It started during the last half of 2000. As a kid, I didn’t think I’d be alive in the year 2000. After all I’d be turning 50 that December. Hahaha. Too old to be taking up space on earth. As I inched closer to that date, I realized my life wasn’t close to being over. It was just another milestone (they happen to all of us). I didn’t feel old. A couple years prior I had finally taken a more serious approach to the state of my health. (Women in their 40’s are prime targets for weight gains without changing their eating habits, body shifting/everything spiraling downward, sagging, except our pants and frequent, erratic reminders of everyone’s favorite-the arrival of menopause). I lost a bunch of weight and started walking ‘with purpose’ everyday. I felt great! But there were disturbing events creeping me out as I neared my 50th birthday.
A mere forty-eight hours after accepting/embracing the fact that I was starting my 51st year on God’s great earth, I came to grips with the grim reality. Shannon (my firstborn) was turning 30. That’s. Impossible. How could this be? I had literally just given birth to her, blinked once, then watched her as a 16 year old, winning a trophy in competitive cheer, gyrating to ‘Wipeout’ by the Fat-boys. It simply was not feasible that in the next minute, she was a 30 year old adult. Adding credence to this fact in the best way possible, Shannon was already mom to our firstborn grandchild, Ariana, who was almost 10 (making me a grandma at 40) and Landon, (not yet Drew to the rest of the world) 3 months old.
As far as milestones go, I think I accept/acknowledge the challenges before me with a loosey-goosey attitude. (Grateful to wake up each morning). But I’m not as lackadaisical about events that surround my milestones. One step in my aging process where I was completely out of whack for decades was my hair. Oh vanity, thy name is Neese. That short phase started when I was 35 and much too young to have more grey hair than brown already. I thought I’d get a ‘sign’ when the right time was right to let my hair grow out naturally. But as my mini-milestones zipped by at warp speed, for some unknown reason, I was not ready to stop the vicious cycle of my monthly scalp’s consumption of L’Oréal #7. I thought my compulsion for continuous dye jobs might wane after 5 years but it actually took me 33 years before looking in the mirror one morning and saying, “ok, I’m done. I’m ready to see how God intended me to look at age 68.” (Ok, He’d be more pleased with me dropping 20). I hear ‘ya God but it’s hard.
So while I’ve been ok with the constant status changes in my own life, I’m somewhat reluctant to accept I’m old enough for all the other ‘things’ that go along with aging. Wasn’t it last week when Hubs and I drove to the hospital in Dyersville, Iowa to welcome our son Joshua into the world? Didn’t we just experience a harrowing 6 weeks during my last pregnancy, praying everyday that our baby (of undetermined sex) would be born ok? (Adam was breech, face up and looking up my throat instead of having his head tucked down. He was perfect). What happened to that cute young couple on the block with 3 little kids, struggling to make ends meet? That was us one minute ago, yet here we are-great grandparents. The heart of the matter is, I’m ok with getting older, but I’m far less comfortable having my kids roar into their 30’s and 40’s, sprouting grey hair, with their kids hitting junior high, high school and college. Last I noticed, I was in my 40’s. Honest, I was just in my 40’s.
On the other end of the spectrum after becoming an adult were the uncomfortable years of watching my parents age, seeing them decline. I compare it to witnessing (at times, it was not constant) something painful and unpleasant while never fully accepting what’s right in front of your nose. Sort of like wearing a set of blinders. I didn’t want mom and dad to have serious health issues, strokes, cancer and watch as they became frail (and I admit, at times I selfishly resented what was happening to them). Just stay the same and be ok. Please. But time marches on and nothing we can do to stop it. Acceptance can be hard.
After coming to terms with my parent’s end of life experience, I suspect my kids are glancing sideways at their significant other when they look at me sometimes and think, dang she’s kinda stooped over lately, (how come it’s suddenly so hard to stand up nice and straight)? She’s started limping again and packing on a few pounds around her middle (for the umteenth time). And she looks a lot older with white and silver hair.
It’s still hard for me to reconcile the fact my ‘kids’ are no longer little and don’t need their mom. Although none of us are gonna get through this alive, I had no idea my first seventy years would pass me by in the blink of an eye…