Ok, this is for those of you that need a laugh on this gray, dreary, and rainy Saturday afternoon (at least it is where I live - it's March - 'nuff said!). This is my piece that I submitted last week for FaithWriters. I deliberately wrote it with an eye towards humor. Evidently, I was convincing because one critiquer suggested that I "quit complaining" and then spouted some drivel about how "40 is the new 30" and other such nonsense. Do you ever notice who says things like that? It's certainly not the under 40 crowd! The truth is, I honestly do not mind growing older. I have yet to reach a point where I am not willing to share my real age with people. In fact, you couldn't pay me to go re-live my twenties! But growing older, I am finding, and will continue to find, as the decades roll on, brings with it new challenges. One way to gracefully navigate our way through these changes is to laugh and just enjoy the days. That's what I'm attempting to do here. Enjoy!
Stuck Between Marriage and Menopause
I looked at my calendar the other day and, in disbelief, realized that I’m going to be 39 next month. Shh…don’t tell anyone! Oh, who am I kidding? All anyone has to do is take one look at me to know that I have reached that dreaded portal of life. I’m no longer young, but I’m not a grandma yet. High heels kill my feet, but I’m not quite ready for orthopedic loafers. Age spots are popping up on my face and hands, but the wrinkles are still in their infancy stage. I haven’t lived long enough to have laugh lines, so I just look grouchy . My wash and go hair has turned into a monthly appointment with Miss Clairol. You could put groceries in the bags under my eyes.
I’m middle aged. I’m what my parents were while I was growing up - and I what I swore I never would be. I’m not sure exactly how, other than dying early, I intended to avoid it, though. Somehow, I slipped through early adulthood and danced myself squarely into my middle years. I used to be fun, I think. I can remember late nights with college friends, drinking Coca-cola at Midnight (which is something I would never do now, since I’d pay for it with sleeplessness and early morning bathroom trips), ordering in pizza at 1am, and giggling hysterically over nothing. It was not unusual at all to stay up into the early morning hours, studying, or, what was usually the case, just talking. What did we have to talk about? None of us had lived yet! But I had more conversations in those years than I’ve had in the last decade - including the times I talk to myself.
And then all my friends and I started getting married. We had found our “soul mates” and it was time to settle down. Of course, it may have been visions of our five bridesmaids in peach organdy, our honeymoon trip, and the tractor- trailer load of cool wedding gifts we were sure to get clouding our vision. For whatever reason, the next few years were a blur of lingerie showers and rose petals.
My descent into Middle Age occurred within the following decade. I had babies. At first, I decided I would be one of those cool moms - the ones you see in commercials for diapers and peanut butter. They never sport baby formula on their shirts and they usually do their shopping in pressed khaki pants. Their babies are cute and happy and never have explosive bowel movements in the dairy aisle at Shop n Save. That resolve disappeared about the time I discovered Baby #2 was on the way. From then on, the goal was survival.
I’ve been like one of Sherman’s troops plowing through Georgia as I’ve waded my way through potty training, ER trips, ketchup on the ceiling (don’t ask), dead pets, the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and Legos. Along the way I also picked up 2 mortgages, a houseful of dying appliances, reproducing laundry, camping trips (“Let’s go relax, Honey!”), plantar warts, and three root canals.
I’ve finally come up for air, only to discover that Youth has fled and I’m firmly entrenched into Middle Age. My oldest son is starting to mention colleges, my husband says we need to talk about something called an IRA, and I’m quite sure I’m going to walk away from my next trip to the ophthalmologist with a prescription for bifocals. Let the good times roll!
I try to console myself with the knowledge that at least I’m not as old as the generation before me. I still have most of my teeth and I don’t read the obituaries yet with a sense of victory when I don’t see my name. However, at my last doctor’s visit, my doctor sat there reviewing some test results and then turned, and earnestly said to me, “Have you ever heard of the term ‘peri-menopause’?”
And that’s where I find myself as I stare disconsolately at the calendar - stuck firmly between marriage and menopause!