Oh, the Joys of Aging!
Warning! If you are male and have not reached the age of maturity required to understand a woman going through “the change of life,” please stop here. Reading the rest of this post could frighten you away from women for the rest of your life.
I’ll start with my mornings. Just five years ago I sprang from my bed each morning like a recruit going through boot camp. I dressed, applied make-up, started breakfast and then jogged in place while it was cooking. I gulped down a couple of cups of coffee and a small bowl of cereal and I was ready to face the day. I was so upbeat and perky that my neighbors thought I was using drugs and asked me about it. “Hey, what kind of drugs are you taking? Do you have any extra? I sure could use some!”
Now I wake up feeling like I have been fighting with Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris all night long. I can barely force myself into the kitchen to start the coffee pot but I know I NEED that caffeine fix to even manage to get myself dressed. Breakfast is something I prepare for others since virtually everything I eat ends up in the land of cellulite buried within my now gravity-challenged body. Before I can consume the first whole cup of coffee I am on my way to the ladies’ room and I make sure to keep the décor in that area simple and bright because I now spend a lot of time there. In fact, one of my dear friends was visiting here not long ago and thought I was hiding a bottle of liquor in the linen pantry of the restroom because I made so many trips in there while during the day. Grief, she would really think something was going on if she saw how many trips I make there during the night!
By midmorning I often feel as if I’ve wandered off into the heat of the Arizona desert. We are in the middle of winter here and I’m wearing sleeveless summer blouses and still sweating from my neck down to my thighs. I am sure the house is far too hot and I even consider turning on the air conditioning until I look over and see my elderly mother shivering, the dogs packed tightly together huddling under the dining room table and I realize that I can see my own breath in the air every time I exhale. Then, as if on cue, I start to feel the chill in the air and announce loudly, “God, the temperature is dropping again! I need to get a sweater and turn that thermostat up.” Is it possible for dogs to clap their little paws together? I’m sure I’ve heard applause a time or two when my hot flashes have passed for a bit.
I’m not sure I should even mention how my skin itches, my thoughts seem fuzzy at times, I am having a hard time with multi-tasking these days, and I’m finding it impossible to get a full night of sleep that allows me to wake up feeling refreshed.
My grandmother warned me about the change of life, or at least, she considered it a warning. She made it sound like racing through the child bearing years was enjoyable and I would want to grieve once the day came when I would not be able to conceive anymore. My grandmother had nine children and I know that the last child, her only son, came just as she was entering the point in her life when cycles become irregular and gray begins to appear in your hair.
I think she had to have been drinking or something. I look into the mirror and I see my mother looking back at me. I take a pill for high blood pressure and another pill for a thyroid condition. I have stiffening joints and sometimes I have to write my age in the palm of my hand with an ink pen before I go to a doctor’s appointment the way I used to write crib notes before a big test in high school. I would never be able to keep up with an infant at this age and I would probably lay the poor little thing down somewhere and forget where I put it.
The truth is; I feel liberated these days. I don’t have any young children at home and I can spend more time exploring my own needs rather than worrying about who needs to be where and who has a school project due. While I am a caretaker to my elderly mother, I am blessed to be able to do this and I’m sure that the long hours I keep doing this are a part of what keeps me tired but it also leaves me feeling fulfilled.
I may not be a walking magnet for a man’s attention anymore but I accept my body as a living roadmap of the journeys I’ve traveled and the battles I’ve fought. I’ve accomplished a lot in my fifty-one years of living and I plan to accomplish a lot more before I’m done if God’s willing and the creek doesn’t rise. I still clean up pretty good too, I just have to remember to cover up the wings I now have where my upper arms once resided.
As a younger woman, I planned my entire existence around other people and their needs. I thought every detail of my life should be in order and meet the approval of friends, family, neighbors, and people I’d never met but MIGHT meet sometime in years to come. I wasn’t sure who I really was or what I was supposed to do with my creative energy. Now, I’m not afraid to face a good challenge and I have more self-confidence than I’ve ever had. I’ve learned to slow down because life is not a race. I breathe, I think, I vent when necessary, and most of all, I don’t waste a minute of my life unnecessarily.
Oh, the joys of aging! Who would have thought it?
© Dianna Doles-Petry