I Believe That’s Meant For Someone Younger….

I was watching the Super Bowl last night with some friends, and like many people who aren’t that big on football, I was paying much more attention to the commercials that I was to the actual game.  Many of them were good, but one thing was quickly clear:  as a middle-aged woman, I was not the target audience for most of the ads.  Our society is focused on youth, and my youth left me a long time ago and has no plans to return.

Being middle aged in a youth-obsessed culture can be a bit strange at times, and sometimes it’s hard not to feel somewhat irrelevant. I don’t often see women my age in magazine ads, even the ones selling skin creams and anti-aging serums.  Middle aged women are rarely the main character in television shows or movies, since there again, the target audience is usually the twenty to thirty-year old age group.  There’s just no getting around the fact that our society focuses most of its attention on the young in body rather than those of us who are simply young at heart.

But that lack of attention can also be a good thing.  When I was younger, I knew that people tended to notice what I looked like, and more often than not, the attention made me feel self-conscious and awkward.  I pretty much assumed I would be judged harshly if I wore something that wasn’t stylish or flattering on me.  Now, I feel free to wear what I want, figuring most people aren’t going to notice much one way or the other.   If it’s cold out, you can bet I’m wearing warm socks, even with ankle pants and flats.  (Although I do try to coordinate the colors.)

Of course middle aged women don’t expect people our own age, especially our spouses, to ignore us now that we’re no longer young.  They’re in the same boat, so they know that hiding within our aging bodies is the same youthful spirit we’ve always had.  We just don’t have to worry about them judging our looks, partly because they understand, but mostly because they haven’t seen us clearly for years.  Fading eyesight can be a good thing.

A Mid-Century Life

I was watching the show “House Hunters” on HGTV the other morning, and the young couple trying to select their new home ended up choosing what was referred to as a “mid-century house” because it had been built in the 1950s.  Which is, of course, the exact same decade in which I was born.  As soon as they bought the house, the couple began a full-scale rehab to bring the incredibly “old” house “up-to-date.”  Needless to say, I turned off the TV.

I’m used to thinking of myself as middle-aged, and even as the tail-end of the Baby Boomer generation.  But mid-century?  That just sounds so old!  Yet there’s no getting around the fact that I came into this world in the late 1950s, over half a century ago, and a completely different era.

When I was a young child, our family had only one car.  We were luckier than most of our neighbors in that my father took the bus to work most days, thereby leaving my mother with a car to use when she needed to go somewhere.  She spent a lot of her time driving not only my sisters and me around, but often the neighbors as well.  I remember many trips to the zoo with my mother and her two friends, Peggy and Rosemary, in the front seat, each with a baby in her lap.  The older children, and there were usually at least seven of us, were stuffed into the back seat.  No one had ever heard of car seats or even seat belts for children back then.

When I was in first grade, the teacher once asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up.  The boys gave a variety of answers–policeman, doctor, lawyer, truck driver, etc.–but each of the girls answered either teacher or nurse.  As far as we knew, those were the only two choices available to us.  We also wore dresses or skirts to school each day.  Girls weren’t allowed to wear pants, which always made swinging around the monkey bars at recess without showing off our underwear a bit  of a challenge.  Television sets were black and white, and had about four channels which only worked when the antennae on top were placed just so.

When I think back on my early years, I have to realize that it was indeed a long time ago and a very different world from the one I live in now.  So maybe it isn’t such a mystery why I sometimes feel just a little bit like a stranger in a foreign land.  Adjusting to change is a natural part of life, but dang!  Women in my generation have adjusted to more than our fair share, even when most of the changes have been for the good.    So I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little patience and consideration as we cope with it all.  And by the time we reach the full-century mark, we’re going to be needing a LOT of patience and consideration.  Consider yourselves warned.