Life at Fifty-one Years and Counting
My Goddaughter spends a couple of evenings a week with me and there are times when I’m not sure if she’s going to help me keep my youthful exuberance and good health or she’s going to finish off what energy for life I have left.
Every outfit this young lady wears has some combination of layered tank tops with the word Aeropostalé emblazoned across her chest for everyone to view. She is making a statement to the rest of her generation. She can be preppy, explore her surroundings, and still be comfortable. I always opt for total comfort these days. In fact, I’ve become all about comfort in my clothes, my home, and my own skin.
My teen years were filled with bell-bottomed jeans that I split at the side seams to add even more fabric of contrasting color. I visited “hippie” shops where I purchased incense by the pound and bought music strictly for the shock it would bring to my parents. I was a nice person but I had a burning desire to be seen as a wild child. I couldn’t stand the thought of being out of control long enough to actually try smoking a joint or drinking alcohol but I struggled to appear “cool” to my friends. It took a while for me to find the balance I needed in my life to be professional by day and let my hair down by night.
My Goddaughter often argues with her mother over curfews, sleeping over with friends, school, boys, etc. It’s all perfectly normal because at her age life is all about her. It IS a big deal if she wakes up with a pimple on the morning school photos will be taken. It IS a big deal if her peers don’t understand her or include her in activities. It IS a big deal if her mother wants her to wear granny panties. After all, the teenage years are hard enough without the extra stress of imperfection.
I try to show this beautiful young woman who reminds me daily that she is “ALMOST fifteen” that life is about more than the little bubble we live in at the moment. Compassion, forgiveness, and self-discipline are all mandatory in our lives if we are going to be happy and prosper. We have to learn to work together and keep an open heart. We all have to bend sometimes and we all want to feel needed and important.
I’m trying to remember how long it took me to realize that I wasn’t personally responsible for making the Titanic sink or the Hindenburg fall out of the sky. I am one little pebble on a journey filled with rough stones and night winds. I’m not really sure when it happened but I did start to understand that absolutely nothing is solely about me. I’m pretty sure it was much later than my fourteenth year of life though.
Life can be weird when you hit the fifty year mark and it keeps growing more strange by the day. I accept that everyone has their own hang-ups and quite frankly, I’m too busy fighting off hot flashes and intense cravings for chocolate to really care. Maybe I watch my Goddaughter and think about how fast the years have passed in my life. Maybe I feel a twinge of my own mortality and sense that life as I know it is running out. Life itself is running out. Why should I be worried about whether or not my purse matches my shoes at this point in my life?
I really feel bad for my Goddaughter and her youthful innocence. She has so much learning to do. She’s going to have to find out who she really is and reach for her goals. I know who I am and I’m comfortable with myself. Maybe I’ll buy her one of those whales squealing relaxation noise machines to put in her bedroom for those times when her thoughts are racing and she can’t get to sleep until it’s time to get up for the day. Maybe she will help me figure out how to download my old Grand Funk Railroad music onto this darn IPod!
One of these days we’ll recall the memories we’re making as she goes through her teenage years and we’ll laugh and maybe even shed a few tears. Hugs will be plentiful and our hearts will meld together when we remember the joys and heartaches we experience as we go through these days of our lives. But that won’t happen anytime soon. She’s a teenager and I’m fifty-one years-old and still counting. I’m not sure what I’m counting now, I’ve misplaced it or forgotten it and my Goddaughter is too busy checking herself out in the bathroom mirror to remind me.
© Dianna Doles-Petry
April 28, 2010