The one thing in life I am more and more convinced of is that sometimes I really need a warning label. The problem is – I never can think of just one. This warning label would need to be more like a scrolling LED sign that hangs around my neck that can be changed on a daily basis, but I’m sure if you asked my hubby or parasites (children for those nicer than me) they would probably say it would need an auto change by the second. I’m sure if you asked them it would read regularly -“she’s just crazy- so deal with at own risk”
The reason I’ve decided to warn you about my warning labels (today) is that I’m gonna actually talk (out loud) about that ever so disturbing and even more aggravating thing called “MIDDLE AGE”. Now for most these words have a simple enough definition. It simply refers to the middle part of your life. Generations ago (I’m going with the Dark Ages cause it makes me feel better about getting old), when the average life expectancy was about 45 or 50, middle age landed squarely in your 20’s. However in today’s world where the average life expectancy is starting to push the 80’s the definition of middle aged has changed significantly. Now middle aged is considered your 40’s and 50’s.
Now if you are a woman under the age of 35 – I would highly suggest you stop reading this very second!! You are having fun and living in the prime of your life. There is absolutely no reason for you to know that these horrid things I’m going to talk about are going to happen to you regardless of all of your efforts to the contrary. Just keep having fun and living in your dream world – if for no other reason that us middle aged folks can look at you lovingly and smile. We smile not because of the memories or the longing, but just because we know what’s coming for you and we giggle at your oblivion.
What brought this to the forefront for me tonight was I got the rare chance to speak with one of my girlfriends from college. As we age this gets harder and harder to accomplish- not because we don’t want too- but life just gets in the way. A full time job, 3 parasites with a million things “that have to be done” , a hubby “with needs” , a million loads of laundry and dishes, and a household to run just take entirely too much of my time! Yes I know you’re asking how I got time to write this- well let’s just say the household part is a mess!! Someone once wrote that boring women have immaculate houses…………. Well let’s just say I’m far from boring!!
I digress…. back to my conversation with my girlfriend.
We talked about our parasites. She has a few older than mine so I listened intently so maybe I will know what’s coming. You know what I learned? I need a MUCH bigger savings account!!! We talked about our mutual friends. Guess what I learned? Absolutely nothing different- people don’t change – they just get more resolute in their ways. We talked about our families. I learned we still care about each other and our worlds and have great memories of each others extended families.
We were laughing and talking and talking and laughing and then somehow “getting older” became part of the conversation. I’m sure it came up talking about the parasites or maybe just in the normal conversation, but it came up just the same.
That’s when the laughing started to sound more in the hysterical dimension.
How I know it got louder was two of the parasites walked in (because they are nosy) and whispered “Who are you talking to” and “How do you like my haircut?” and “I need to be a school early” and “”Can you help me with my homework? etc etc Haven’t you ever heard the rule “If mom is actually having fun we must ruin it or bother her immediately”? Children seem to come out of the womb with this Super Power!!
Oops- I digress again
Why we were laughing so hard is the “very” normal conversation that middle aged women have been having for generations (that we just didn’t know was coming), but is here just same. It’s the dirty little secret (ok- not so secret) of middle aged women everywhere……………………
Bladder control is a thing only for the youth!!
We laughed because we couldn’t cough, sneeze, run, jump or in any way move too fast anymore without having an accident. We laughed that when we went grocery shopping now we walked by the Depends aisle and actually considered buying them, but still clung to the idea that a pad should work just fine. (Hey don’t judge some women actually need the extra baggage in the rear department- I might of already bought them, but sadly I’m not one of those women) We laughed about the pee-pee dance (for those of you that aren’t aware -it’s that dance we all do that try’s to convince ourselves we can actually make it the 10 feet to the bathroom, but still fail) We laughed that we spent about half of our time either in the bathroom or looking for the bathroom (we used to look for our kids, but now we actively just look for bathrooms) Basically we just laughed about the joys – or not so joys- of creaking knees, hurting joints, and the pee pee dance.
As I was laughing so hard tears were running down my face and pee was running down my leg I learned the most valuable lesson of all……………. “Getting Older Sucks”, BUT going through it with good friends makes all the difference. It decides whether it’s miserable or a joke. It decides whether it stops your progress or just inhibits it a tad. It decides if you fight the inevitable or accept it with giggles. All I know now is I won’t grimace next week when I pass the Depends aisle- I think I’ll smile and giggle cause I have friends I can “DEPENDS” on!!
Oops- I watched the news again!!! Now I know better and am well aware that watching our new sensationalist, ratings driven, and politically slanted (pick a program based on which side you already believe) news media makes my head spin around and look like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. I know this to be a fact, but sometimes I decide to give them the benefit of the doubt and try it again. It’s never a good idea, but my optimistic soul over rules my brain and the result is….. oh a reaction something similar to an atomic bomb of words such as those my southern mama would disown me for actually writing publicly so you will just have to guess.
Now the latest that has seemed to of “Gotten My Goat” (yes gotten my goat is a southern term and it’s appropriate-and no I don’t know the origin so go look it up) is a news special on the college spring break in Panama City. Now this news channel (let’s just call it the channel for the fundamentalist right which for our purposes we’ll just call the Al Jazeera of America) If you are Chicken Little and believe the sky is falling then “By George” this is the channel for you!!
Now anyone my age that has ever gone on a college spring break or a graduation trip with friends without parents knows exactly what happens on those trips and if you have forgotten then shame on you!!! If you are sitting in your home 30 years later saying things like “that wasn’t happening then” or “we didn’t do THAT” or the ever famous LAST WORDS “my child will not” then you have either completely forgotten reality or have found that elusive little ostrich hole to put your head in that keeps eluding me. (trust me I have teenage parasites and I really want that hole) 🙂
The reality is-there is drinking. Yes a lot of drinking. That is what college age kids do on spring break. That’s why they go. Yes- to the mama that thinks little Johnny is perfect- the percentage chance of your perfect son drinking a beer during spring break is probably -oh close to 98%. The chance of him actually hugging a porcelain throne during that week is probably over 50%. Oh and mama of perfect Katie- your chances are about the same, but the toilet hugging probably goes up.
If you will all remember back through the fog of adulthood you will remember a few things. This right of passage consists of waaaaay to many of your friends all crammed into one hotel room (you’re in college and it’s all you can afford). There at least two others sleeping on the floor because there isn’t enough beds or it happens to be a friend from another room who that was just as far as they could make it at that particular moment. The refrigerator is completely full (of mixer and beer) and there is a one loaf of bread and PBJ on the counter. The table has been converted into a compilation of drinking games, and there are empty beer cans -oh in every nook and cranny available. It takes 3 hours and an entire box of trash bags just to clean the room before you leave.
I’m not saying I agree with the right of passage, but I still understand IT IS a right of passage. I’m not saying I want my parasites (kids for those new to me) to participate in the right of passage, but I still understand that after 18 they probably will!! I just hope someone who truly cares about her is nice and holds her hair back and protects her as she sleeps on the bathroom floor. That friend who loves you enough to hold your hair back is a friend for life and I’ve been lucky (or dumb) enough to have a few.
So back to why this program “Got My Goat” It was designed to do nothing, but scare the absolute shit out of every parent in America of any child age 10 to 25. They put a blonde woman (who may be all of 30) out in an entrance to the beach in Panama City right in the middle of Spring Break. Now she just stands there and does interviews as the kids pass. I am sure they stood there for an entire day and we got about a whole 5 minutes. We only saw the drunkest and most disrespectful. (oh- they were there then too) We only heard the drug stories (oh- they were there then too and just like us our little blessings will have to determine there own path) We only heard about the nudity (fyi- there have been girls who were willing to flash their melons longer than we’ve all been alive and will still be here long after we are dead and buried and rolling over in our graves)
Do you think they walked down the beach and showed us the kids having a few beers and playing Frisbee? Of course not!! Do you think they showed us the interviews of respectful kids who said we are just here having fun? Of course not!! They showed us only the scariest, most sensational, and ratings driven and then acted like it was the end of the world as we know it!! Suddenly all the youth in America have gone completely off the rails and OH MY- chicken little the sky is falling!!
Well guess what parents – they are doing exactly the same thing college students have been doing for generations!! There have been disrespectful kids, kids that do drugs, girls who flash, and the standard ole drunken debauchery for as long as there have been college age kids and guess what the sky hasn’t fallen yet and probably won’t this time either. Every person still has to pick their own way. I know you want to think it’s obviously worse, but it’s not! I know you want to believe it’s much scarier now, but it’s not! I know you want to think my child will not, but they will!
Wanna know the funny part to me- 30 years ago our parents were saying the same thing. Wanna know the funniest part to me- 30 years from now those exact same kids who we saw in the news cast will be saying the exact same thing about theirs!
So maybe the only true reality is that spring break is the college age right of passage and the middle aged believing the world is going to hell in a hand basket is the middle age right of passage. Maybe we should put it right up there with loss of testosterone and menopause.
I’ve decided I’m not going to fall for their sensationalism. I’m gonna go for a stroll through memory lane. As I remember the crowded hotel rooms, and beer stained carpets I’m gonna smile. One because of all the precious memories and two because I survived. I survived with wonderful memories and lots of life lessons. Not only did I survive – my parents survived (and trust me there was many a day they thought they wouldn’t) I’m gonna smirk at my parasites who think I’m completely clueless and laugh because they have NO idea. I’m gonna “secretly” laugh when I bust them and smirk when I intentionally don’t because I’ve gotta let them think they’re smart sometimes.
The reality is that the sky isn’t falling it’s just time marching on and it happens to be their turn to make those memories. What I’ve learned is those memories will help them raise their own someday and keep a smirk on their face and trust me since they’ll be paying for their own raising they’ll need it!!!
Shhhh- come here- no come closer- I have a very disturbing secret to tell you. This is going to be extremely shocking to some of you, but I’m not perfect. Nope I’m not perfect and never have been. As a matter of fact- it seems most of my most severe defects came from birth. My parents tried to give me a warning label, but the Department of Family and Children Services said it was just too cruel. When I met my future husband they did their best to warn him. They spent the year before the marriage making sure he knew every defect before he said “I do”. I think they were petrified he would say “I do” and feel duped and try to bring me back. In Southern society you truly are never considered a “REAL” adult til you get married and someone else has to take responsibility and go get you when you break down on the side of the road. It had taken them 30 years to get someone to take me off their hands and pick me up and they certainly didn’t want me back- especially with little ones in tow. Luckily he was and is stubborn and has a quirky sense of humor so we survive.
Now I have always said that parasites (or children for those of you who are nicer than me) are just God’s way of laughing at you while he shows you all of your own strengths and weakness magnified by a thousand every day. Now that I am through with the diapers, the cherub faced toddlers, and almost through the elementary years I am realizing there is actually light at the end of the tunnel. Now I used to think the light at the end of the tunnel meant I, and they, would survive the teenage years and they would pack their stuff and leave for college with a kiss on the cheek and a swift kick on the backside. Now that I can see the pinprick of light I am actually realizing that the end of the tunnel actually probably means getting them through college and hopefully mated off for life.
This has started me thinking about making their own warning labels. I’ve raised them and since many of their most annoying defects seem to be inherited from me -who better to write them? The list so far sounds a little like this:
1) Unless you install self closing cabinet doors and drawers in your house they will always remain open
2) Yes they see the toilet paper holder, but the cabinet next to the toilet and the back of the toilet are perfectly acceptable places to for it to sit. Hey- it avoids the fight over if it rolls off the top or bottom.
3) Piles of random stuff are an perfectly acceptable organization method
4) King size beds are designed for only a twin sized portion to be slept on
5) You may take a cold shower at some point in your marriage because the gas bill was accidentally forgotten to be paid
6) They will borrow your car because theirs is too dirty for anyone else to see
Now many people consider these traits lazy, but in their defense (mainly mine) they just seem to be trivial when your brain has already wondered off to the next task. My brain wonders off a lot so I’m usually lucky if I ever finish a whole task. I opened the cabinet and got the glass so now my brain has moved on to getting something to drink- the closing of the cabinet just never entered the equation. I got the toilet paper and now I need to use it- putting it on the roll holder just didn’t go in the order of what needed to be done. I have the money to pay it so I can just do it tomorrow. They just get mad and turn it off when you say I’ll do it tomorrow for about 60 days. Who knew it took three days to turn it back on? Everyone else turns them back on the same day so that one only took once. 🙂
I think after raising our parasites most parents start to understand arranged marriages – we have more wisdom and can see the issue’s coming a mile away. Alas- we are doomed to watch them make them same mistakes and pray for the right one to come along. I just pray that after I warn their future mates that they have picked and brought home to mama that they will get a twinkle in their eye, giggle and say “I love closing cabinet doors, putting toilet paper on the roll, organizing piles, snuggling, taking cold showers, and cleaning cars” to which I will lovingly reply “You are the one and keep that sense of humor you may need it. Oh and by the way- you have been warned so no returns accepted!!”