Thursday, December 6, 2007

Getting older

I can't lie about my age - I made the mistake of letting my kids know how old I was, several years ago, and naturally, they can't remember what day of the week it is, but they remember that one instance and can even do the math to figure out how old I am now! So I'm 49 today. Not as impressive as the big 5-0 but getting there. Tom Lehrer is a comedic songwriter from the 60s, who warped my perspective early on with songs like "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park" and "The Masochism Tango" - he used to get a huge laugh with his line, "When I want to get depressed, I think about the fact that when Mozart was my age, he'd been dead for 5 years." My equivalent version is realizing that when my mother was my age, she was already hinting about wanting grandchildren! My brother was in graduate school, my sister was married, and I had already lived the starving artist life in New York for 5 years after college graduation, and had moved to San Francisco in an attempt to meet straight men.
This morning, the Today show had a panel of men talking about turning 50. How timely, right? Most of the discussion involved how men struggle with talking about and acknowledging their feelings, and let's just say, that's never been my problem. My kids are actually pretty used to it - one evening I came into our bedroom, and my husband was snuggled up next to Ben (the 11-year-old), reading together before bedtime, and I was so overwhelmed, I burst into tears. The next night, Ben tried to recreate the moment, telling Scott how to sit, saying "Let's make mom cry again!" (Side note - medical studies have analyzed the chemical composition of various types of tears, and there is a stress hormone released in emotional tears which is not present in tears shed when your eyes water from irritation or other sources - so actually, it's GOOD for us to cry!)
Anyway, listening to these men talk about the various issues they were facing, and how rare it was for men to have those conversations, made me grateful yet again to be a woman, and to have women friends with whom I'm comfortable complaining about perimenopausal symptoms or reassuring each other we're still cute enough to shop at Forever 21.
And at least so far I'm fine with this whole aging thing. When someone asked my father if he was upset about turning 70, he said, "Hell, no, not when I consider the alternative!" That's one way of looking at the glass half-full - but I also have so much to look forward to, and while it would be fun to do all those things with 20-year-old knees and a less sagging jawline, I wouldn't give up my wealth of experiences for a return to the bounciness and cluelessness of youth. I may feel differently next year - but for now, I'm wearing my Forever 21 top and fun dangling earrings and feeling pretty darned cute!

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