Saturday, November 30, 2013

Middle Aged

In the last month a student slipped and called me "grandma". At least twice a month someone slips and says, "mom..." as they come up to talk to me, but never grandma.  On the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's death, our principal told the school that he "was in 2nd grade when that happened." Keep in mind that makes him 57-years-old. One of my other students asked, "How old were you? Were you like in college or something?" "Do I look older than Mr. Principal?" I asked. His reply was to stare at me and tilt his head a little, reminding me of my dog, Max, when faced with a difficult choice. It made me wonder, am I really middle aged, or am I just boring? I don't think I'm middle aged. I don't think I've reached half my lifespan. I don't think when I am twice my age now, I'll up and die. Both sides of the family tend to live well into their elderly years. Friends from college will tell me about things I've said or done, but I don't have the foggiest idea what they are talking about. It sounds like something I'd do, but I sure wish I could remember it. Noah has an ap on his phone that plays high pitch noises, to check if you are deaf. Even my half deaf spouse can hear the tones before I can. I constantly squint because I can't see. Last night Ethan asked me why I was so mad at the TV being I was glaring at it. Yet, if I wear my glasses, I can't read. I went to do a load of laundry the other day and there was a load in there. I don't remember putting a load of laundry in the washer. So there it is. I'm losing my hearing, my eyesight, and my mind. I also tire easily. I think about when Ethan was born and wonder how could I have a baby, a toddler, be a full-time kindergarten teacher, and not drop from exhaustion. These days, all it takes is a particularly long math lesson and I am all in. I look at pictures of myself when the kids were small and wish I could go back and tell myself so many things. I've realized now that I'm no longer in my late 20's the emotional drama of growing up is behind me; the physical perils of aging are still to come.In the past few years it is easier to be grateful… and fearful. I am an expert on more things than I care to be, and I realize that most of my life has been of my own making. Yes, I've been dealt cards that are both good and bad, but ultimately, I was and am the one who plays them. With that realization comes a feeling of late great responsibility. I'm coming to terms with how many moments, days, and months have been squandered. Each day I promise to do better, but I know that I probably won't. I'm not a risk taker, and I like my warm house, pajamas and bed too much.
Maybe I am middle aged. In the past year, I left the house without make-up three times. That is one and a half more times than I had all together ever before.The number of people I need to look presentable for has declined. As has the term "presentable". I'm not talking Walmart Presentable, but normal matching, hair combed, etc... My favorite outfit is a pair of flannel pajamas and the best part of each day is when I can climb into bed.
In the past few years, my tolerance for mean people has hit rock bottom. Life is too short to spend any energy on bullies. I wish I cared that I'm not "in" with the "cool" 5-grade-basketball player moms. But I don't care. I find it more ironic that the "cool moms" have bratty kids, and I don't. Mean people are easier to eliminate from your life, while also easier to understand now that I'm middle aged. My life is full of fleeting moments of bliss and despair, mostly despair, as I watch my children grow up into independent teenagers. Thanking the universe that I raised them well in one breath, and wondering what will become of them in the other. Despite hard evidence that they are actually going to turn out okay, I remain fearful that the really deep-seeded neuroses won’t manifest itself for a few more years. Hey- they inherited a big dose of crazy from both sides. In the past few years I find myself constantly counting my blessings while at the same time trying to calculate when my luck will run out. It's at those times I remind myself, it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you. 

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