Midlife, Mood Swings and Moodrings
Illustration by Gene Suchma
Anyone who watched the ’80s chick flick Steel Magnolias is familiar with Shirley MacLaine’s character “Ouiser Boudreax,” whose demeanor makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like Glinda the Good Witch.
In one scene of the film, MacLaine’s character responds to M’Lynn, played by Sally Field, after being asked if she was crazy.
“I’m not crazy, M’Lynn – I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!.”
Serving as a reminder of my recent mood swings, my kids have downloaded this scene and occasionally send it to my iPhone whenever they think I’m “over the edge.”
“I’d rather be over the edge than over the hill!” I yell in response to no one in particular, while folding my daughter’s skinny jeans and thongs, placing them next to my elastic-waist denim shorts and granny underwear.
While MacLaine’s character was probably past menopause, and my friends and I are just on its cusp, her line defines what I call “the mood-swing years.”
Case in point: for Mother’s Day this year, my kids bought me a mood ring, but not because it’s fashion-forward – even though the look is called retro, it seems like an oxymoron to me.
They got it to monitor my pre-menopausal mood swings.
They now know that blue or green indicates it’s OK to ask me for money or the keys to the car. Orange or red, however, indicates that they should stay overnight at a friend’s house.
During the “mood-swing years,” our sense of wisdom, self-confidence and self- worth rises, while everything else droops, falls, shrinks and sags.
At five feet, I can’t afford to shrink even a quarter of an inch. To help combat it, I’ve taken up yoga and Pilates, hoping that perhaps standing on my head and elongating my spine will preserve what little height I do have, while simultaneously getting rid of the “muffin top,” which has resulted from indulging in too many trips to the bakery and soft-pretzel bakery.
The only good thing about the extra salt from the pretzels is that my fingers swell, and I can’t wear the mood ring.
This leaves my husband and kids not knowing whether their dinner will be Chinese takeout or a four-course gourmet dinner served on my grandmother’s china.
Getting older has its perks; metaphorically speaking, we’re more comfortable in our own skin.
We’re less concerned about what other people think and more concerned about how we keep our own minds forward-thinking.
Google has become the new senior wonder tool, and by mastering the art of manipulating this search engine, we give the impression we’re keeping up and delude ourselves and others into thinking we’re not “over the hill.”
Although, truth be told, by the time we think we know all there is to know, senility sets in, and we forget it all anyway.