chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: March 2023 | Transition

Aging Through the Decades - Why Am I Miffed?!

Vicki Levy Eskin


  • Coming to grips with aging, changing priorities, and the emotions that come with it.
  • From being "miffed" about being called old in your late thirties to dealing with the challenges of aging, including oral plaque, an AARP membership, and knee issues.
  • How one lawyer made the decision to semi-retire and the sense of amusement and love in her interactions with those around her.
Aging Through the Decades - Why Am I Miffed?!
fizkes via Getty Images

Jump to:

I was flattered when I was carded in my late thirties.  But then I was highly miffed when the gatekeeper hollered, “Hey guys, look how old this lady is!”, then asked if I didn’t feel out of place.  Not until that very moment I didn’t.  I got over being miffed and danced until I dropped that evening, and never returned to be embarrassed at that venue, harumph.

When I was in my forties, I was pretty miffed when my mother mentioned that it might be time for me to consider having some cosmetic work done and that I could probably use an updated hair style.  Now that my own son is in his forties, and what little of his remaining hair is graying, I have a better understanding that her advice was less about my appearance, but more that my show of age made my mother feel older.  I know my son would be miffed if I mentioned hair growth or coloring products, but gosh it is hard to be silent on the topic.  Sigh, not good to miff one’s adult children.

I was truly miffed when I turned 50 and learned that women of a certain age have more oral plaque – this in addition to all those other fun attributes of aging we hear about, but I bought a better toothbrush, switched dentists, and smiled more, despite my plaque.

And yes, I was miffed when I was surprised with an AARP membership, but I took advantage of savings and compared my appearance to others who I was quite certain weren’t aging as well.  Since my eyesight isn’t all that great, my appearance seemed pretty fabulous to me.  I do confess to embarrassment when I called a classmate "Sir" when inquiring directions to my high school reunion.  The guy really looked old, but didn’t seem miffed at me at all – so kind!

I was even more miffed the year I turned 65 and was deluged with multiple daily offers for various Medicare plans.  I began telling the solicitors that I wasn’t so old that I didn’t realize how old I was and could make my own Medicare decisions, thank you very much.  Those calls really miffed me!

I continued to be miffed these days when I showed up in court, but I smiled politely when judges and attorneys (darn whippersnappers) said that they thought I’d quit practicing years ago, and one even said that he thought I was dead.  Sigh.  It’s okay.  Not dead yet, thank you.  Too miffed to give anyone the pleasure of checking out, harumph.

I admit I was miffed when my orthopedic surgeon said my knees were shot and should have been repaired by now, as surgery is harder the older one gets.  I smiled and thanked him through gritted teeth as he injected stuff made from a rooster’s comb into my knees.  I now crow from time to time around the office to see if anyone is paying attention.  I’m a bit miffed when they act like crowing is normal, harumph.

I try hard not to be miffed when some of my clients ask how much longer I plan on being in practice and ask who would take over their matters if I, well, died before they do, but I smile politely and introduce them to my intended replacement. Not miffed, well, not much.  I swear most of them look older than me even if they are not.  Not miffed.

I was miffed, but secretly pleased when I received offers to purchase my practice because my firm has been around for so long that its reputation is worth more than, oops, having me around (It still uses my first marriage’s name though I’ve been married to someone else for twenty years, so I suppose the firm’s reputation is totally separate from my abilities, right?).  “Doesn’t matter,” said the purchaser –“The firm has a great reputation and I don’t want to change its name.  When will you be ready to leave? I know you'd like to retire."  I hadn't necessarily planned to do it so soon, but not truly miffed, just feeling a bit obsolete.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I took my youngest granddaughter shopping and was waiting in a long check-out line with her basket of goodies.  I mentioned that I plan on spending more time with her when I retire.  She got this horrified look on her face and said, “No way, Grandma.  No retiring.”  She’s eight, so I decided she might give me a different perspective on life.  I asked why I can’t retire, noticing that other shoppers waiting in line had turned to smile and listen.  She replied, “Look, Grandma. You just aren’t like other grandmas and that’s okay, ‘cause as long as you are working, you can take me shopping. So no retiring, you hear me? You wouldn’t be you if you weren’t working. And you wouldn’t have enough money.”  I tried not to be miffed nor to giggle as we got in the car and she said, “Now, let’s go shoe shopping.”  She’s pretty commanding, so I did as I was told.  And I tried not to be miffed that shoe shopping is not as much fun now that spikey heels are truly out of the question for me, sigh.

No respect.  None whatsoever.  Anyway, I haven’t decided yet whether I’m miffed due to my plans to  semi retire in the spring.  My son’s cancer has drained me (he’s the father of the eight-year-old mentioned above.)  He’s doing okay, but has a limited life expectancy due to the various aspects of the disease, which is rare and continues to assault his body.  I find that my workaholic nature and my work focus is diminishing in quality.  I struggle with a vague suspicion that I’m miffed because I feel that now that I finally really and truly know what I’m doing ninety-nine percent of the time, most of the joy has gone out of proving it.

I admit to being miffed that I waited so long to focus more on my family.   My son says that he remembers me always working (though I promise I only missed one field trip in 12 years and I served on PTA boards most of his time in school, sigh).  The grandchildren say that they only think of me in the kitchen, though I’ve taken every single one of them with me to court at least once so that they can see what their grandma does when she’s not with them.  I’m miffed that they just don’t get it.  They say their mommies help people, but they don't get paid for it.  I’m miffed that my life as a gentle feminist, hasn’t impressed the younger generation of women in my family.  I try to be miffed that I was never a babysitting grandma, but honestly, I loved practicing law and tried to entertain the kiddies when I could do so.  They seemed to have fun when we were together and not to be miffed that I wasn’t around more.  (I hope.)

I continue to claim almost daily to be miffed about one thing or another, but my claims seem to mostly amuse those if they even bother to notice me.  I’m not miffed, well, not really.  Even my husband, who I insist is significantly older than me, seems to just be amused and to be puzzled why I’m struggling with my retirement decision.  I thought my staff would be miffed, but they like my former associate who is taking over seem miffed when I stay a full day at the office.  What’s up with that?!?  Guess I’m not miffed, but mildly amused with these people who I love as though they are my family.  I’ll continue to miff them, by showing up from time to time to offer my very valuable suggestions. 

This is adapted from a submission I made to Solosez, which is sponsored by the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division of the American Bar Association, which has done so much to enhance the quality of my life and practice since the mid 1990’s.