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Oh, if I could only wiggle my nose and make it all disappear.
It took a chance meeting with a very young mother at Lizzie’s new kindergarten class to drive me out of the Midlife Mom closet to come clean about my miserable life.
Why? Because, until then, I had blamed more than half of my misery on my perimenopausal, raging-midlife-crisis while thirty-pounds-overweight, state of motherhood—and I dared not complain.
After all, it was my choice to spread it and bear progeny after 40, wasn’t it? If I’m incapable of leaping, gazelle-like, after my young, dewy-cheeked children as they streak across a parking lot like a spitting wild pack of Tasmanian Devils, well, I’d best just shut the hell up, hadn’t I?
After all, as Jimmy Buffett is fond of singing in “Margaritaville (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=6cbX4DUACYU),” “but I know—it’s my own damn fault!”
But only a few days ago, all that changed.
Last Friday, I volunteered as a driver and chaperone for Lizzie’s kinder class trip to a local apple ranch, famous for its pure, all-natural apple juice and “homemade” pies.
It was only after I’d packed the aging 2002 Expedition to the brim with 4 jabbering kids and 3 suffocating adults that my sense of “weird” began to kick in.
Navigating down bumpy dirt roads, while my front seat passenger—a chatty Muslim mom sporting a hijab (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Hijab)—tried to keep me entertained, I zoned out with abstract thoughts about how many more pounds of weight it would take to blow a tire, or if we’d be like all the finger-people wriggling under the imaginary church steeple if I just happened to roll the car on a country bend.
Finally, it was when we broke for lunch on a grassy knoll—happily bereft of snipers—that I experienced the revelation.
I was seated beside a young mother trying to contain her young, gamboling kindergarten boy, as my Lizzie played in the grass beside him.
The young mother’s glowing, flawless complexion, clear eyes with skin that failed to crinkle when squinting, and taut body that had sprung perfectly back to its original form after birthing children, all attested to one thing: she couldn’t be more than 30 years old.
Yet, she sat there frowning and yawning. When I introduced myself, she barely cracked a smile, as if the weight of the entire world was borne on her shoulders.
A little conversation was as good as a tell-all. She was the mother of two boys—and that was enough for her. One was the kinder boy who frolicked in the grass; there other had ADHD and was medicated, while attending 4th grade.
When she wasn’t managing them, she was up at the crack of dawn to work at the family-run business—her other ball and chain.
For me, it was hard to imagine being miserable at her age.
In my early 30’s, I was blazing a trail across the pubs of Europe. My eyes hadn’t even begun to twinkle with embryonic musings about birthing babies.
If she was finding it tough—with all of her youth, vigor and prime of life—then I must be entitled to give vent, certainly!
Since I pulled Lizzie out of kinder 3 weeks ago, I’ve had to make an appointment with myself just to have time to breathe.
My time is now entailed to two schools with double-dip mandatory parent volunteer hours. Now there’s an oxymoron for you—the modern school age makes us Mandatory Volunteers!
Today, the principal of Lizzie’s new school was preaching to the parents in the courtyard about the need for “volunteers” for an upcoming fundraiser like a recruiter of sailors for a British frigate from the late 18th century. Those who lingered drunkenly in the crowd would find themselves press-ganged (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Impressment) into Her Majesty’s service by morning.
In Alex’s school fundraiser we were Mandatory Volunteers for attendance—ergo, even if we couldn’t make it, nobody minded, as long as we paid up for the 6 admission tickets doled out in advance, whether we used them or not.
When I was growing up, homework was for kids. These days, as one of the mothers recently remarked, we’re all going back to grade school–re-living the dream–and supervising our kids homework.
And homework isn’t the child’s play it was 40 years ago, no sir. Alex’s homework now grown into the ghoulish monstrosity of 1.5 hours a night—and God in Heaven help us if we forget to put a proper heading on the work sheet. Sometimes I wonder if TPS Reports (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/TPS_report) are next.
I’m so exhausted from this ridiculous schedule, every morning feels like getting up to Chopin’s Funeral March (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=8Fg9hdAiQMQ).
One morning last week, I discovered the skin fold above my right eye had become a peanut-sized papoose—overnight. In fact, I was sure I could fit Lizzie’s entire morning snack up there.
Every day along my journey into Old Bagdom, I become a reluctant but ever-evolving advocate of cosmetic surgery.
I weigh almost as much as I did during my third trimester carrying Alex, only worse. At least then I had the fresh glow of an expectant mother. Now, I look like the fat, middle-aged old bag I promised myself I’d never turn into.
And it’s not by choice. If I could actually manage a life where I could give the gym more time than a drive-by shooting and I had the bandwidth to actually make a salad, rather than eating left over Goldfish (no need to explain what those are!) cracker crumbs on plastic Dora plates, it would be a different ballgame.
It’s not lack of motivation. It’s a shortage of time. Which eventually leads to shortage of breath.
Am I advocating against later life motherhood? No. Age is not the problem. Modern parenthood and the gargantuan expectations we place upon ourselves as parents is.
The reckless speed at which we live in supporting our children cannot be maintained—not unless you’re Samantha out of the 1960’s TV show, Bewitched (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=d5rlHW8Du20&feature=related).
We need to slow it down.
As much as I’d never thought I’d say this, I’m a humble convert: Bring back the days of Little House On The Prairie. At least, for a little while.
Notes for this blog:
For Celebrating Motherhood After 40 T-shirts for moms and kids, go to:
http://www.achildafter40.com/store/ (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/store/)
Visit the Flower Power Mom main site at:
http://www.achildafter40.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)
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