Aging Like a Mother

Last week at the dinner table, our eleven year-old referred to his dad and me as 'middle aged,' which brought me up short.

"We are seriously NOT middle aged." I said, working up a huff. This isn't the eighties and I am not Bonnie Franklin (who was, incidentally, younger on One Day at a Time than I am now. That and the fact I now can't get that song out of my head is probably going to bug me all day).

Colin pointed out that we're indeed halfway to the ripe, old age of 90, which in his estimation is 'middle.'

He's better at math than I am, so I conceded that we certainly could be considered middle aged by anyone who wants to get a punch in the head.

Colin is also pretty good at anticipating a punch to the head. And at ducking.

This month my sweet husband will celebrate his 45th birthday, a full seven months after I did. That teensy difference in our ages has been a source of considerable amusement for him for the last 24 years.

The good news is I feel so much better at 45 than I have at any point in my life, my krinky knees and ankles notwithstanding, which had me thinking this morning of:

All the ways I'm so much more kick-ass than I was at 25.

Determination. I have way more stick-to-it-iveness than I did back in the day. I love setting my sights on a goal and then kicking it in the pants. Earlier versions of me were less familiar with the euphoria of finishing, and not at all dissatisfied with mediocrity. Back then I was known to skip a run in favor of window shopping.

Confidence. I mostly could give a rip these days if people like me. There are, of course, people in whose happiness I relish, and I place a lot of value in being considerate, but I can't please everybody all of the time, and I'd like to think I try a lot less often than I used to.

I even told Mike the other day that his shirt didn't match his pants.

Okay, that was a lie. I actually just screwed up my face a little bit and said "hmm," when he asked what I thought. Then he changed his shirt.

Efficiency. Parenthood kind of made this a necessity. I can now shower, shampoo and shine in twenty minutes. The amount of make up is a direct reflection of the number of stop lights between me and my first meeting in the morning. There was a time I spent 90 minutes getting ready to go somewhere.

know, right? 90 minutes. Did I think I was Cleopatra or something? And for that matter, if I ever had 90 minutes to spare, why wasn't I doing a lot more napping?

I can live in the moment. Actually, this is one I'm still working on. I don't know for sure my kids will go to college, if I'll continue to find satisfying freelance work, or even if I'll have something to blog about next week. I recognize the need to be okay with stuff I can't control and relish today.

Because today is really, really good.

I asked Mike about the differences between 45 and 25 from his point of view, since he's the one with the pending existential crisis birthday.

Perspective. "At 25, people assume you don't know what you're talking about until you prove that you do," he said. "At 45 people assume you do know what you're talking about until you prove that you don't."

That's kind of intoxicating when you think about it, or it could be alarming, depending upon the 45 year-old in question.

Generosity. "Today, I'm less about what I do and more about what I give."

At this point in the conversation, I felt compelled to point out that the stuff he was giving me was too deep to be funny. What I actually wanted was a list of things that make it okay to be 45 even though we've lost the power to recover from a crazy night out as quickly as we used to, or that taking two pounds off here and there requires ten times the effort as when we were 20.

I guess that's why it's my blog.

Regardless of whether either of us is an overthinker, we agree there have been considerable changes over the course of the last two decades.

Some of these changes have less to do with the physical realities of aging and more to do with the fact we've added a couple little people to our daily routine in that window of time.

Something in the act of tamping down our gag reflex for the bajillionth diaper change, or ignoring stares when our toddler throws a tantrum in the grocery store, or grabbing dinner from the drive thru for the third time in a week because otherwise we won't make it to the soccer game on time has had a bigger impact on the way we see the world than the simple passing of decades.

Of course, they're still growing, and we are with them. I have no doubt the next 20 years will bring more changes, and in a blink I'll be writing about the 65 year old me being super-freaking ninja compared to the kick-ass 45 year old me. I'm sure it will have something to do with the fact I take way more naps and am unafraid of asking for the senior discount.

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Beth Markley is ManicMom, blogging at www.manicmumbling.com

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