I am having a great deal of trouble embracing my chronological age. Recently I started taking Chair Yoga – not because I’m old, of course, but because I have bad knees. I looked around the class and thought, “Wow, I am the baby of this group. These women are all elderly, with white hair.” When I learned their actual ages, to my surprise I was NOT the baby of the group at all. I was kind of in the middle. So if THEY seemed elderly to me, then I must be elderly, too. Mere hair coloring cannot mask that fact.
Then my denial gland went into overdrive. I tried to convince myself that these very nice women never went to hear live rock and roll, and that was why they were elderly whereas I was not. But then I remembered going to a live show where people in the audience came in wheeling oxygen tanks. The performer, whose records I bought in 1972, walked out with a cane. THIS IS MY DEMOGRAPHIC. Get with the program, Randi.
My mother hated growing older. I thought I would be different, but it’s hard to escape those lessons. “The doctor couldn’t believe I was actually 68,” she would gloat. She used to joke that I shouldn’t stand next to her because, as her eldest child, I would give away her age. You can’t have a 30-year-old daughter and still pretend to be 40. But she seemed old to me. She went to the hair salon once a week and kept that hair-sprayed ‘do going without ever washing it. I go once a month for coloring and I run out before the woman can style my hair. She wore sparkly synthetic clothes like Beverly from The Goldbergs. I wear cotton t-shirts, hoodies and jeans. She wore high heels even in the snow. I am the queen of comfort shoes. So I didn’t think I was like her in any way, but I guess I am when it comes to refusing to embrace my age.
Some nights, when I come home from the office at 8 or 9 pm, and I’m carrying two bags full of work, waddling like a penguin over a driveway covered in ice and hoping not to fall and break my hip, I definitely feel my age. I am so freaking tired of going to work every day. But ironically, I am still too young to retire, although I am counting the days (under 1,000!).
I have a very cranky left knee, and even though I can still stroll through New York City for the day, I pay for it for several days thereafter, as the cranky knee makes its feelings known. And whose spotty, crepe-y hands are on my steering wheel? What’s that hanging neck stuff all about? What about all those pills?
I guess the consolation prize for getting older is the wonderful world of grandmotherhood, of course, but also a real sense of understanding about life and its realities. I have much more certainty about what I like and what I don’t like, as well as what people I like and don’t like. I am not spending time with unlikeable people any more, if I can help it, and I really don’t care what anyone thinks about that. In fact, I don’t care what anyone thinks about an increasing number of things. I’m not all the way there yet, but definitely closer. I listen to my inner voice much more than I ever did, which means I don’t MAKE myself do stuff just because I think I should. I am at the stage of life where I rarely have regrets: just make a decision and live with it, and stop pondering the “what if” nonsense. That’s really liberating.
So in a begrudging, on the fence, mixed message kind of way, I guess I am starting to embrace being a Woman of a Certain Age. I hope I have the opportunity to look back in 20 years and laugh at myself for thinking I was old at only 62!