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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Age Jumps & What To Do About Them

Today is what I long ago coined an "Age Jump" day. I woke up, looked at myself in the mirror and stared in dismay at a new line (maybe a few) that made its debut above the top of my upper lip. This was no coming out party--no cause for celebration. No, this was a stark reminder that, no matter what I do, no matter how much expensive cream I use, facials I have, SPF 40 sun lotion I wear, the process of aging moves forward with a vengeance.

It's a challenge to accept these physical changes as badges of experience and wisdom and not flashing neon signs that scream out, "You ain't no spring chicken!" If you're like me, you consider staying in bed all day, putting a bag over your head (any material will do), wearing a burka (hopefully, it's not summer), or even scheduling an appointment with a plastic surgeon. (I don't know: Jane Fonda's facelift looks pretty damn good, but others like Goldie Hawn not so much.)

Of all of the above mentioned choices and others not listed, I recommend sulking--minus the bag or the burka, of course. That's right: go ahead and feel damn sorry for yourself. Give yourself permission to grieve for what society has convinced us is a loss of beauty. Complain to anyone who will listen. Well, make that anyone who will listen except your husband. If he's like mine, he's had it up to here (See me pointing to my chin) with your moaning and is beginning to see you as you see yourself.

What I've found is a little bit of grief goes a long way. Look at old pictures of yourself and curse the day you were born. Scream. (The Primal Screamers don't have a corner on the market.) Try on that size 8 dress you've hidden in your closet in the hopes of someday being able to wear it again. (Oh, well, maybe next time.) Sit by yourself on a park bench and feed the pigeons. Cry a few tears. (Perfect if your bag or burka has slits for eyes.) Slice a few onions. Listen to music that breaks your heart and now the image of your younger self. As the slogan goes (at least, back in the day), "let it all hang out." Oops, maybe that's not such a good idea. We older women have a lot of stuff that is hanging out just fine, thank you.

Feeding pigeons on an Age Jump Day

Miraculously, the next day, after all the histrionics, you'll feel so much better. It's like any other disappointment/tragedy in life—if you don't process the loss, you'll never get over it. (Need I remind you of your first breakup when your whole life crashed and burned?) Age jumps are part of the program. And they are lot easier to juggle when we can join our collective hands and share our temporary grief and then move forward with the energy and experience that defines us as fierce older women.

At the end of your age jump and your day of grief, give it up. Look straight in the mirror and thank the gods or goddesses that you look (and feel) as good as you do. And remember: Next week, next month, six months from now you'll look back on today and wish that you had embraced that wrinkle or sag.

This process is not guaranteed. The success rate ranges from 0% to 100%. If feeling sorry for yourself with age jumps does not improve your mental health, stop moaning right away and call your doctor—in this case, a behavioral therapist is recommended.

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