Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says "Oh shit, she's awake."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sex and the pity…a middle-aged woman’s guide to “rolling with the punches”

So let me tell you a story about a middle-aged woman. She’s nearly 46, and truly ok with being “in her forties.” She looks good for her age, and occasionally she even looks fabulous. She’s three pounds lighter than the day she graduated high school, and she can still keep up with the “youngsters” although more and more frequently, the desire to do so is glaringly absent. She, for the most part, is happy in her skin but some days...well...

Ok, I’m talking about me. I am confessing something of which I'm not terribly proud. I had a “moment” this weekend that bears reflection. Did I overreact? Yep, I absolutely did. But it was a moment where I do believe I learned something fairly significant about myself. Who says you can’t learn something new, even though you’re an “old dog?”


Bill and I usually go out for a bite to eat and a few cocktails on Friday evenings. It’s our time to chill out after a long week, spend some much needed down time together, and maybe hang out with a few friends. As a general rule, I try to don on something besides my “work attire” complete with heels, giant hair, and a smathering of makeup. This week, I pulled out a new sweater I had bought a couple of weeks ago. It is very different from anything else in my closet – a black ribbed little number with half sleeves, white trim and a rhinestone zipper up the front. It is not what you would typically see me in, as it is far more tailored than I usually wear (I’m a ruffles girl) but I loved that it was different. I even put on a red push up bra for extra “oomph.” After setting my hair in hot rollers (my hair was so big it required its own zip code) and slapping on my “sexy face” I surveyed my appearance. Damn I looked pretty hot! Mission accomplished. My insecurity about wearing something just a little “different” disappeared.

We went to the local watering hole with a friend. As I sat across the table from her, I just HAD to go that place…that place I should have never gone. “So, what do you think of my new sweater?” I asked with great enthusiasm. She smiled, “Well, I could never wear it because it would make me look old, but it looks great on you!” an instant I was completely devastated. What did she mean? What was she trying to tell me? Now, I should preface this by telling you she is nearly 8 years younger than I am. I understand that there are things SHE would not wear, but I certainly would, and vice versa. Like I said, I really don’t have a problem with my age. Or do I? Her statement left me feeling vulnerable, insecure and emotionally naked. I took her statement to mean that SHE was far too young for that sweater, but I was old, so it was just fine on me...catastrophe. I should have gone out in a pair of polyester elastic waist pants, orthopaedic shoes, and a shirt with “grandma” printed on the front of it. It would have made me feel just about the same way. I tried to brush the comment off, as I know she meant no harm by it, but all I could think about was running out the door, going home and crawling under the covers to hide. So much for me being sexy and going out on the town. I bet Carrie never said that to Samantha on Sex in the City. Bill and I finished our drinks and left. And I did go home, crawl under the sheets, and cry. I’m pathetic, I know.

The next day I woke up in a funk, but as the day wore on, my funk was replaced with something more hopeful. Bill made it a point to tell me more than once that no matter what ANYONE else thought, to him, I was the most beautiful woman on the planet. And I realized that, at some point, we will all be older. It’s like trying to stop the inevitable. It’s ok to look “good for my age.” Honestly, I don’t want to be in my twenties, or even thirties, again. And for chrissakes, if I look at the photos of myself “back in the day” I look so much better now. Back then, I was too busy trying to look more “sophisticated” which usually made me look far older than I really was. Now, I’m more relaxed about myself, and where I am in my life. It’s all part of the package.

But to my friend, and you know who you are...I love you with ALL my heart, but rest assured, you’ll be getting that sweater, all wrapped up with ribbons, on your 45th birthday. ;o) Time marches on, dragging us along with it, kicking and screaming.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wishing away the years…

I was reading a post on a friend’s Facebook page the other day. She’s a new mom, excited about everything her daughter is doing, and how fast she is progressing in the things that she is learning on a minute by minute basis. Her tiny girl was learning how to pull herself up and managing to stand for a few seconds before she fell backwards on her bottom. It took me back to those days when Tricia was a baby, and each hurdle she crossed deserved an Olympic medal. I cherish those memories. I miss those moments.

I was struck how this new mom had lost the opportunity to simply enjoy each of her daughter’s accomplishments on its own merit. Instead, she was contemplating when she would start crawling, then walking or talking. I felt sad for her in ways that only time can explain adequately to her. Why is it that, as parents, we have such a difficult time finding the magic in what our child is doing right here, right now? I can remember being guilty of this myself. It usually happened when I was sleep deprived, or covered in mashed peas, or walking the floors for hours with a crying infant who could not be consoled. There are plenty of instances when being a parent is the hardest thing in the world, and your only wish is that they were all grown up and heading off to college. Sometimes though, I would sneak into her room while she was sleeping just to stare at her, often for an hour or more. In my mind, she was the most beautiful, most precious gift I had ever been given. She still is.

When I reflect upon those first years when Tricia was still a baby, the overriding emotion I feel these days is regret for those first years not having lasted longer. It was like I blinked and the years were gone. The baby was there for only an instant. Now, I look at her, on the verge of teenage-dom, rolling her eyes at me, and relishing each moment that she gets under my skin. We clash often, but by the end of the day, we are usually back at center – complete with hugs and I love yous, and for this I am truly thankful. She is my heart on my sleeve, my faith that there really is a God out there somewhere. But more and more, I find myself wishing that she was still in my arms, her head on my shoulder, that irresistible “baby smell” clinging to my nostrils. The thought of it can literally bring me to tears.

I think the fair thing in life would be to have them be babies for five years and teenagers for a year, instead of the other way around. And my advice to any new parent? Enjoy every moment. Soon enough, they’re talking back, and wanting to spend more time with their friends than with you. They’re embarrassed by your singing in the car, and they wish you could be like “all the other parents”, whatever the hell that means. THAT is when it would be soooo nice to have the baby back, all snuggled up, and still unable to talk. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Common added to the endangered species list

I’m not sure how or when it happened, but common sense has definitely become a rare occurrence in the world. I notice it when I’m driving, when I’m at the mall, when I’m in the grocery store. It has fallen by the wayside like so many other memorable things – personal responsibility, etiquette, handwritten notes, leg warmers, portable cd players. I fully expected leg warmers and walkmans to eventually become extinct. Thank God, leg warmers are now only visible in dance classes (where they belong) and goodwill stores. Walkmans, well I’m not exactly sure where they have all ended up, but I’m pretty sure someday someone on an archaeological excavation site will be wondering what the hell they are and why they are everywhere. It almost makes you wish you could be there, watching, just waiting to see the look on their faces when they dig up all the crap we’ve left behind.

I had hoped that common sense would be one of those things that would be plentiful for many years to come, like spandex. (I’m in big trouble if spandex disappears.) But alas, I see it disappearing at a truly alarming rate. You’ve witnessed it, I know you have…every time some idiot can’t figure out how to pick the appropriate line at the DMV, or how to blow the leaves out of his yard and not make them land in his neighbor’s yard. I saw it this week in the news, all over the news in fact - every time some journalist or pundit pointed the finger at Sarah Palin or partisan politics, calling either or both the reason for the Arizona shootings, I shook my head in disbelief. Maybe, JUST maybe, it was the fault of a seriously deranged and mentally ill individual who was on a mission, and who managed to buy a gun. That was what common sense told me. Apparently a lot of people missed that memo. Or they simply wanted someone more interesting to blame, because the common sense answer to this unspeakable horror wasn’t sensational enough to generate the ratings they want. Whatever their reasoning, I found it to be sickening. People were seriously injured and people died, a child died. Families were devastated and lives were changed, all at the hands of a 22 year old with a smirk I can’t seem to erase from my mind. I believe his facial expression from his photo is right up there with photos of Charles Manson. And by the way, no one ever blamed partisan politics or whatever right wing extremist was in the headlines back in the day for the evil that was in Manson’s heart, even though he was very politically motivated, as well as a nut case. What I’m trying to say is that all the finger pointing in the world is not going to bring back the sparkle in that child’s eyes. It was like a bright star in the sky was simply snuffed out. My heart broke into a thousand pieces for all of the victims and their families, but particularly for that child’s family. There was definitely no common sense involved in that situation.

I’d like to see a resurgence in common sense, from everyone. I’d like to see politicians use common sense when making life altering decisions on behalf of their constituents. I’d like to see a LOT more common sense from our government in general, although I’m not holding my breath for that one. I’d like to see a great deal more common sense from strangers that I pass, from friends and family. I do believe that if people would simply STOP and THINK before taking action or opening their mouths, we’d all find that there is more common sense in the world than we think.