On heading towards middle age and my “prime”

The ancient Greeks had a working definition of “in your prime” which was around 43 years of age.  I am in my late thirties.  The idea of being on an upward trajectory over the next few years as I head towards middle age and my prime is really appealing.

Unfortunately, biology and society tell me that I reached my prime was I was about 25.  At 25, I was super-fertile. My breasts were pert. My face was plump. My stomach was tight.  I had no grey hairs. Any bags or puffiness under my eyes were a result of a hangover.  When I was 25, hangovers only lasted one day, rather than three.    

middle age

Science tells us that a woman’s fertility starts to decline in her early 30s.  At 35, it starts to decline more rapidly.  I think its fair to say that when it comes to reproduction, I am most definitely past my peak.  I am on a downward trajectory.   My reproductive “prime” is a long and distant memory.

I never really gave a great deal of thought to what middle age would look and feel like.  I look tired.  The grey hairs are now quite persistent and I spend time and money trying to hide them.  I always thought I’d have wrinkles around my eyes, and indeed I have, but I never really considered that I would have what I can only describe as loose skin either side of my mouth.  The skin on my face has lost its younger plumpness.

But despite of this, I feel comfortable in my body, more comfortable than I have felt before.  I don’t mind that my post-pregnancy stomach has lost its definition.  It doesn’t really bother me that my bottom is a little lower than it used to be.  My breasts are barely recognisable as my own after pregnancy and then breastfeeding

The lines around my eyes are smile lines.  They document a life full of laughter. 

Middle age has also affected the way I think.  These days I see young guys on the street and I think of them more as my son than as a potential love interest.  If a boy in his early twenties dies in a TV hospital drama like Casualty for example, I find myself identifying more with the boy’s mother than with his fiancée.

As I approach middle age, I know that sleep is a cure for almost every ailment and stressor.  I also know that sleep is incredibly valuable and I shouldn’t waste any opportunity to get a little shut-eye. 

I know that hard work pays off…eventually.  I know that out of our greatest challenges come our greatest achievements. 

I know that it is best not to reply to an angry email or text message immediately, but rather to sleep on it and wait a few days. 

I know that we need to experience really difficult times in our lives to enable us to appreciate how good life can really be. 

I know that life has chapters. Some periods of our lives have a definite break followed by a new beginning.   Some chapters are good, some are bad.  Some chapters are like emotional roller-coasters, others are stable and narrative fillers.

In my novel, I have been a quiet child; a conscientious school girl; a head-over-heals in love teenager; an enthralled student; a content and energised employee; a loyal girlfriend; a woman who has lost her way and in the wrong relationship; a shell-shocked mother suffering an identity crisis.  My current chapter is the story of a happy single mother.  I want this current chapter to be a long one. 

In this current chapter I am on an upward trajectory towards middle age.  I feel I’m heading towards my prime. 

Maybe the ancient Greeks were right about middle age after all.


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  1. July 7, 2017 / 5:05 am

    I think they were right. Ok physically our prime may be behind us but in terms of happiness and mental well-being it’s most certainly not #stayclassymama

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2017 / 10:07 pm

      I concur…obviously. Pen x

  2. July 7, 2017 / 6:53 am

    You are so right. I really feel that at 46 I am finally coming into my prime. No matter what the mirroe tells me…!

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2017 / 10:07 pm

      Good for you Liz. Pen x

  3. July 7, 2017 / 8:59 am

    Oh I really hope I am coming into my prime. I think I am in the struggling what the f8ck I want with life phase but this gives me hope that I will get there. Love that you are having the best chapter of all at the mo 🙂 And yes, powernaps are the way forward, always. #FridayFrolics
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    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2017 / 10:07 pm

      Thanks Emma. You absolutely are coming into your prime. I am looking forward to it. Pen x

  4. July 7, 2017 / 11:31 am

    I’ve just turned 30 and so far I’m loving this age! My fertile days are well behind me, but I’ve learnt so much now that I’m older and wish I could have been this wise when I was younger. Yes, my boobs are no longer pert, I don’t have a flat tummy, but I have a positive outlook on life, I’m healthy and happy and that’s all that really matters. Fab post! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2017 / 10:06 pm

      Emily, what are you talking about. Your fertile days aren’t behind you. A positive outlook on life is incredibly important. Pen x

  5. July 7, 2017 / 1:28 pm

    I love this. I am two years off being 40 and dreading it! I saw a picture of me three years ago at my youngest sons’ christening and I can’t believe how much older I look now. I blame the kids entirely! 😉 Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics
    Claire – Life, Love and Dirty Dishes recently posted…Friday Frolics Linky – 7th JulyMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 7, 2017 / 10:05 pm

      Hi Claire, Just remember, at 40, you are still three years off your prime. Thanks for your lovely comment. Pen x

  6. Sarah - Mud, Cake and wine
    July 8, 2017 / 1:15 pm

    I have just turned 40 and feel very at ease with myself and in fact like the fact I do not care so much about what other people think anymore. #thatfridaylinky

    • thesingleswan
      July 8, 2017 / 8:20 pm

      Good for you Sarah. thanks for your comment. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      July 9, 2017 / 9:55 pm

      Oh Jeremy, you are being too hard on yourself. Take care. Pen x

  7. July 9, 2017 / 9:15 am

    Apparently middle age starts proper at aged 46. I’m certainly clinging to this notion as I’m 42. I think the prime thing is right I’m defo gong through a time of reinventing my fitness and my working projects. If Yazz has taught us anything it’s that ‘the only way is up’ .#fridayfrolics

    • thesingleswan
      July 9, 2017 / 9:54 pm

      Oooh, now I like that. Congratulations – at 42 you are very close to your prime. You must be amazing. Thanks for your comment. pen x

  8. July 11, 2017 / 8:21 am

    I was excited about turning 40 and now I’m here I’m not so sure. I swear I’ve noticed more lines and wrinkles and my skin has changed it feels, overnight. I now have jowls and I’m not a fan. Like you I feel more comfortable in my own skin and much more wise on how to handle situations and people. Thanks for linking! Don’t forget the badge or link back #sharethejoy
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  9. July 11, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    Powerful post and it makes me happy to think you are at peace with where you are right now. Best blog post I read today and I real loads today for some reason.

    • thesingleswan
      July 11, 2017 / 9:07 pm

      Thank you Kate. That is very sweet of you to say. Regards Pen x

  10. July 11, 2017 / 11:43 pm

    I’m really trying to improve my attitude towards it, having always really struggled with coping with aging! Thanks so much for joining us for #FridayFrolics
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Friday Frolics – 7th July 2017My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 12, 2017 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  11. July 12, 2017 / 10:54 am

    I agree that life comes in chapters and it is only afterwards we can identify them properly. I am happier now than I have ever been but also more exhausted tan I have ever been too! #RVHT
    Musings of a tired mummy…zzz… recently posted…How do you cope?!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 12, 2017 / 9:11 pm

      I had never really thought that it might be after our chapters that we can properly identify them. I think you are right. Let’s see what’s left to happen in our current chapters. pen x

  12. July 12, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    I love the idea of life as chapters. Quite a romantic view in my opinion. I am also approaching my late 30s and like you almost entering middle age but i’m also ok with that. I’m happy. I’m settled. I’m confident. I’m me and I like me. Thank you for sharing your lovely post with #StayClassyMama

    • thesingleswan
      July 12, 2017 / 9:10 pm

      Thank you. “I’m me and I like me” is what we should all aspire to. Pen x

  13. July 12, 2017 / 10:00 pm

    Great post. I’m 40, and I don’t feel like I’m done, although having said that my body is certainly middle aged spread the way the rest of the female side of the family ended up (must eat less and sort my diet out!). I have grey hairs, but I have no wrinkles and my skin is still more teenage hormones than drying out or sagging. But the identifying with different people is happening, and I hear ad see myself turning into my mother! #brilliantblogposts

    • thesingleswan
      July 13, 2017 / 8:48 pm

      haha, yes, we all turn into our mothers. It is inevitable, but not necessarily a bad thing! Pen x

  14. July 13, 2017 / 9:30 am

    Well, I am 46 and I can tell you now, middle age rocks! I love it, I’m having the time of my life and so will you. When you reach your 40’s you know who you are, what you like and what you don’t, you’re free of the pressures you endured in your 20’s to be a certain way. That said, I am still a great big kid who will never really grow up #coolmumclub x

    • thesingleswan
      July 13, 2017 / 8:46 pm

      Wohoooo. Good for you. Pen x

  15. July 13, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    Love the positivity in this post! Life is definitely a mix of peaks and troughs and it’s about trying to recognise that that is normal and that each chapter will eventually close. I hope your current happy chapter is a long one! #brillblogposts
    Lucy At Home recently posted…Stay At Home Activities For The School HolidaysMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 13, 2017 / 8:45 pm

      Thank you Lucy

      Pen x

  16. July 13, 2017 / 3:46 pm

    I so need to take a leaf out of your book and indeed that of all the people who’ve commented on my own posts about ageing (which have been FAR less graceful and accepting than yours!). I’m heading towards 50 and whilst I know I should be grateful to be here when I know so many people younger than me/my age who are no longer with us, I’m honestly struggling with no longer being youthful. As someone who erm used to look pretty good in her 20s and 30s (sorry to sound obnoxious) I really struggle with the changes middle age has brought, the slackening figure and fading looks. God I sound shallow. Just this week I found myself taking back a dress I bought because whilst it fit me perfectly, it was just too young and girlish on me. I then bought one of the much in fashion summery playsuits and ended up giving it to my 13 yo who can pull it far better than me! And oh the slack skin on the side of the mouth! I’m accepting (reluctantly) the deep socket bag things under my eyes but the skin beside my mouth…nobody warned me! Love the way you wrote this (as usual). #fridayfrolics

    • thesingleswan
      July 13, 2017 / 8:43 pm

      haha, I know. I wish someone had warned me aged 24 that I needed to make the most of my figure, wear the skimpiest clothes possible and the highest of heals because it would be downhill from then on. I am really impressed that you are giving clothes to your 13 year old and she is able to wear them. You clearly have an awesome figure and an awesome sense of fashion. I’ve no doubt your daughter is proud. Pen x

  17. July 14, 2017 / 11:03 am

    I think the Greeks had the right idea. Perhaps reproductively (is that a word?) we are not in our prime but mentally and emotionally, we really are and maybe the Greeks didn’t like dealing with all of the drama lol
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
    Random Musings recently posted…Blogger Spotlight Interview: Five Little StarsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 14, 2017 / 8:49 pm

      It is strange isn’t it. I know that I can cope with stuff these days. A decade ago for example I hadn’t been through this s**t so I don’t know. Pen x

  18. July 15, 2017 / 5:49 am

    At 40 I definitely feel like this is a good age. Even if I do have too many grey hairs to cover and I’m always tired!! X

    • thesingleswan
      July 16, 2017 / 2:46 pm

      Thanks Julia. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      July 16, 2017 / 2:43 pm

      You are right – it is about curiosity and thirst. For me, it is also about having the confidence to fail. Pen x

  19. July 16, 2017 / 11:51 am

    I love this! I would love to think my prime is yet to come because it feels like I passed mine at least years ago! I’m on the same page with the mum thing when you see young men of about 20, I just think ‘aww bless ’em’. There’s a young lad on my course at uni who seems to get people’s backs up but he’s only about 19 and when people are unkind to him I always find myself sticking up for him because I think ‘If I were his mum, I’d be gutted if people were talking to him like this!’

    Jenny (Accidental Hipster Mum) recently posted…Freshney Play Grimsby – A Fabulous FREE Place to Entertain the KidsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 16, 2017 / 2:41 pm

      Hi Jenny,

      thanks for your comment. i am glad I am not the only one who has maternal instincts towards men in their early twenties. Pen x

  20. July 17, 2017 / 2:05 am

    Ain’t it great! I am quickly approaching 40…gulp. I however, feel like my age. Tired and worn. I’m hoping my prime is yet to come!

    • thesingleswan
      July 17, 2017 / 9:07 pm

      Your prime is definitely to come. Keep the faith. Pen x

  21. July 17, 2017 / 5:16 pm

    This resonates and reassures (I’m Greek and totally believe prime age is 43). I’m 37 in November and feel stronger and happier now than ever. You are spot on about hard work yielding dreams and that the bad times help us appreciate the good. I’ve had a lot of trauma over the last 18 months and it’s that which has helped me remember what truly matters. Thank you for this x
    Honest Mum recently posted…Celebrating The Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s 40th AnniversaryMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      July 17, 2017 / 9:06 pm

      Hi Vicki,

      thanks for your lovely comment, and your tweet. Trauma does put everything into perspective. You are so right. I hope you’re okay. Loads of love. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      July 17, 2017 / 9:03 pm

      Thanks Rachel . Pen x

  22. July 18, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    I may have recently suffered through a three-day hangover, but my god you couldn’t pay me to go back to the insecurities of 22 again. I recognised myself in so many of these points – insightful as always, Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      July 19, 2017 / 8:40 pm

      Thank you Alice. Appreciated as always. Pen x

  23. August 3, 2017 / 4:39 pm

    As a mum of a toddler and a teen in her thirties, I thought my prime was a long time ago. It’s reassuring to know that I could be heading towards my prime 🙂

    Laura @ Dot Makes 4 recently posted…A Harry Potter Birthday PartyMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 3, 2017 / 9:14 pm

      You are definitely heading towards your prime lady. I agree though – I thought my prime was aged 24. I didn’t have the personality, character and assurance that I have now though. Pen x

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