Saturday, 26 June 2010

A Woman of a Certain Age. Or See You at Cybermummy?

I was born in the late hot summer of 1975. I have the scars to prove it. Cold metal forceps dug deep into baby soft flesh, tugging, pulling, splitting the skin. My poor mother. She was only nineteen.

Very soon I will be Thirty Five. And what I want to know is, how the hell did that happen? My eldest son will soon be twelve - is due to start secondary school in September - and still I don't feel so very much different from the young girl trying desperately to give off an air of sophisticated worldly wisdom in the hopes of fooling the circling predators on her own first day of secondary school.

I can remember once when I was about sixteen, standing in the open doorway of my best friends living room. I was leaning lazily with my head against the door frame, chewing in a carefully cultivated 'whatever' sort of manner on cola flavoured Hubba Bubba. Her mother (who can only have been about thirty two herself - younger than I am now) was watching a Tina Turner video. We were contemptuous, my friend and I. After a short discussion we came to the conclusion that Tina Turner was failing abysmally in her duty to "grow old gracefully." I couldn't for the life of me work out why my friends mother was so annoyed.

I keep waiting for the day to arrive when I feel like a proper grown up. Perhaps it will be the morning of my thirty fifth birthday. Perhaps that will be the day when I wake up and suddenly, doing the correct and responsible thing will have become second nature and I won't have to think about it anymore. I won't have to think to myself, "Hmmm, what would a responsible adult do in this situation? O.k. I'll try that then" because I will have stopped feeling like a beginner trapped in an experienced adults body. And just perhaps, on that fine morning, it will all start to feel a little less fraudulent. A little less of a confidence trick. Perhaps eh.

In the meantime though, it seems that there are a whole host of other things to do with the aging process that I should have been worrying about, only wasn't. A few recent happenings have conspired to make me begin to suspect that this is the case. The first was a conversation that I had with my friend and neighbour, a woman in her late twenties with three young children. She worked as a hairdresser before she had her kids and the other day she said to me ( while simultaneously flicking her long straightened hair over her shoulder) something along the lines of:
"Of course I'll just have to make the most of having my hair like this while I can still get away with it."
Me, in typically intelligent fashion: "What?"
Her: "Well you know... once you get to a certain age......

The second was my six year old son rolling his eyes at me in the car today and saying: "Not Lady Gaaaaagaaaaaa again mum. Can't we listen to some David Bowie?" Now I am not generally a lover of pop music but I do love Lady Gaga unashamedly. She's actually a very talented woman I think, a proper musician, and also she's a bit strange. What's not to like? But today, looking at my sons expression which seemed clearly to state that he considered it best just to humour me, it suddenly struck me that perhaps it really isn't appropriate for a nearly thirty five year old woman to be driving along with her stereo on a bit too loud singing Pokerface at the top of her voice. Perhaps my fellow villagers think me unseemly. Oh dear.

The third thing is all this talk of what to wear to Cybermummy. What to wear? I was going in the hope that somebody might be able to teach me how to work my bloody computer. And in anticipation of meeting some interesting, like minded women too of course. I hadn't given that much thought as to what I was going to wear. But here's the thing - amongst all this talk of what to wear, the main concern seems to be that one doesn't end up looking too "muttony", which I'm presuming is a derivative of the expression 'mutton dressed as lamb.' Now my every day get up tends to be a t-shirt and jeans tucked into a pair of slightly battered biker boots. It's comfortable, I like it, and it's probably what I would have worn to Cybermummy, only now of course I'm starting to worry whether it might not be a bit "muttony." It's definitely a bit scruffy. Perhaps I will find that I'm able to 'network' so much more successfully if I wear something.... well I don't know. Something else.

Of course I'm tempted just to say what a load of old bollocks. Mutton dressed as lamb is an appalling expression (is there an equivalent saying for men? Thought not.) But if I said that I wouldn't be being entirely honest, because the fact is I do care about how I come across to other people. So in the absence of a meet and greet photo post which I have noticed others putting up on their non-anonymous blogs in time for Cybermummy, I will simply say, on the day just look out for a woman who's completely inappropriately dressed and trying desperately to act her age. That'll be me.

;-) See you there.


  1. Great post - I still feel I'm in my very-early 20's. It's the age I'm stuck at in my head. I mentioned to someone the other day about a girl I work with 'oh she's my age' and then when I thought about it after, the girl I was talking about was 24 and I'll be hitting 30 this year. Sometimes I feel too young and too immature to be a mother (and going by my carnival entry that certainly proved true).
    I say sod it wear what you want to wear, I'm not going and I'd imagine if I was going i'd probably feel under pressure to look good so I completely understand everyone fretting but I think people should dress in what they usually wear, maybe show some of their personality?
    Can I just say your poor, poor, mother going through a tough time like that at such a young age - do you really still have scars on your head from the forceps?

  2. MOAM, Yes. I still have a small scar at the top of my forehead, but my mother says the original cut went almost up to the crown. I think I frightened the life out of her!

  3. I've got a decade on you and I still don't feel like a grown up. My MIL has also told me I'm too old for long hair. I wrote one of those posts 'Is someone going to told me when I'm too old for Converse' because it is a (albeit) minor concern of mine. I don't really set store of dressing for your age or give a hoot what anyone thinks but sometimes I think - should I really be wearing this now? What should a 45 year old be dressing like? Why do I feel like I'm not sure any more? I used to be so sure.

    I tried to ask the question on that post as to why everyone is so preoccupied with what they're wearing to cybermummy but only one person bit. I want to meet intelligent, like minded, interesting, fun, witty, women and I certainly wouldn't not talk or dismiss someone on the basis of what they're wearing. But maybe we just all want to come over at our best. I think I've long got over the tribal thing - of recognising like minded people by what clothes they're wearing like I did when I was a mod/punk/goth/new romantic.....

  4. I think that's right, that people want to come over at their best. Nothing wrong with that, I want to too. Still find all the obsessing over what to wear a bit depressing though.

  5. I think go with the bollocks thought. Your boots and jeans are not going to put anyone off talking to you I'm sure. And that outfit is going to look even more fantastic as you grow older.

    I dream fondly of the day when I'm even shorter than I am at present (picture little old woman in black, zigzagging up steep old stairs, sweeping, muttering at passersby). I plan to dye my hair toxic colours, take drugs which have terrible long-term effects and listen to the music of my middle age.

    By the way, how does going to a conference work in with being anonymous? Will they make you reveal which blog is yours?

  6. A suitable expression for men: spam dressed as beefcake? ;-)

    I think at 35 you are still young. 40 is the new 30 (I'm 41 in August and share your horror at how quickly that has come about - especially when I am still as immature as I was when I was 18) so therefore the 30's are the new 20's. Forget fashion (well, maybe not completely), dress is a way that is suitable to you - be individual. That way no-one can criticise you because you will be (as I am sure you are) incomparable. :-)

  7. fantastic post. I feel like someone playing at being a grown-up all the time and am always asking myself 'what would a proper adult do?'

    Maybe we're all like that?

    It is a bit depressing, this obsessing over what to wear but on the other hand, completely understandable. I think most people will be worried about what others think of them in the flesh, worried they don't measure up to their blog persona somehow or convinced that everyone else would be sophisticated stylish goddess - I know i would be.

  8. I went through a stage of worrying about the whole "what am I going to wear" thing. I suppose it is only natural that you want to make a good impression on people you haven't already met. However, my philosophy is now going to be that as long as it is reasonably clean and not too ripped I am going to wear what I feel comfortable in - there's no way I'm going to run out and buy a posh frock, for example, as I would just spend the whole time feeling self-conscious and awkward (not normally one for getting my legs out). I'm hoping it's going to be a little cooler than it has been so I can get away with a "jeans and a nice top" combo! If biker boots represents you, then go with that - people are there to meet the real you, I think people will notice if you try and be something you are not.

    As for age - I do think you get to a certain point where you mentally stop ageing. It's definitely more a state of mind in my book. My mother likes to recount a conversation with a 96-year old ex-neighbour (now sadly deceased), who used to say that she still felt like in her twenties inside. Every now and then, she would wake up in the morning and for a split second wonder who the wizened old lady in the mirror was!

  9. I am ONLY 33 (nearly), and I thought we were just young things. Now I'm panicking that maybe I should be thinking of myself as a grown-up.

    Nope, I'm not doing it. I'm not listening *fingers in ears* la la la la la I can't hear youuuuuu

  10. Yeah I'm ancient. I have almost a decade on you, and I still haven't grown up. I've bought houses and run businesses and had babies and moved around the world and yet I still feel as if I'm only 35! I think 35 is the age that you start to feel a little more 'grown up'. The point where you're no longer in your early thirties. As I said on Twitter today I think the appropriate attire for Cybermummy is a sense of humour, a dollop of humility and an open mind. That's what I'm wearing.

  11. Have to say the whole "what shall i wear to CyberMummy" thing really took me by surprise. I was not expecting it AT ALL from the bloggers I've met in person or even those I know just virtually. I'll turn up in whatever I grab clean from the washing pile when I pack on friday night before I hotfoot it across to London to stay with young glamorous friend who will probably drink me towards an early grave rendering any attempt to turn up on Sat morning looking half decent totally redundant. Wear the boots gorgeous, I'd expect nothing less than your indomitable individual style!

    Owe you an email, shall do writing of same later. Must go to shop now and buy self large vat of ice cream for dinner. Its been one of those days.

    MD xx

  12. You're only 35 - I remember being 35.

    What to wear to CyberMummy... hmmm. have you noticed my absence in this discussion. Whatever I can find that isn't filthy dirty and hopefully a pair of shoes... I'm still trying to get my head around the idea that people will have business cards. Clearly I won't, I have a big presentation to make on Friday - haven't time.

    There'll be quite a few of us there - I think we're all the same really. x

  13. I love this post, Gappy. I know what you mean about getting older but always feeling like that high school kid. Sometimes, I listen to music of the past, and I love reliving who I was (am). (I suppose this means I'm getting old, because I remember my mom doing the same.)

    And I agree with you that Lady Gaga is way way way talented.

    (BTW, if you subscribed to my blog in Google Reader, can you resubscribing to work with new site?)

  14. I'm sure you'll all have a grand time, no matter what you wear. I am glad, however, that I am not online much right now to hear all the clothing speculation. That would drive me round the bend. I purposely booked my weekend away for the same w/end as Cybermummy because I'm afraid that it might make my head explode otherwise! LOL.

    I hope you have a good time though, Gappy, and be yourself. My only regret about not going myself is that I won't get to meet you. :-)

  15. I just turned 44 at the weekend. Still don't feel like a grown up. When I look in the mirror sometimes I take a breath of air as I am reminded just how old I really am. As for the whole what should I wear to cybermummy business, I think people should just come in what they are comfortable in. If you don't feel like yourself then you won't act like yourself. Does that seem crazy?

  16. If there is one thing that annoys me it's hearing someone 10 years my junior thinking they are 'a woman of a certain age'

    as a proud and sexy 44 I would like to never feel grown up! never!

    I wear what I like, how I like and when I like, always have, always will. Age is a state of mind, and also is baloney!!

    wear a tiara and ballgown to Cybermummy - that'll show'em!

    and you are younger than me so Bllluuuurrrrp [sticks tongue out in suitably mature fashion]

  17. It worsens, when you become wonder how you became that age when you still feel like the awkward, insecure 16 year old you've always been. The outside doesn't coincide with the inside.