parlous state because of strokes. That scares me as much as Alzheimer's Disease.

    At 90 my Mum looked really good. Why? She was happy in her own skin.

  7. And that is the simple truth G.B. There is nothing complicated about it really – it comes down to being happy in your own skin. I've not always managed that for one reason or another. But I'm closer now than I was at 20 or 30 or even 40.
    Tell you what though – dieting is a right pain! And what I don't get is how it can take a few days to put a stone on – but weeks and weeks of effort to get it back off again. Doh!

  8. Just come in for my morning coffee (without a snack!). I've had a week with no alcohol, no snacks and regular smaller meals (not because I was trying to lose weight!) and I've lost over a kilo quite unintentionally. Going to the gym in NZ to strengthen my leg muscles because of my failing knee saw me lose 3 kilos in 4 or 5 months as a bonus. I'm wondering how long it will be before people tell me I'm looking too thin and unwell. And when I have another drink will it go straight to my waist? Qui sait?

  9. Oh go full force for the Masters Yvonne and enjoy every minute of it.

    I thought ageing was tough, and it is, but then I decided oh sod it and started a new career as a full time writer. I could do this because my daughter was grown up so I no longer had to worry so much about earning money. And now, two years on, my first novel is going to be published.

    So re-invention does work. And it feels good too. xx

  10. You go for it, Yvonne and ignore any negative comments. As one who did a second academic training in her 40s and started a second career in her 50s after redundancy, I'm here to tell you that middle age is great and youth vastly over-rated. 🙂

    Three cheers for the stopping smoking. I gave up many years ago now and have never regretted it. I should probably go on a diet and lose at least a stone, but am happy in my skin and not willing to be miserable at my age. 🙂

  11. Ahh, a few months to wait I'm afraid Yvonne. My publishers are Head of Zeus, a great new imprint, and the book is scheduled for publication in January 2014.

    I'll be published under the name Jane Lythell (Lythell is my mum's maiden name).

    Of course you will get a signed copy. In fact I plan a visit to Scotland some time in 2014 to promote the book. These days authors are expected to do a lot of the marketing, which is fine by me.

    I would love to meet you my favourite blogger. xx

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