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I watched a woman pushing a baby in a carriage in the subway station, and when she reached a set of stairs, she lifted the carriage up into the air and ascended the steps with the ease with which one might lift a carton of eggs or a pile of towels.
I was walking a little bit behind her, and by the time I reached the top of the stairs, I was winded. I was carrying a newspaper. This baby business is a younger woman’s game, I thought.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to be having a baby. I’m thrilled science has advanced enough to help a 47-year old woman, nearing menopause to have a child. But my age and that of my husband, Bruce, who will be 51 next month, will undoubtedly be an issue as we raise this kid.
I asked Bruce the other day what he thought would happen first: our child goes to college or our hearing goes. He said, “I think we’ve already lost that race.”
What Happened to Tommy the Tugboat?
Envisioning a playpen, a mechanical swing, maybe a high chair, I jumped at the chance and wondered whether I should drive over in our pick-up truck rather than my small two-seater. When I got there, she started to pick through a box full of small stuffed animals and plucked a couple of them out and placed them in a plastic bag.
Pick-up truck? I could carry this stuff home in my teeth, I thought.
“Oh, Tommy the Tugboat,” I said, as she threw a little rubber boat into the plastic bag.
She turned around and looked at me. “Thomas is a train,” she said.
“Yeah. I knew that,” I said. “So who’s the tugboat?”
“I don’t think he has a name,” she said.
My father was the child of older parents. His father was about 42 when my father was born. My father said he constantly lived in fear that his father would die. Our child may have the same fear –and he’ll be justified. He’ll be lucky if we’re still alive by the time he hits 35.
But age is just one of the problems our child will face.
It’s Not Just That Technology is Alien—It’s The People Who Use It
Bruce and I are a little out of step when it comes to modern technology. A long line of electrical gadgets – the iPod Nano, a GPS device for the car, Sirius radio, an electronic recorder – have all entered our home and remain in their original packaging.
We seem to resist that which we don’t understand, and neither of us has the patience to read instruction manuals for things we’ve already learned to live without.
It’s not just these items that are alien to us. It’s the people who use them. When we were in Nantucket, Bruce and I walked down to the beach and saw a young girl sitting on the sand, texting. We both watched her for a moment, sitting in front of the picturesque Atlantic Ocean on an empty beach, not a cloud in the sky, texting.
As we looked out at the water, I suddenly saw two seals swim by. First their heads peaked out of the water, then their fat bodies, followed by their tails.
“Look!” I exclaimed.
Bruce looked out at the water, and as we both watched the seals go by, we turned to the young girl on the beach.
“Did she see them?” I asked.
“No,” Bruce said. “She’s still texting.”
What Happened To Family Night?
A friend of ours said he wanted to have family night with his children so that they could spend a little time together, and as they all sat around the living room watching television, my friend said his daughter’s hands were behind her back, and her arms kept flinching like she was having a small seizure.
“Are you texting,” he said, standing up and looking behind her. “Give me that,” he said, trying to get the phone away from her.
“Dad!” she cried and ran out of the room — with the phone.
When I was in Florida last week, I met a couple by the pool who have a 14-year old son. I asked them if it’s hard to deny their child some of the technological gadgets that most kids have these days.
I don’t want my child sitting in his room all day because he’s addicted to his computer, or sitting in front of the television playing a video game with a friend, sweating, his heart pounding, as he races across New York City firing his AK-47 out the car window trying to kill as many women and children as he can before the clock runs out.
Getting To Kindergarten Without An i-Phone
I felt relieved.
The man continued. “All his friends have Blackberries. I’m not getting him a Blackberry,” the man said. “He’s got a cell phone, and that’s got to be good enough for now. Maybe when he’s 15 he can have a Blackberry.”
We’ve got a little time before we have to cross the technological divide. I’m hoping our child is at least in kindergarten before he wants an iPhone. Until then, I’ve got bigger things to worry about – like what to do when I’m pushing the stroller and I reach a flight of stairs, or how I’m going to stay awake long enough to breast feed.
Pregnancy, with Hammer-toes and a 47-Year-Old Uterus
And what about childbirth? I hope my 47-year old body is up to the task. I’m already developing hammer-toes on my right foot, and sometimes when I look at the back of hands all brown from the sun, they look flat and wrinkly, like paws, like my grandmother’s hands used to look.
I get leg cramps and have had to pee in the middle of the night, even before I got pregnant. And I found a brown mark on the side of my face that I thought was dirt, but when I tried to wipe it off, I realized it was an age spot. I may have a 20-year old’s eggs, but I have a 47-year old’s uterus. I hope it still knows how to contract.
When I went for my walk on the boardwalk the other morning, I passed a woman jogging and pushing a stroller with two kids in it.
“Is that hard?” I asked as she went by.
“Yes!” she gasped.
“Shit,” I said.
I’ve been looking forward to getting back to jogging after I give birth. I’ve already acquired a jogging stroller through “Freecycle,” but “hard” is not really what I was looking for. As I continued to walk, I passed a second woman pushing a jogging stroller, except she had only one child inside it. She was also moving downhill.
“Is that hard?” I said as she moved past me.
“Not bad,” she said, smiling.
That’s what I wanted to hear.
Notes for this blog:
A journalist for almost 25 years, Caren Chesler has written about topics as diverse as racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike to the newest trends in private equity investing. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, The New York Daily News, Popular Mechanics, Miller McCune, New Jersey Monthly, Modern Bride, Investor¹s Business Daily, and the Asbury Park Press, among others. Her essays have appeared in The Huffington Post and WomensWallStreetWomensWallStreet.com. You can find her blog on later motherhood at: http://thedancingegg.wordpress.com/ (http://thedancingegg NULL.wordpress NULL.com/)
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