This was an interesting one to come across because I have been musing on "getting old" and I remember the night that it happened. Naturally, I'm writing about it, so stay tuned to this spot and it will show up here eventually. Meanwhile, here's a #TBT for your general amusement!
|Cindy Eastman circa 1995|
Zen and the Art of Aging
May 8, 1997
When did I get so old!? There was a time when I was the youngest in any given group; work, school, social gatherings. After I gave birth to my daughter, I was still the youngest mother at the play group, the kindergarten orientations, the birthday parties. I remember the day I met the new youngest mom - riding a bumpy school bus accompanying our kindergarten children on a field trip to the high school Vo-Ag building to see cows and pigs. I don’t remember how the subject of age came up, I certainly didn’t initiate it, but my new friend said her birthday was in September and she would be, like, 12 and there I sat quite familiar with my 30’s. Fine, no problem, that’s great. I think I got older after I had my second child. I began to hang out at new play groups and birthday parties with women whose toddlers my son’s age were their first children. I already had an elementary school-aged daughter. Where are all those people who were older than me? Dead?
Getting older never really bothered me much. I enjoyed turning thirty because I felt like a grown up. My mother told me she always liked age 33 because that’s how old Jesus was when he died - a reference I wasn’t sure how to take. My (younger) brother set most of his life goals for age 35 - if he didn’t reach one, he just moved it up a year. No big deal. My sister has never cared one way or the other about age - she is the youngest and my brother and I are always older. My family dynamic doesn’t include age-related expectations, so I don’t feel any pre-ordained failure associated with reaching a particular age. For me, 34 sounded exciting because I read somewhere that I would at last reach my sexual peak. Ironically, 34 is the age I decided to get divorced - unfortunate timing on my part. All in all, the aging process seemed chronologically suitable and I didn’t give it too much thought. Until now.
Here I am, at the brink of 40 and I can’t shake the image of a very precarious cliff at whose edge I am standing, blindfolded. Since I spent most of my 30’s doing the divorce two-step ( two steps forward, two steps back - it’s absurd) I have arrived at this place feeling as if I should have accomplished bigger things, figured out more answers or at least have had the experience of buying a new car. There aren’t too many regrets. I have a couple, like my divorce lawyers, but nothing else I can’t justify given a couple of minutes. There are a few worries that consume me occasionally, but they are situations that I can’t do anything about, like being a single parent. Am I doing a good job, providing enough guidance? Teenagers were meant to have two parents in residence - if only to have someone there to watch your back. But it’s not like I’m going to remarry just to provide a relief parent, so I cross my fingers and hope my parenting is fair and just. According to my 16 year old, it almost never is.
With all the wandering around my mind does, the only straw I can grasp is to keep heading in the direction I’ve chosen. And I did choose this path. Nobody forced me to leave college, get divorced or pass up better jobs so I could stay home with my kids. I did those things on my own with all the wisdom - or lack thereof - each accumulated year imbued. I suppose the ensuing life is exactly what I deserve. I never have enough money, I haven’t been on a plane in 10 years, I’m losing my memory and the gray keeps coming, despite annual attempts at “enhancing” it. ( I seem to find myself in the hair color aisle every year around my birthday) On the plus side, I am raising my kids in person, I’m not stressed out about where to hide my money from the government and if someone runs into my ‘84 Subaru in the parking lot - who cares?
Forty will be tough, I already know that. I should start preparing now, save my pennies for a magnum of champagne and read lots of books on how satisfying it is to meet these milestones head on and alone. I’m pretty sure I can talk myself into anything, if I can remember to.