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Deborah Gaines Headshot

More Or Less

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I am a fan of More magazine. Although I cringe at its mixed messages -- women who celebrate themselves at any age don't need advice on how to appear younger, and "This is what 50 looks like" shouldn't always be thin and chic -- I love the idea that middle age is the time to kick booty. Start a company! Become a Buddhist! Wear purple (or sequins or leather or whatever flips your pancake)! Get on with your badass old lady self!

The fact is, older women do tend to have more of what the magazine calls "style and substance" and I call "If you don't like it you can bite me." We know our strengths and are starting to forgive ourselves our weaknesses (in my case Doritos, fantasy novels and sarcasm).

Most of all, we are developing perspective. For instance, I've been saying I need to lose weight for at least 20 years, but my current target is the number that used to send me running to Weight Watcher's. What does this tell me? That it's not all that goddamn important. I'm healthy, I can fit through the door, and my partner thinks I look good naked. The rest is glaze on the donut.

(And by the way, if your significant other doesn't fall to his/her knees when you remove your yoga pants and Target t-shirt, that doesn't mean you're not hot. It means they need an attitude adjustment.)

There is one place where More consistently misses the mark, however, and this is with the idea that your fifties are "a time for you." "The kids are gone... your finances are in order... it's time to spread your wings and fly!" Uh, no.

Data released by the National Center for Health Statistics show that women in their 40s are more likely to have babies now than at any time in the past 45 years. And while women in the 1960s often had the last of their three or four children in middle age, older mothers are more likely than in decades past to be having their first child.

Even if you're technically an empty nester, chances are that you are still supporting your kids in some way -- from helping pay off their college bills to letting them live at home. None of this adds up to weekends in Paris or leaving your corporate job to start an Etsy storefront.

For many of us, then, the fifties are a time to plan -- to visualize our next act and lay the groundwork for getting there. My youngest child won't finish college until I'm 62, but I can tell you right now, as soon as he does, I'm outta here. I plan to freelance, write books that will hopefully inspire and delight, and travel a few months out of the year, as many of my friends have done.

Meanwhile, I'm using my newfound perspective to find joy in the life I've got now, every glorious day of it. It's not more time and it's certainly not more money. But it's more than enough for this badass 53-year-old.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

50 Things Every Woman Should Have And Know By 50
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