at my age

By Brenda Tadych
Woman Newspapers

I haven’t hit a birthday that made me feel “old” yet, and I don’t expect this next one to be The One either. It can take its time getting here all the same. Whether I’m ready or not, my countdown has begun. T-minus half a year and counting and the Big 5-0 will be upon me. 

Autumn has ushered out yet another swimsuit season. I confess, swimsuit shopping was unusually painless this year. Earlylast spring, in the department store dressing room with three mirrors surrounding me - no hiding anything - I was pleasantly surprised! My booty nicely filled out the back. I reasoned that some leg and abdominal exercises could take care of the excess thigh baggage and the belly pouch and pumping some iron should take care of the saggy upper arms.  The important thing was that I’d come to terms of endearment with my body. 

I think Shirley Maclaine would call this sage-ing while age-ing, even though I’m still thorougly scrutinizing everything looking back at me in the mirror.  

Yes, my eyelids are a little too hooded, but nothing I’d bother correcting with surgery or Botox. I have my fair share of crow’s feet, but they’re only visible when I smile. My skin is otherwise healthy. Less firm and more wrinkled than in the previous decade of my life, but maybe I can still pass for 45.

 I’ve got no complaints about my hair. It’s naturally wavy and requires low daily maintenance. I don’t find the natural salt and pepper coloring attractive on me, so I solve that with a trip to the beauty shop every two months or so.

 My breasts are healthy, although gravity has a firm hold and they are going downhill, literally. In my younger, thinner days - six inches and three cup sizes ago - it was all about the underwire bra. Those things brutalize me now. The underwire jams into my armpit and leaves a mark on my belly roll after sitting. Soft band is my preference these days (but I do have one fabulous black underwire bra that lives up to its advertising of “stunning support.”)

I perform breast self-exams. At least, I do when I remember. “Please don’t let me find anything. No lumps. No bumps,’” I murmur to myself. The temptation to avoid examining myself has been with me ever since a cyst was found when I was only in my 20s.  As it turned out, the cyst was benign and the girls are still healthy, but a nagging thought resurfaces with every exam: Did my luck finally run out? It’s only a fleeting thought. Logic returns to overcome my fear and I examine the entire area.

All things considered, I think I look and feel pretty damn good for someone rounding 49 and gliding oh-so-slowly into 50.  That’s a comfortable place to be at any age.