I come from a long line of head strong, persistent, unbending, determined, unshakable and even sometimes stubborn, vain and obstinate women. These traits are as cultivated and propagated in Southern women as energetically as our “famous” manners. We grow up being taught that saying pretty please, thank you and I’ll pray for you is of the same importance as lip gloss and mascara.
We are coached early in our little lives how and when we pray for the neighbors, when saying bless their hearts is appropriate (nicely or not so nicely), you don’t leave the house without makeup and most importantly when and where to wear waterproof mascara. There isn’t southern woman alive that doesn’t have the “special” tube of mascara for funerals and maybe a wedding. You can bet your bottom dollar if you see a Southern woman crying that wasn’t prepared with waterproof mascara someone has messed up really bad and there will be HELL to pay. I would suggest to run…..
Southern women are reared knowing there are only a few acceptable reasons to show weakness and cry and even then you best not be sobbing in public. That’s reserved solely for those closest to you who can’t run away. This is typically our poor husbands who is completely screwed regardless of what direction he chooses. This poor testosterone filled man who typically is married to the Rock of Gibraltar now finds himself in an non win situation. He really has no good options. If he tries to fix it he is condescending and if he comforts he is babying (and you DON’T baby tenacious) The smart ones just quietly help around the house, hug us tight and send us to the friends for a good cry until it’s out of system.
We need a good cry as much as the next girl – we just DON’T like it!! Somehow we think it’s disrespectful to all those strong women who we come from to fall apart. It’s like we’re disappointing them or we will make them roll over in their graves. The most scary option is they’ll come haunt me. I can’t have that – if my granny came visiting and saw how messy my house is she wouldn’t just role over in her grave she would do somersaults and never leave. I already hear my momma in my head all day- I really don’t know if I could take her too…….
So after telling you all this – you can imagine my surprise the other day as I was driving alone to pick up a parasite (children for those nicer than me) when I found black mascara tears rolling down my cheeks. I have always prided myself on being a “tough ole broad” I don’t cry often and hate it sincerely. If I cry it’s usually a built up explode. Either my feeling are really hurt or I’m mad and trying NOT to kill you, but this was different.
These tears didn’t come from anger or my feelings being hurt, they came from a different place. My first thought was “damn menopause hormones”, but the honest truth is I think they came from a different place. These tears were coming from the sadness of the “light at the end of the tunnel”
I remember when I had three parasites, all in diapers, and I would speak to people who had teenagers and be jealous. I felt like my life was crazy and I saw no end in site. It was a constant life of “diapers, dinners, momma and honey” I remember saying “you have light at then end of tunnel and I’m not so sure I’ll survive til I get there” I never understood their looks of longing at my jealously.
As I sit here today with that light getting so bright in my eyes I need sunglasses I understand. I look up at all my parasites (they’re all taller than me now) and realize I have so little time with them left. I keep thinking it went too fast! Did I do a good enough job? Will they be a good citizen? Will they be good to their fellow humans? Will they be good parents some day? Did they hear me and will they pass on at least a little of what I taught them?
What I realized is the tears came from the realization that my “job” as a parent is almost over. It’s the understanding that this is the most significant job and role I’ll ever play and the only one that may have an impact in 100 years. The tears were rolling down my cheeks because they’re typical teenagers and sometimes I’m so proud my chest may bust and sometimes I’m so scared I can’t breathe. (if you haven’t ever had the experience of teaching a teenager to drive or gotten the call “mom I had a wreck” yet- my advice is your best bet is to keep them in diapers)
The tears were rolling because I’m at the point where I can only maneuver the people I’ve helped develop – good or bad. The heavy lifting of right and wrong and good and evil are past. Their basic emotional and ethic makeup is set. Now I can only pray they heard and choose to live the lessons I tried to teach.
The black mascara tears rolling down my cheeks, which were against every thing I had ever been taught, came from that blinding light or maybe it was only the menopausal hormones . Yep- I think my southern stubborn and unshakable self is going with menopause so the parasites don’t have hell to pay or need to run away any faster than they already are……………..: 😦
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!!
So I’m sitting here in a full tin can that feels like its about 1000 degree’s trying to figure out if I’m having a hot flash or if it’s just damn hot in here. Having a middle seat in a full plane is never my idea of fun, but when you have begun to glisten with sweat like a cold glass of sweet tea on a hot summers day it just makes it ever more joyful. I’m wondering if I’ll leave a ring – maybe I should have a coaster now too? I look around the plane and no one else seems to be fanning themselves rapidly, but – note to self- I finally found an actual use for the safety brochure that no one EVER reads. All I can say to the safety directors at Delta is bless you for the fan and please don’t move it to digital til I’m done with the change.
That’s the fun thing about middle age – I’m finding so many uses for items I had never really thought of before. In my younger days ice in your bra or underwear could be fun- now it’s almost as good as air conditioning. My ice maker now doubles as a hat and my whole head can almost fit. Fans can be made out of almost any item in a pinch. Hell- I’ve even used my laptop in desperation once.
Well they finally turned the air on in this tin can which I’ve also learned can be used as hair dryer – so until next time………….