Guest blogger Blythe Newsome: There are times when I realize that 40 is definitely not the new 20. Now, by no means do I see myself as an old maid, nor do I hear the Grim Reaper calling my name. But I have to confess that there are some parts of getting older that make me want to yell, "Can somebody please get me some Prozac, because I think this is making me depressed!"
The good news is that those thoughts are usually very brief, since my memory seems to be going. Yesterday, one of the kids was disrespectful to me, and it took five tries to call her by the right name. By the time I finally got it out, all of the kids at the table were so confused, each thinking that he or she was the one in trouble.
My aunt says that she uses a book with brain games in it to keep her mind sharp. That would be a great idea, except that my 20/20 vision seems to be a thing of the past, too. Over the last year, I have noticed that when I look at my phone to see who's calling, I am holding it further and further away. I finally caved in and bought a pair of drugstore glasses. I had no idea how blurry things had been until I put them on and was amazed by how easy it was to see everything! Then I made the mistake of glancing in the mirror when I had them on -- and got a clear glimpse of my body for the first time in years. This morning, those glasses were conveniently under my right rear tire when I backed out of the driveway.
Speaking of phones, if you have a teenager, you probably know that in order to communicate now, you have to learn the art of texting. I mean, seriously: What do all of those abbreviations mean?! My daughter sends messages that always end with "Ily". It used to baffle me. Then one day I asked if that was her code for me, so she wouldn't be embarrassed in front of her friends that she was texting her mom. She laughed and said it meant "I love you".
Since I can't see what I am texting, I asked my daughter to text something for me. In doing so, she changed the settings on my phone, so that whenever I start to type in a word, the phone tries to outsmart me and guess the word all on its own. It's like being married to a man who tries to finish my sentences ... and gets them wrong. I start to type in "t-h-a," and it pulls up "they, there, that," when all I wanted to say was "Thanks". Even my phone is being impatient because I am older and slower. Why can't it just let me type in a word at my own pace?
Another undeniable truth about getting older is that my metabolism has begun to slow down. Why is it that we
can't retire from our jobs until we are in our mid-60s, but our metabolism can retire before it has even put in a good 40 years? I have earned the right to sit on the couch and eat a pint of ice cream without it going directly to my thighs. But who am I kidding? I can't eat ice cream, anyway: The older I get, the more I swear I am becoming lactose intolerant. The other day, I went to lick the dripping ice cream off of my Finn's ice-cream cone and had a mental discussion with myself to not eat too much or I would be bloated all night. When did I become my grandmother?
I still dream of being a clothing size in the single digits. But the older I get, the more I realize that even though I could (slowly) lose some weight, my body seems to have lost all of its elasticity. Suddenly, gravity has taken a firm grip, and everything on my body is being pulled south. I would get some kind of a lift, but I don't seem to be able to convince my health-insurance company that all of the things that are sagging could be a fall hazard.
The older I get, the less sleep I need, too. I look at my teenagers and wonder: Did I ever sleep that much? Every morning, like clockwork, my body wakes up before sunrise; by afternoon, I am dreaming about taking a little snooze. I actually fell asleep the other night at 7:45 PM and drooled -- only to wake up at 9:00 PM and feel rested and ready for the day ....
Whoever gave the advice to "grow old gracefully" must have been in their 20s. But there is a beautiful part of aging, one that I wish I could teach my children: learning to embrace where you are in life right now, and learning to laugh out loud -- even if it is at yourself. That makes all the saggy, blurry, lactose-intolerant parts of life worth living.