I am 16, going on 44: Nic MacPhee confronts aging

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I was the person always asked for my ID.

When I was very large and pregnant with my first child a woman came up to me and sympathetically said how sorry she was for me. She said being a teen mother was going to be challenging. I was 28 years old.

When asked to describe myself through my 20’s and 30’s I would always say I was young at heart. I felt like a 26 year old trapped in a 35, 36, 37, 38 year old body.

I find myself more comfortable with kids and young people. They don’t judge you for being silly and light-hearted. They don’t care if you can make small talk or have a university degree. You can just chat about the owl on their shirt and they are delighted with the conversation.

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Recently after dropping off my son’s friend the other day, I noticed that something was the matter with my son. He was very quiet, and not himself. I asked him what was wrong and in a roundabout way he asked me to stop acting so happy and that I was embarrassing him. Gasp.

How had I turned into that mother? I was in my mind’s eye, the young hip Mum that was fun to be around. Apparently not to my 12 year boy.

I was shelving DVD’s yesterday at the Library where I work. I was squatting down to put some on the lower shelf. Upon standing my hip made this terrifyingly loud snap sound. I looked over at the young patron (in his late 20’s) standing beside me and apologetically said “It’s my hip”. Good god how did I turn into that person?

It all started when I turned 40.

My body started to change. The metabolism I could always count on started to fail me and slow right down. Wrinkles started to creep in. Sun spots started showing up on my face and hands, then arms and legs (if I had only listened to my mother and put on the sunscreen when she told me too). Words like perimenopause started peeking into my vocabulary. Then hot flashes began at the most inopportune times like in the middle of Storytime with a packed room full of caregivers and children. I even think I am developing arthritis in my right pinky.

At junior book club around Christmas one of the young participants with all seriousness asked me if I had put tinsel in my hair. Umm, ya, no, it’s not tinsel. Big sigh.

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I find myself tisking at my reflection in the mirror disappointed at what I see.

I have yearly ECG’s done due to a horrific family history of heart disease. The results have always come back fantastic. Not my last one. It showed that I may have had a heart attack. Gulp. I am 43 years old. I had more tests done and it apparently was a false positive but it really truly scared the crap out of me.

It was a wake-up call for taking care and loving me.

I realized that I don’t want to be in my 50’s and 60’s and really have a heart attack because I didn’t exercise, or have diabetes because I ate whatever I wanted. So I started walking and the feeling it gave me was happiness. Happiness that I still had strong legs that could carry me through my 40’s and beyond. Happiness and gratefulness for the aging woman I am becoming. May I continue to embarrass my children with my young at heart and silly ways but with streaks of tinsel through my hair.

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