I am 35. And despite what I thought of 35 when I was 18, I now know that 35 is not even remotely old. I’m young to have a 14 year old, I know that. And I still act young, at least most of the time. I like to go out dancing with my friends. I can usually almost keep up with Spike in a game of basketball in the driveway. I love roller coasters and I’d go bungee jumping or skydiving in a heartbeat if given the chance. And most of the time, I look around at my husband and three kids and job and mortgage, and wonder how they all got here when I still feel like I’m about 21. See? Not old.
But then every once in a while, I have a day when I feel incredibly ancient. When I look around at the way we’re talking and the things we’re doing and I think…Oh no!! We’re old!! Sometimes it’s when Sarge and I get caught up in talking about his retirement fund and how to best save for those years. Sometimes it’s when I’m sitting on the floor for a long time and I have to make grunting noises to hoist myself back up onto my feet. It’s not often, but there are days when I stop and think Yikes! Yesterday was one of those days. Or evenings, actually.
The day started off as usual. I dragged myself out of bed, went to work, and then went to my parents’ house to see our extended family and to celebrate some family birthdays. No problem, right? Typical stuff. We came home, put the two youngest kids to bed early after a busy weekend, and turned on The Amazing Race. Still fine. It’s after that that it gets scary. Once The Amazing Race was over, there was nothing really on television. And it was only 9:00. After flipping the channels for a while, we finally turned on a show on the Travel channel…some show about Alaskan wildlife. And we watched it. With interest!!
Now don’t get me wrong. I think documentaries are wonderful. They have great educational value and I’m glad they exist. In fact, I would be thrilled to walk into the family room and find my children glued to the tv screen watching a documentary about Alaskan wildlife, or rainforests, or sandstorms in the Middle East, or African insects, or whatever. Especially in place of the Hannah Montana or iCarly or Spongebob (please!! no more Spongebob!!) -type shows that they usually turn to. And I would not be surprised at all to walk into my parents’ family room to find them watching a documentary on World War II or America’s National Parks or The Seven Wonders of the World or Earthquakes. See? I like documentaries! They’re wonderful for children! And old people!
But here’s the problem. In the last couple of months, Sarge and I have watched two other shows that I see as “old people” shows. First there was the time we were flipping through the channels and stopped for several long moments paused on The Celtic Woman on PBS. Now again…lovely show. Lovely women with lovely voices. And being primarily Irish myself, I value Celtic music and all that it embodies. And yet….I am not quite prepared to watch The Celtic Woman on TV. It’s for old people, right??
Another time, there was a show on PBS that was just comprised of a whole lot of violinists. Like, orchestra violinists. And there was one young man…I think it said he was 18 or something…that was outstanding on that violin. It really was something to watch. The orchestra would play something leading up to his solo, and then he would go to town on those strings and make some pretty remarkable sounds from his violin. It was amazing. Really. But again, PBS airs it primarily for other violinists…and old people. NOT for young and hip couples in their 30’s.
So back to my story…and on to the REALLY frightening part. We finished watching the Alaskan wildlife channel at 10:00, and then…wait for it…we went to bed. At 10. Seriously…we really are old. We barely had the teenager in bed at that point! And yet, we were both ready for bed, practically falling asleep in our recliners. Ug.
Now again, I have a little bit of an excuse. Since my sister passed away a month ago, I have been almost constantly exhausted. I think it’s my body making me take time to grieve in a busy life. And admittedly, in an already busy life, I have taken on more responsibility (happily so!) since she’s gone. I am more active in the lives of her two little girls…caring for them on Wednesdays and helping my brother-in-law when I can. And this means that my time at home is limited as well, so that when I am home, I am always cleaning or doing laundry or whatever. It’s also been an incredibly busy few weeks, with a couple more busy weeks ahead. I get that…I get it that I SHOULD be tired and that it’s okay. But that doesn’t make me feel better when I climb into bed at 10:00 and fall immediately to sleep. It just makes me feel, well, old.
I just never want to be one of those women, you know? Someone who loses herself in the caring for her children. Someone who stops wearing makeup or stylish clothes that fit well and making herself look pretty because she just doesn’t have time, or because she’s exhausted. I want to go out with my friends and stay out until 2am. (or later!) I want to travel the world and run from subway station to subway station in London without getting out of breath or complaining about my aching knees. I want to be able to have a real conversation about my life without needing to talk about my children because there’s nothing left of me. Especially since seeing the deaths of two people in my life in the last month, both who were under the age of 45, I want to live as much as I can.
I know, I know. Watching a documentary about Alaskan wildlife (or even the Celtic Woman!) and going to bed at 10 does not mean I can’t do all those things. That doesn’t mean I can’t live life to the fullest. I get that. It just made me stop and think…wait a minute! is this how I want to be spending my time? What else can I be doing with my life right now? That’s my point. That’s all I mean. I just don’t want to act old yet. I’m still so young.
So the moral of the story is….(and I mean this!!) if you ever catch me watching old Laurence Welk reruns, you officially have permission to slap me.