I have these little ‘aha’ moments now and then. More specifically, they’re more of 'I’m old' aha moments. So, naturally, I’ve been compiling a list of these moments. Who doesn't record such moments in the midst of work and raising children and going to the DMV?
So,I write them down on little stickie notes when they hit me. I'm not totally sure WHY I feel the need to record these moments, but I do know that I love lists, AND I’m constantly grappling with the realization that I'm getting old. The older me fights the once-so-certain convictions and preconceived notions of the younger me. We are constantly wrestling with each other.
My life is a mental iron cage match with the younger me. And although I’m probably not as strong as I was back then in some ways, in most ways I am stronger now-the older me wins every time. So here they are-these were my old aha moments that made it onto my stickie notes:
I have no idea what channel MTV is, or VH1 for that matter. MTV was my life. What happened? That’s what ‘I did’ growing up. And when I REALLY matured, I transitioned to VH1. Now, I have zero idea what channel these are on my cable channels. The other day I was frantically searching for Caillou and bumped into MTV and was like, “OMG, MTV! I forgot about that! When did MTV stop being my world?” Long story short, when I had children.
For the record, music is still important. I’m just not that big on trends and clothes and rock music fashion. I sing folk songs with my kids. Many of my friends are muscians. We watch live music all the time. So, what’s my point? I’m still cool.
I get the whole ‘sneak candy into the movie theater’ concept now. I took Zoe to Pathmark to get Sour Patch Kids before we went to the movies the other day. I think she looked depressed over the whole smuggling candy into the movie's situation. In my head I was having flashbacks, images of Eddie Murphy Raw were flashing through my mind. More specifically the part where he talks about how, as a kid, all he wanted was a McDonald’s burger and his mom refused to spend the money. Instead, she made him this big, homemade, bloody meatball burger on bread (and it got all doughie and pink).
Crap. I don’t want to be a sucker and pay $6 for a small pack of Swedish Fish, but I don't want to be that mom either. So, we made a deal, we would smuggle in the candy but buy the popcorn. Child size.
Friday nights mean nothing to me (or Thursdays, weekends, or summers), like they did as a kid and through college. I was tutoring a student Friday night and there was this ruckus going on outside. I asked her what it was and she said, “It’s Friday night! Everyone’s always out and hanging out on Friday nights.” Oh yeah, I remember those. Fridays! Fun Fridays! I am totally old. By the time Friday night rolls around I’m exhausted. The perfect Friday night would involve take out sushi and sleep by 7 pm.
I get the whole ‘plastic on the furniture’ thing too. We recently reupholstered our dining room chairs. My sis and I thought we were genius when we thought to buy a plastic shower curtain and fastened it over the fabric because my kids destroy everything. If my son kisses me he leaves a chocolate grease stain on my cheek. My sister was genius!
It wasn’t until later that night as I was falling asleep that I thought, “Holy shmolies. I am way too excited about plastic furniture. I am my Aunt Millie!” She was my lovely, old-school Italian Aunt. So be it. I’m honored.
I wanted a cast iron pan, and furthermore, I wanted to marry my husband all over again when he surprised me with one.
Black licorice jelly beans are my favorite. I pick out all the pastels in my kids’ stash and throw them away my children aren’t looking.
I don’t run if I don’t have to. Even when I was running long distances, it was to satisfy this need to be fit, to lose weight, to be strong, or to get a medal for proof. Now, I watch my kids and am always perplexed at how much they run, like for no reason. They run when they are excited. They run when they are scared. They run to me when they want to be held, wrestle, cry, hug. We were walking down the street the other day and Zoe goes, “Last one to the corner is a rotten egg!” and took off like a bat out of hell. How often do my friends and I do that? We don’t. We, umm, eat.
I don’t sleep. As a kid I would, ideally, sleep until 11. I can’t sleep for more than four hours at a clip. My mind is always reeling. I have to pee every hour (that’s an old thing too, no?). Even on days when I have help and need to lay down, I can’t. My body and my mind keep on keeping on. So I will lay, but I will have an iPad, an iPhone, and a TV on.
I had a mammogram. Mammos were something ‘older’ women did. I just had my baseline at 36. I went in there feeling a little old. I left there feeling empowered. I did the right thing. You should too.
I used the following terms and/or phrases: Slacks, youngster, ruckus, and ‘wait until your father gets home’ and 'Because I said so'. Yikes.
I’m not cool. I was kidding when I professed to be cool. I wear elastic-waisted pants when no one is looking. And I’m OK with that, which in turn, makes feel good. Or proud. Or calm. Some combination of all three of these words.
Cool. I think that is the biggest distinction between then and now. I spent my youth trying to be cool; handing my heart to cool kids, cool boys, who truly were not worthy of handling it. Cool was unkind. It was impossible. It was jealous and spiteful. Cool was so fricking self-destructive. And exhausting. As a grown up, I have zero interest in being cool. It’s uncool. And I am way ok with that.
As a youngster I saw life only at the surface, through a superficial lens. I don’t mean to undermine the importance of the young angle, but I see things on an entirely different, deeper level now. Maybe that is why we attach the word ‘growing’ to the word ‘old’? The lessons I gathered from those experiences didn’t come to me then. They came to me after. A direct result of ‘growing old’.
Now, I understand what it means to earn my money (despite exhaustion). So, I don’t waste it. To the young me, it was embarrassing to sneak candy into the movies. To the old me, I see what my parents did to put me through private school and then college. I hope to do the same for mine.
Mammograms, maybe I saw 40 as old back then, but right now, from where I stand, I realize how truly mortal I am. When you are young you truly believe you are immortal. I used to not fear flying because I believed that even if the plane crashed, I would live. So I wasn’t afraid (for the record, most of the time I wasn’t flying alone-way to consider life without your family, jerky!?). As a grown-up, I see that I am mortal and I take that with me everywhere. From flying and mammograms, to cast iron pans.
Some of the fear I could do without, but in terms of my health, it serves me well. And fear of all the other goodies, like sickness and death, well that is where my faith comes in. For the record, sometimes I feel like being a Christian is super uncool, but I understand where and why that may be.
Growing up and chasing cool is exhausting; surrounding myself with people who inspire me, who are totally comfy with things like my elastic-waisted pants or my faith, or my sometimes limp, is uplifting. So many people are so gosh darn cool. So is not being angry. I’m a lot more forgiving of myself and others the older I grow.
Old is good and calm. It's black licorice and babies in my bed. Old is changing and shifting definitions and direction; beauty has very little do with looks. Old is serving, despite exhaustion. It’s growing and forgiving.
Old is the smell of my Aunt Millie’s ‘fancy room’. Old is remembering how she’d let me fondle her antique typewriter on the back porch, while singing the alphabet. It’s a whisper into the wind, “Thank you. I remember…”
Old is using an expression that used to exasperate me when I was on the hearing end in my youth, and suddenly feeling like it is my mother’s arms extending to my children. It’s endearing and comforting, never annoying.
Old is so much more meaningful. I’ll treasure my youth and my memories and my lessons, but I’m so much more comfy the older I grow, and I'm pretty sure it's deeper than my elastic-waisted pants. I’m OK with growing old and elastic-waisted pants. It’s not as cool to be young, to me, anymore. I’m cool with growing old.