Illustration by David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star

Middle-aged.

I hate that word. I don’t know why, perhaps because it sounds like something out of “The Lord of the Rings” which, in no universe, needed to be three movies long.

Or, maybe it’s because the word hits waaaay too close to home.

My husband once uttered the “m” word in reference to us, and I reacted like he’d dropped an “f”-bomb in front of kids.

“We’re not middle aged! That’s what you call people who are in their 50s or 60s.”

I never said I was good at math.

And now when I fill out those online surveys in an attempt to score a $25 CVS gift card, I’ve moved into another older demographic chunk. I try not to let it bother me, but it does. Along with small font size and people who mumble.

At the same time, I think, would I want to be in my 20s right now? Would I want to have to navigate a world where people text each other to break up or quit a job? Heck no.

Truth is, I feel pretty comfortable in my shoes, all 100 pairs of them — and that’s just an estimate, not an actual count. As previously established, I’m just not into math.

And, so, a mere four days away from our most grateful holiday of the year, I am choosing not to focus on how I need to kick it in gear and prepare for hosting a meal for 19 people. Nor am I going to think about how I feel tired and crotchety — does it strike anyone else as weird that the base of that word is “crotch”? Instead, I’m thinking about how thankful I am for the lessons that I, as a, gulp, middle-aged woman, have learned. And how it’s kinda cool to not give a turkey’s butt — always my mom’s fave part of the T-giving meal — any more about certain things. So, listen to me and save yourself decades of angstiness over unimportant stuff or worse, wearing uncomfortably tight foundation garments.

I hold these truths to be self-evident (now):

  • Perfection is seriously overrated. That’s why I threw out my Spanx.
  • Always stand up for what you believe in, even if it seems like you’re alone. I may have been the only teenager in the ’80s to love Neil Diamond songs, but now every stadium in America sings “Sweet Caroline.”
  • Guilt is stupid. Unless you committed a felony, then, by all means, you should feel really, really bad.
  • It’s OK to say no. (Psst, busy moms, that one was for you.)
  • No one likes excuses. Suck it up and own your mistake.
  • Anything with fruit legitimately counts as breakfast food, including — and especially — Raisinets.
  • Never trust a frosted brownie. It’s hiding something, usually a lack of flavor. Good brownies need no adornment.
  • There is no shame in choosing to spend Saturday night on your couch. In sweats. With your family.
  • Dance like no one is watching only really and truly if no one is watching because if your kids catch you, they will mock you. Mercilessly.
  • Appreciate the simple things. A fun surprise doesn’t have to be an impromptu trip to Vegas —it can be opening the dryer and finding a load of clean laundry.
  • It’s OK to admit you don’t know something.

So, there ya go. Oh wait. I forgot one — and this is the biggie, especially this time of year — ain’t nothing wrong with drawstring pants.

Contact Kristen Cook at kcook@tucson.com or 573-4194. On Twitter: @kcookski. Perhaps the ultimate sign of middle age: Hurrying to hide the Costco ad lest Cook’s husband catch her drooling over expensive cold-storage smut, aka the fancy fridges.