Last Thursday I crossed a Rubicon of sorts. Until then I could still say that I was closer to 49 than I was to 50. Not anymore. I have crested the hill and am headed, lock, stock and barrel, full speed ahead down that Slippery Slope of Doom.
I haven't always dreaded aging so. Being the youngest of four siblings, I spent at least a couple of decades just trying to catch up with everybody else. Now I've turned and I'm trying to run back the other way, fast as I can, and it isn't working.
I entered adulthood still lookin' like a kid. So did my husband. People pointed and giggled when we were on our honeymoon and even after we had a couple of kids, people assumed we were just babysitting. Then something happened. I call that something THIRTY.
I remember quite well the day I realized where this aging thing was heading, and I didn't like it one bit. It was February 1994. I was sprawled out on the bed watching the Winter Olympics while Baby #3 did jumping jacks on my bladder and the rhumba on my sciatic nerve. The varicose veins throbbed to the rhythm of it all while there, right there on the television before me, were athletes. Skiers were skiing, and skaters were skating, and bobsledders were bobbing, and all over the place these sleek, fit, attractive athletes were doing all sorts of stuff that young people dream of doing one day when they grow up. And I was just lying there like a hormonally infused Jabba the Hut and it hit me. "I'll never do that." It was the technicolor thought balloon of reality speaking. "I'll never do that." There it was again. I wasn't a kid anymore. I was a 30 year-old mother of soon-to-be three children and my body was plum tired. All that dreaming of "someday" and those somedays had come and gone. Sigh. I was old.
That was over nineteen years ago and now I am even older. Time has marched on, without any orders from me, leaving its tracks all over my body, my mind and my soul. I waved goodbye to my uterus, watched in disbelief as my muscles turned to Jell-O, and sent out an APB when my hormones skipped town in cahoots with my brain cells. I don't like it. Not one bit.
Ours is not a society that embraces aging. It's just not ok to get old. And it is out and out wrong to LOOK old. The ads, oh the ADS. "How does Katie Holmes look so young? Find out her secret!" Katie Holmes looks young because she IS young, you idiots! Even "More," the women's magazine that targets the over-40 crowd, lauded some star who is "62 and still looking great in a bikini." When will it ever stop? No. When will I stop? When will I realize that it is OK to quit working and striving and trying so hard to be something that I haven't been for decades?
God tells us that there are good things in growing old. Even gray hair is considered a crown rather than a rag of shame. But the physical is the least of it. With age comes experience and wisdom and perspective and, strangely enough, humility. With age comes the good stuff. I guess that I don't have to dread that after all.