A post by speculative fiction writer Samantha Bryant:
Somewhere between age thirty and age forty, I hit this sweet spot. I was old enough to be taken seriously as a professional and a human, and young enough to be taken seriously as a professional and a human. I was past being dismissed as too young to know what I was talking about and still too young to be dismissed as over the hill and past my prime. I had self confidence and energy, at the same time. It’s a rare balance, and it’s all too brief for most women, five or six years long at the most.
As soon as you cross over forty, everyone who wants to compliment you starts telling you look great “for your age” or “you don’t look forty.” Backhanded compliments at best. The people who want to hurt you suggest that “you look tired” or wonder if you’ve considered “getting some work done.” They offer you recommendations for diet or exercise plans–unsolicited advice offered on a golden platter of condescension–or tell you about someone they know who got miraculous results from some kind of quackery. Worse, they start asking you about retirement.
My sweet spot went by really quickly.I was busy re-marrying, getting my writing career back on track, and having a second child. (Don’t get me started on how the entire world freaks out if you have a child when you’re over thirty-five, as if your eggs have an expiration date). Sometimes I wish I’d appreciated it more when it was here. Even though I still feel as though I’ve hit my stride, the world doesn’t always agree.
It’s definitely gone now. I’m forty-five, and I’m hearing the nice things to my face and the “she’s really gone to pot” comments behind my back. What I really want to know is why anyone cares what I look like at all. I was never a woman who wanted to be judged on my hairstyle or eye makeup, and now those kind of things are even less on my radar. That’s shallow end of the pool stuff, and I want to swim in the deep end, even if I have to fight sharks here sometimes.
My mother is going to be sixty-six this summer and she’s annoyed with how the simple fact of that number infantilizes her in society. She has to bite her tongue so she doesn’t slap young waitresses and scream at the bank clerk, “Don’t you ‘honey’ me, kid!” I’ve got a sharper temper than her. I worry that you all might have to bail me out of jail when I get there.
So, I’m acting out on the page again, hoping I can vent my spleen in fiction and save my husband the embarrassment and bail money. My menopausal superheroes are back! Change of Life picks up a few months after the end of Going Through the Change and finds our heroines in a time of transition.
Patricia retired so she could devote herself to hunting down her best friend gone rogue, Cindy Liu. Linda/Leonel Alvarez and Jessica Roark have been recruited by a secret quasi-governmental organization known only as The Department “where the cases are not only classified, but unclassifiable.” And Helen, well, she’s missing.
Change is difficult, even when it’s just ordinary, so super-changes are super difficult, and tensions are high within families and among the friends in my pages. Writing my menopausal superheroes allows me to explore my anxieties about aging and to find the humor in otherwise fraught situations. Writing the kinds of superhero stories I want to read? That’s a whole new kind of Sweet Spot, one I hope to maintain for a good many years yet.
Giveaway: Friend for the Ride is giving away a copy of Change of Life to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by June 1. Thanks!
Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything).
She’s the author of Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel and the newly released sequel Change of LIfe, both available through Curiosity Quills Press. You can find her on Twitter @mirymom1 or at her blog/website: http://samanthabryant.com
Art Credit: Charles C. Dowd drew the characters from the book. Polina Sapershteyn did the cover.