My elders neglected to inform me that being a middle-aged woman feels like adolescence. My hormones are all over the place, causing a mountain of anxiety one minute and a waterfall of depression the next. I’m not always in control of my mind.

My body is also slowing down. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Yesterday morning, I felt unstoppable and twenty years younger. That’s because it was my 52nd birthday and still early. I slept through the night, meditated, walked, and did yoga, all of which helped me conquer my day.

After sundown, however, I can turn into a grumpy old lady, even under the best circumstances. Although I recently asserted that I feel younger than my chronological age, I do feel older in some ways and on some days. I was sleepy by evening and in bed by 10:30. I had a juicy novel to keep me awake, or I would’ve gone to bed earlier.

I’m more sensitive to change than ever. If I wake at 4 AM and can’t fall back asleep right away, eight collective hours of rest won’t be enough to stop me from grumbling or crying over burnt toast and being generally unhappy all day.

I act like my 12-year-old who’s hitting puberty.

She gets upset when I ask how she’s doing — but it depends on when I ask. One time, she’s fine, but the next, she’s like, “Can’t you just leave? Stop talking to me right now!” Her mood can be correlated with sleep deprivation as well. But puberty is unpredictable. I could’ve just looked at her the wrong way.

Yeah, kiddo. I relate.

What’s that? You’re not a kiddo anymore? My bad.

Except when I’m in a perimenopausal mood. Then I’m like, “What is going ON with you? All I said was hello!” And my hormonally challenged brain and bruised heart remained baffled for the remainder of the day.

I wish I could turn off ovulation and have an intuitive hormone balancer. Maybe it could be like a morphine drip, only more complex and less addictive. I’ve heard about the magic of hormone replacement. It sounds like a dream, but I’m not sure I’m ready yet.

I have a uterus and fallopian tubes with a handful of eggs that have nowhere else to go, so sometimes I get a period, and sometimes I don’t.

I’d evict them if I could, but everything still works. They’re doing what nature intended. Some days, I’m in awe. Others, not so much. I’m eager for their job to be over.

When do I cross over the line into official old lady status?

It’s hard to say.

I saw a woman getting out of her car and picking up a tissue before heading to the gym up the street.

She donned a bright pink fleece sweater and leggings with her ashen hair cut short and casual. I assumed she was in her seventies. Then, I realized she could be closer to my age.

Oh, that’s right. I’m older now, aren’t I?

That could be me in five years. I have a loud nose-blowing habit, so I honed in on that tissue she’d surely need. Don’t old people blow their noses a lot? I admittedly need to work on my ageist assumptions. I’m probably in her age group now, even if I don’t remember all the time.

I look down at my old lady’s hands, which aged faster than the rest of me for some reason. They’re mottled with age spots and lined with tendons and wrinkles. I’m not bothered by them. They illustrate how I’ve lived— hands-on, hands in, ready to touch and be touched.

I’ve cooked with these old hands, held my two beautiful children, and pruned roses. They don’t embarrass me, but they were the first clue that I’m growing old.

Now, the skin on my muscular arms is beginning to sag, and I’m fascinated. I know everyone’s skin goes through this metamorphosis. But when it started happening to me, it gave me pause. Am I not cute anymore because my skin is old? I don’t believe that, but society’s messaging is still screwed up, so I guess that’s why I’m a little sad. The passing of time feels like a blink when we’re older.

I can celebrate a life well lived so far.

I recognize it as a sign of maturity, which I welcome.

I’ve done as many great things as not-so-great during this phase of my life. I have knowledge and experience to impart to the younger generations.

If the Universe will have me, I plan to live with more gusto than ever.

That’s what middle-aged women experience — a somewhat imperceptible fading of one’s youth, followed by an appreciation for being older and wiser than we once believed. We might retain the energy of a person decades younger while accepting we’re no longer in our thirties.

My hormones might challenge my ability to stay even-tempered at times, but I’m calmer and more settled than I’ve ever been.

I can problem-solve and let go like nobody’s business. I still catch someone’s eye, no matter what their age. I’m the person you ask when you need life advice because I’ve lived over half of a lifetime and know things.

Being an old lady isn’t so bad.

I might have to start napping during the day to prevent getting ornery, but I think I can handle that.

This article was originally published at Medium. Republished with permission from the author.