Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Is 50 the new 15?

When I look in the mirror, I see the face of someone who has viewed multiple moons and walked many miles.  The role call of visible proof is met mostly with positive responses:  Gray hairs?  Check.  Crow’s feet?  Check.  Visible signs of weathering motherhood, marriage and life?  Checkedy, check-check.  Gosh, I think if I saw me from across the room, I might say, “Hmm… there’s a well-seasoned, well-rounded individual who might know a thing or two about life.”  In fact, when I really do catch a glimpse of my rounded, salt & peppered self by accident, I sort of think, “Ooh!  When did that grown-up get here?”


Most of the time, I must say that I’m pretty comfortable with my own mature self – but all that comes undone when my parental units, aunts and uncles or their peers speak to me.  One quip from them about my appearance or my opinions and I am right back to being a teenager, unsure of who I am, what I’m doing and what I believe.  It makes me wonder exactly how old I have to be before I am considered one of the adults?  Maybe when that AARP magazine starts landing on your doorstep it should come with a laminated permission slip to emotionally rise above the holiday kids table.


I don’t know about anybody else, but my brain is constructed a bit like one of those funhouse mazes, but instead of goblins and ghouls lurking about, it is the spirit of my elders still rattling around, ready to pop out when I least expect it.  I can be standing in the aisles of the grocery store, eyeing a jar of peanut butter I’m considering placing in my grocery cart when up pops one of the specters, like a jack-in-the-box, bobbing and weaving in my line of vision saying, “Tsk-tsk.  You know it’s a minute on the lips and a lifetime on your hips, don’t you?  You might as well just mainline fat and sugar.”  It’s even worse when I’m in a dressing room sliding into a most comfy pair of jeans that are needed to replace the pair I’ve lived in daily for five years.  A voice booms from the rafters and the mirror begins undulating before me, distorting the original image of thirty seconds ago, “Oh, no.  You can’t possible exit this room wearing that!  Women your age don’t dress like this.  You know you don’t have the body for jeans.”


Somewhere there’s a therapist who can probably explain all this, but I have neither the time nor money to pursue the answers.  It’s also true that misery surely does appreciate its company, as I’ve found I’m not alone in this spinning tea party of parental-like mad hatters.  I have pages and pages of anecdotal notes of people who still feel like children in the presence of certain people, despite having been granted the rights to drive, vote, drink and ultimately pay half-price at Denny’s, all generally considered to be documented signs of adulthood.


Real Simple magazine recently held their Second-Annual Life Lessons Contest asking, “When did you first realize you were a grown-up?”  I attempted to answer this question in less than 1,500 words, but found at the end of the document I had no true answer and a lot more questions.  [Yeah, I know – see the above-mentioned therapist in the previous paragraph.]


In the carnival that passes for brains in my head there is also a midway section that tortures me with sideshow images like The-Way-Things-Could-Be: Step right up and see the mother who finally accepts her daughter’s never-ending love of Swing Music, Harry Connick Jr. and Paul McCartney and loves her anyway despite her refusal to embrace Billy Holiday, Jazz and Tower of Power!  There’s also a whole game section devoted to Fashion vs. Comfort and what I perceive as the sadomasochistic cruelty of shoulder pads and high heels, but I’ll spare you the details and loss of your change.


There is a part of me that believes the parental voices and overpowering opinions of elders will fade as I my own voice gets louder in the heads of my children, because I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve pulled a few classic gems out of my own head to use on them.  Statements like, “You’re not wearing THAT are you?” or “Of course you look lovely, but I’m partial to a little less eyeliner, I guess.”  I know.  Somebody stop me before I shrill again.


Until my social security statements begin arriving in the mail (mostly likely marked IOU by then), I think I will have to turn my iPod up, like a teenager, to drown out the noise.  Will you still need me?  Will you still feed me?  When I’m 64?  And more importantly, by then, maybe 60 will be the new 25 and I’ll at least look good in my jeans.

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