Age Ain’t a Number, It’s Just a Perspective by Melissa Swedoski
When I agreed to marry a man 13 years my junior, I wasn’t thinking too clearly. That is to say, I was so giddy with excitement, that I didn’t take my usual pros/cons approach and fashion a list of why this is a good/bad idea. Yes, I was that really annoyingly organized.
I can remember going out with a much younger male co-worker on what I thought was just a friendly outing. Which it was, in the beginning. We went to a country nightclub, where we shot pool, had a couple of drinks and danced once or twice. After an evening of what I now recognize as lame passes, he was driving me home and point blank asked, “What would it take to convince you to go on a real date with me?” Without even thinking twice I said, “About five years.”
And yet here I am, smack dab in the middle of middle age, with two little girls and a 30-year-old husband, wondering, where did all the time go? It’s not so much feeling older as it is feeling wiser. Um…yeah, okay, not so much. It’s more of an awareness of what has happened in the last 43 years while I was busy just getting by in this thing called life.
My father, who was 29 when I was born – an old parent in 1970 – rarely comments on my lifestyle. He has learned over many years that I am not the child to try and impart advice upon. I will either bow up, argue, or just laugh and say, “Yeah, whatever.” That hasn’t really changed. But I find myself listening to him these days, not so much for nuggets of life wisdom, but more so because I have some kind of sense – fear? – that I shouldn’t waste the time we do have together, especially watching him with his only grandchildren, who think “ga-pa” is simply wonderful.
For some reason – probably the stupid woman in Walmart who called my 1 year old my granddaughter – I’ve been thinking about my kids and how they will feel when they finally figure out that I’m an “older mom.” I know, I know. Kids don’t recognize age, just that you love them. But one day, they will. One day, some preteen or tween or teenager will make a snarky comment about me, and it will set their little wheels turning.
“Mom is kind of old,” Baby #1 will say. “Yeah, she’s always been old,” Baby #2 will say. “No, I mean, like, she’s old, older than my friends’ moms,” Baby #1 will reply. “Do you think there’s something wrong with her?” Baby #2 will ask. “Maybe. You know old people get soft bones and hunched over and stuff,” Baby #1 will say. “She does seem kind of hard of hearing,” Baby #2 will offer. “Maybe we shouldn’t ask her about going to the concert. It might give her a heart attack,” Baby #1 will wisely devise. “Right, that happens to old people a lot,” Baby #2 will agree.
Now, I’d love to think I’m going to be the super trim, super healthy, wrinkle-free, young-looking 50- or 60-something mom that they can be proud of, and not ask me to drop them off two houses down from their friend’s or a block away from the movie theater. But the reality is, youth take a dim view of their elders. At least when it comes to hipness quotient. Even though head banging in the car now seems funny and mom is hilarious, head banging when I’m 58 might seem foolish to them, at least for a while.
Note to self: save enough money to get them their own car as soon as possible.
My husband downplays my worries, or teases me about being the “old lady” in the house. Maybe I do think about it too much. Or maybe it’s a combination of feeling like I haven’t accomplished what I set out to do so many years ago – make a difference in this world. But maybe, I’m starting to think, making a difference for my kids is all I really needed to make time for in the first place. And, I suppose, there’s still enough of that in these 43-year-old bones to go around.
Tags: aging gracefully, babies, children, daughter, family, kids, later mom, later parenting, love, marriage, midlife mother, midlife motherhood, moms, motherhood, older mom, parenting, raising a family, toddlers