Kate Moss turned 50 last week.
She didn’t have much to say about it, as she’s not keen on interviews – sensible woman – but some commentators decided they’d fill the gap.
One of the pieces that stood out discussed Kate and her daughter Lila, who is also a model.
The kid has inherited great cheekbones.
But what followed really got my goat… ‘It cannot be easy for Kate. Midlife is often particularly poignant for women with daughters as they are forced to watch them blossom while their own bloom fades.’
In my usual fashion, I seethed quietly (took to X to post about it immediately, sparking much debate and consternation).
I turned 50 two years ago. I will be 52 in a matter of weeks. I also have two teenage
They’re twins which entails double the blossoming/ collagen/ shiny hair/ bright
eyes/ occasional attitudes.
Do I worry about my bloom fading? Do I hell. Am I, the middle-aged mother, envious of their youth? Not at all.
I’m not saying I don’t think about how I look or whether I have more wrinkles than last year.
I’m not saying I don’t dye my hair. Of course, I notice that the pillow marks on my face take longer to disappear in the morning. Do I fret about it? No.
I recognise there’s been an upsurge in cosmetic treatments and fixes.
I won’t say never but as a hyper-allergic person with an autoimmune disease, I stick to necessary procedures, as who knows what strange reactions could afflict me.
I had cosmetic surgery once, on the NHS, for a ripped ear lobe.
It was vanity, of course, because I was sick of my ear looking like a little bum.
People used to worry about turning 40 because that represented a ‘milestone’ in ageing.
I never thought about it like that. My mum turned 40 when I was 20 and it didn’t seem like she was ageing at all.
In fact, newly divorced, she seemed to be having the time of her life.
She was still young, not-exactly free and single.
My sister was 15 and ridiculously independent.
I was a student nurse and living my own life, making friends with people who were my mum’s age, because hospitals are like that.
Age is a fluid concept
Age has always seemed quite a fluid concept. I, on the other hand, didn’t have my twins until I was hitting forty (well, almost 37).
My life has been on a different trajectory to my mum’s. I moved away, moved around, lived in different countries, changed jobs every couple of years.
But regardless of different lifestyles, what is apparent is that we have raised our daughters in a very similar way.
An unscientific combination of nurture and encouraging age-appropriate independence.
A shared, unspoken manifesto: to live by your values and without regrets; follow your dreams; be flexible in the face of setbacks; be kind; be caring, but not so much that you lose your own boundaries (learned that one the hard way); stand up for what’s right and prioritise your safety; take no shit.
One of the biggest pleasures in my life now is spending time with my daughters as they
move toward adulthood.
I am frequently blessed with being surrounded by teenagers, some of whom I’ve known since they were small things, some who are recent friends of my kids.
‘My youthful daughters don’t make me feel old and decrepit – they energise me’
Far from making me feel old and decrepit, it energises me.
Their chat is brilliantly eclectic, everything from politics to social justice to beauty and fitness. They go to the gym, value their sleep and love long walks. They seem markedly less hedonistic than I was.
Meanwhile, I quiz them on their skincare and makeup routines and rejoice that they’re listening to 90s tunes and discovering poetry via TikTok.
Back to that Kate Moss piece. It doesn’t wash with me. The notion that we would somehow, as middle-aged mothers, be jealous of our daughters and resent their line-free skin and long eyelashes is utter nonsense.
I’m desperately proud of these wonderful humans that I birthed, in a slightly more complicated fashion than I envisaged (five hours between them, long day).
They argue with me, they tell me when I’m wrong. I do my best to apologise when I am.
I recognise the pull of their peers and how much I need to maintain an invisible string,
so they don’t stray too far.
I see my job now as being both a guide and a safe harbour for them, that they can always return to.
That will hopefully continue into their twenties, thirties, and beyond, for as long as I’m around.
The future is never certain, but what I do know for sure is that those big birthdays really don’t mean much and what matters, ultimately, is the quality of the connections we have on a day-to-day basis.
(Although word on TikTok is that those silk pillowcases are excellent at warding off wrinkles. Maybe I’ll treat myself for that upcoming birthday…)
Donna McLean is originally from Ayrshire and is a mum of twins, writer and activist