Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms takes your questions, gives advice and shares solutions. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today with this question:
Now that my child is getting old enough to take care of himself, it seems like my own body is falling apart. Is this what they call middle age?
Jan Katz-Kellogg: I distinctly remember one time when I was 40 and my son was two. I was being his "horse," plunking around on all fours throughout the house for about half an hour and when I had great difficulty standing upright, I thought, "Now I know why most women have children in their 20s!"
I didn’t have a clue at the time how physically challenging the next 14 years would be. I came from a family of girls and while I was a tomboy at an early age, I was totally unprepared for the physical stamina and endurance necessary to raise a boy.
Boys play rough; and as a mom, you are simply required to learn to get in the dirt, play with trucks and play air hockey as viciously as possible. Then there are the years of late night hours tending a sick child, the trips to and from doctors, school, games and activities. Eventually, all of those wonderful memories and actions begin taking a toll on our aging selves.
While insisting on providing healthy foods for our family, we neglect our own diets. The pounds creep up. Worries begin to appear on our faces in the form of ever-deepening lines. A degenerating disk here, bad knees there and voila! Here we are. Hello Middle Age. If we were in the military, we probably would have earned a few medals for these injuries.
The older I get, the more I feel a need to come to terms with my middle age. Actually I have to, because there aren’t enough cosmetics, medications or surgeries to stop what seems to be a faster and faster process. This is what I am coming to adopt as my mantra:
I have earned my pounds and wrinkles. The bad knees and back problems were derived from lifting and carrying precious cargo (coupled with a few bad genes). For the first time in my life, I really don’t care how I look to anyone else in a bathing suit. Don’t get me wrong, I am still vain, and I still like to go to the beach. I am just finally old enough or confident enough not to feel like I have to suck my stomach the entire time. I can actually wear a bathing suit now and focus on something else simultaneously, something I would never have been capable of in my previous life.
So there. I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.
Kim Koch: I once was a super hero. I have the battle cape to prove it; even if only in my own mind, it still exists.
I was the kind of mom that when my son drew my picture in the elementary school years, I was always smiling, looking fashionable in his eyes. He used four different crayons to explain the natural colors in my very curly hair, with the brightest blue he could find for my eyes.
I could swim, play and coach soccer, whip up 30 minute meals in 20 minutes, work a full time job and still drop him off and pick him up from school, baseball, basketball and music lessons with some help from his dad and pop.
Our vehicles were always clean and filled with various friends, jetting from one cool experience to the next. We rode dirt bikes, impressing each other with our insane skills on pro courses. When we crashed, we would luckily get back up, brush one or the other off and do it again.
Lots of smiles and love were shared. Many hours were spent studying together or at local music stores.
After the young death of my mom, debilitating sports injuries to myself and family members, the near death of my dad and the fight and challenges to keep him alive, my vehicles and house weren’t as clean anymore.
One day I walked outside in one of my gray t-shirts when a childhood friend of mine dropped in. As I approached him, he looked at me with concern and said, “Kim, maybe you shouldn’t wear that color.” I was like, “What?” He said, “It makes your hair grayer and your eyes match.” I found that champagne blond makes me feel younger and my eyes look blue again, some days.
Middle school and high school are all a blur; so much was fought for and accomplished. The wrinkles got deeper. I started gaining weight. I figured it was because I was roadie mom, in transit and stressed. It got to where one week a month I could hardly hold my eyes open; I had never felt so tired in my life.
I went to the lady parts doctor, and it was confirmed—my uterus had revolted. Sadly, I do not have a check engine light installed on me, I went down hard. My days of creation of life are over, and I am doing my best to ask of my son, not to make me a granny quite yet. Peri-menopause may get me out of trouble in a court of law; don't mess with me when my testosterone levels are high.
I keep tearing tendons; I need to lose forty pounds. I should avoid caffeine, sugar and the delicious Mexican restaurant up the road. For now, I take low dose aspirin, a multivitamin and try to eat cheerios every morning before I start drinking the half-caf coffee.
If I would have listened to my granny, I would be in my condo in Buckhead, wearing designer clothing and very feminine, just like she was. I would not have the potential for skin cancer from sun exposure. My hands and feet would be hydrated at all times, and my legs would be very shapely due to wearing a heel that was at least 2 inches in height. I wonder if my uterus would still love me then?