I’m 40. When did that happen? I mean, I know the date of my birthday. I know it happened, I just cannot figure out when I got to be so old.
When I was a kid, I remember having to go to bed at 9 p.m. I remember having to be home before dark. I remember wishing time would pass faster so I could have my driver’s license, and today, my daughter was driving ME around. Granted, I was telling her to stay in her lines like she was coloring and to remember the brake, but still, she was driving me, and not the other way around.
I used to dream of the day when I would leave home. I would go to Chicago, live in the big city, and never come home again. I would be very chic and I would have lots of friends and ride in taxis. When I was a teenager, I don’t think I ever aged in my imagination past twenty I didn’t dream of turning 21 because I was never interested in drinking. Up until the second semester of my senior year, I didn’t fantasize of having a husband and children either, but that changed when I met my future husband. Then I did dream of being married. (The children part came shortly after we got married when he looked at me crosswise and I got pregnant.)
I don’t think anyone dreams of what life will be like at forty. Teenagers don’t think, “When I’m forty, I’m going to … sail around the world.” Or “When I’m forty I’m going to learn how to play backgammon.” It’s just not done.
This is forty. My hair is short. My hair has been short for a while now, but in my family when we women get old, we cut our hair. I have now been every size between a size 3 to a 16. There are parts of my body that have fallen and need extra support to stay up. There is a side of my hair that grows faster and thicker than the other and the opposite side the back tends to flip up. I wonder if my freckles are still considered freckles, or if they will become age spots. My eyebrows no longer grow like they used to; only random strays here and there that I can pluck out myself. Spandex is my friend. I use Clinique but wonder if I shouldn’t be using Oil of Olay (AKA, Oil of Old Lady) instead.
I say the phrase “Well, how ‘bout that!” all the time now. I have surpassed sounding like my mother and have gone straight to sounding like my grandmother. I think that makes me an overachiever, doesn’t it?
My daughter, had she had a less dramatic mother, should have her license by now. She doesn’t, because I have been too afraid to let her drive me around. I’m getting a little better about it. Maybe when she is seventeen, I will even let her drive at night or when it rains… or maybe not. I may need a little longer. She may need a little longer. My middle child is right behind her; she will have driver’s ed next summer. And she was just learning how to ride a bike last week. OK, I know it was a minute ago.
My baby? My baby is going to be in double digits. DOUBLE DIGITS! He’s my baby. I know I was rocking him to sleep just yesterday. Today I turn around and I am only a head taller than he is. Granted I’m not especially tall, but still.
In the blink of an eye, it’s not me learning to drive, and it isn’t me dreaming of leaving home and going off to college, or even just driving to the mall alone.
My dreams are more along the lines of going up the stairs without my knees creaking. Wondering how long I can go between coloring my hair. If I don’t color my hair, how long until my entire head is grey? Will I be 45? 50? 60? Will I be doing commercials for urinary incontinence? If I work at the school long enough, will it be “grandma hugs” I give the children, or will I still be able to give mommy hugs when I’m old enough to be a grandma?
If that isn’t enough when I take the kids out for recess at school I yell at them to stay off the grass and stay on the sidewalk till we get onto the playground. I ask my children if they were born in barns. I have said to them to close the door I don’t want to heat/air condition the outdoors. I have become one of the biggest cliché’s in motherhood. This last weekend I went on a date with my husband and I reached over with a napkin to wipe his face. (This did not earn me any favors. He was a bit put out with me for that one.)
Where did the time go? When I was younger the time seemed to pass so slowly. I thought I would never get grown. Now I’m grown and all I want is for time to slow down. It seems to pass so quickly. Days run over each other. Weeks are suddenly months that are gone and years are gone in a blink. I look in the mirror and I see wrinkles that weren’t there before. I look at my children and I am looking up instead of down to look into their eyes. Even the cats seem to be aging rapidly.
We start out and we think we have so much time to do so many things. The fact is we don’t know how much time we have and the older we get the less we have left. We have to decide how we are going to spend what we have. I think I will spend mine enjoying the teenagers telling me I’m old. I will love it when I get to repay the favor someday. I will keep searching for the perfect hair color, refuse to grow my hair out to wear buns, avoid skirts, skorts, and dresses that go well with aprons. I will keep blowing bubbles when I chew gum and enjoy every jam session when I’m home alone. Maybe I will need depends someday but doesn’t that just mean I get to dance longer without stopping to go “gotta go gotta go gotta go right now.”? The sun shines brighter when you look at every day as a gift.
Maybe forty won’t be so bad, after all I have a new haircut, I am narrowing in on the best hair color, and I can make big bubbles even with Trident gum. The upside is I’m old enough I don’t have to apologize for enjoying it.