no country for old women

Ok, it’s my birthday on Monday. I am *so* going to rock 41. Can’t wait.

But no-one really cares about 41. Not like they cared about 40.

So here’s one I prepared earlier – like, when I was 39.

But it still works. W.B Yeats gets me every time.

No Country For Old Women

In six and a half months I will turn 40. There, I’ve said it. Am I concerned about this big number? Not in the slightest. Should I be? The answer to that is a little more complicated.

I was the girl who always got asked for ID at nightclubs so I have never really felt my age. My nightclubbing days ended when I had my first child, and I expect that if I put on my party duds now and headed out on the town I would probably be waved (or laughed) through the door without a second glance by every bouncer worth his badge. But I still don’t feel old.

I think I still look the same. Or at least I did until recently. A few weeks ago I was going through some old photos and found one of me at a friend’s wedding about fifteen years ago. It’s one of the few photos that I really like so I proudly displayed it on my desk. “Who’s that, Mum?” asked Indiana pointing to the Ghost of Mummy Past as I scraped my ego from the floor.

Okay, so maybe I do look a little different but I definitely still feel the same. I am as ridiculously healthy as I have always been. I can do everything I used to do except for cartwheels – and that’s just because I don’t have time to practice. But trust the medical profession to rain on my Botox-free parade. It seems all my aging is happening on the inside – I’m a sort of modern, female Dorian Gray.

The first indication of a covert attack by the forces of time – my ruthless nemesis – came after a recent run of miscarriages. I considered myself the random victim of an unexplainable mystery. That is until a kind young doctor thought he was being helpful by giving me the old, “It’s probably your age,” routine. Excuse me? One throwaway line and I had traversed the generation gap.

The second wave came a few weeks ago when I noticed that a certain area in my breast had an ever so faint, niggling pain. Because I have had a lot of pregnancies (eight at last count) my breasts have undergone quite a few changes and I had lost sight of what was ‘normal’. I rang our local BreastScreen provider but – here’s the irony – because I am under 40 I am too young for a free mammogram.

Not prepared to wait until next year, my doctor referred me for a mammogram and ultrasound. It turns out I have a cyst in my breast which is supposedly nothing to worry about. Except for the fact that my Google search revealed that breast cysts usually affect “middle-aged women from 35 upwards.” Excuse me again! Middle- aged! Perhaps I do have something to worry about.

Irish poet William Butler Yeats was the first to declare that this is ‘no country for old men’ in his poem Sailing to Byzantium. And I have to say I was starting to agree with him. The poem declares that:

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick,

Yes, I had started feeling a little paltry what with all this talk about age and getting old.

But I persevered with my friend Yeats. And I believe he has a solution. The next part reads:


And it’s the ‘unless’ that is important.


Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress

There’s my answer.

I invite you all to my Getting Older Party. I’ll be the one in the corner clapping and singing loudly in my tattered mortal party dress.

Do you feel your age? How do you deal with getting older?



Filed under getting older, parenting

6 responses to “no country for old women

  1. I don’t look in the mirror much – easier to think I look the same as I looked 15 years ago that way LOL

  2. Well you’re going to hate me, but I’m 10 years younger than you. I’ll be 31 this year. But….. I do feel like I look a lot older these days. And I certainly feel it.
    Case in point – up until about 18 months ago (and you and those other clever readers will realise that’s the time I lost Hope) I still used to get asked for ID going to buy a bottle of wine and six beers on Friday night. Even if it was a $30 bottle of wine and 6 imported beers. I have just always looked young, and I don’t bother with much makeup to try and make myself look much different – I’m lucky I have good skin. But last Friday night, I did the same thing (for five mins of peace, sans baby) and I realised I did not get asked. Nothing will age you like a dead baby. Or infertility. Or a string of miscarriages. I might only be 30, but I’ve packed a lifetime of heartache in to those years (most of it just in the last 18 months) and I think you can certainly see that in my face now.
    And Jayne, HAPPY birthday for Monday. Eat cake. Lots of it.

  3. This is (almost) me now. I’ll be turning 4o this September. I’m starting to feel “older” (note: not “old”).

    I was at the doctors once asking her about something, and she said, “well, you know, when you hit middle age – that kind of stuff happens.”

    What the…?

    But, you know, when my Mum was my age, she was still two years away from having me. I’ve never thought 40 as old. It’s young. 80 however…that’s another story.

    Happy birthday again. xxx

  4. I’m still picking myself up off the floor after reading I’m middle-aged at 35! Luckily I don’t feel my age, although my body is definitely giving the game away.

    Happy birthday for yesterday Jayne!

    Joh xxx

  5. I’m turning 30 in a few months and I still feel 20. The only nice thing is that, whereas people used to think I was older than I was (a danger in having a senior corporate role early on!), now I seem to fit my age a little more. Weird.

  6. Oops – posted too early… is that a sign of ageing?!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope you had a great day, and the year of being 41 is wonderful to you! xo

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