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Amanda Peet’s Middle-Aged Mama Meltdown

Photograph by Getty Images

Amanda Peet is middle-aged and she’s not ashamed to admit that it’s messing with her. How could it not? She's been unemployed in Hollywood for a stretch. She's 44.

Sheesh.

In a post published this week in Lenny (Lena Dunham’s millennial response to Gen-X Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop), Amanda Peet waxes poetic about disappointing herself, her daughters and feminism, all because of her vanity.

That is a large load to carry on her perfectly chiseled, yet narrow and feminine shoulders.

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For those who are too young to know who Amanda Peet is, think Allison Williams 1.0. She is a Gen-X patrician—smart, beautiful, funny as hell. But in the entertainment industry, those qualities are not always enough to ensure success. She’s had a solid career, to be sure, but it hasn’t mirrored Meryl Streep’s.

And she seems painfully aware of that in her essay.

Her words are a mix of sibling rivalry, insecurity, yearning and regret. As a middle-aged woman myself, I feel her. I do. I want to both hug Ms. Peet, comfort her in her moment of crisis and, at the same time, slap her freely across the cheek, admonishing her to snap the hell out of it.

It is the cycle of life. Hakuna matata, ladies. Embrace it as best you can.

Making ourselves vulnerable online is old hat now. Hell, I’ve been doing it myself since 2007. Over-sharing is like the coal of the Internet steam engine, helping it chug, chug, chug along that information super highway. But, please, at some point, can we call Uncle?

Ms. Peet’s line in the sand is Botox. She wants to look younger, but she doesn’t want to look like she paid for it. She worries Botox would be her “gateway drug” into much more drastic measures to preserve her youth. As always, her humor is likable, relatable—one of the best things about her. She is unapologetically sardonic. Like her, it’s attractive.

But here’s the rub: We age. We are all mortals. We wrinkle and crack and sag and turn in ways we could not have imagined just 10 years before. It is the cycle of life. Hakuna matata, ladies. Embrace it as best you can. Own those wrinkles and stretch marks. If you notice a gray streak in your dark tresses, do as I did and pay your stylist to exaggerate it. It looks hot. I promise.

“But you’re just a middle-aged freelance writer sitting in your dining room,” you say, “You’re no Hollywood actress whose livelihood depends on looking fresh as a daisy. You’re not competing with 25-year-olds for work.” Touché, reader, touché. I am not, you are correct. But, like Amanda Peet, I am a gal in my mid-forties, a mother and a sister. I, like Amanda Peet, rage, a bit, against the dying of the light. I, like Amanda Peet, see those fine lines deepening in the face that stares back at me in the mirror, the bags beneath the eyes getting heavier with each passing year.

What I hope for all women, those of us in our forties and those of us in our twenties, those of us changing the world through diapers or through research or through policy, own it.

It all kind of sucks, I know.

Where Ms. Peet lost me was in the comparison to her sister—an accomplished doctor. Actually, not just a doctor, but “the associate dean of clinical education, director of medicine clerkship, and associate professor of clinical medicine at a major urban hospital,” as she describes her. To see her compare herself to her sister, both as a human and as a mother, just made my heart ache. The fact that she felt she needed to add that her sister owns just four pairs of shoes, “all vaguely orthopedic,” was the kind of sisterly dig I recognize from my own life. Except I know to keep that shit offline.

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What I hope for all women, those of us in our forties and those of us in our twenties, those of us changing the world through diapers or through research or through policy, own it. Own the choices you have made. Own the path you have taken. If you don’t like those choices or that path, make different choices and find a new path.

It is never too late to shape who you are. It’s hard, of course, cause nothing in life is easy, no matter if you are a Hollywood actress or a doctor, but it’s yours, that life. Regrets won’t help you. And those same regrets will age you a hella lot faster than you realize, in ways Botox could never touch.

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