What Did You Just Call Me?!

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Me at 20 with my first two children

The first time it happened, I was only 25. My friends had already ordered their dinner at a local restaurant and it was my turn to go. The teenaged waitress jotted down my choice and then she did it! She called me, “Ma’am.”

My head jerked towards the window without any prompting from me and I sat there, stunned, scrutinizing my face in the glass for any sign that I might, indeed, be a ma’am.  My friends laughed warmly and I tried to play along like it was such a funny thing. But for the rest of the night I felt my eyes wander towards the window to have another look at my 25 year old reflection. I told myself not to fret about what that waitress had said, or I might get worry lines and really give her a reason to call me that ugly name.

At 27 I made the mistake of checking my makeup in my compact mirror as I walked along on a sunny day. Saw a fine line forming between my eyebrows at the bridge of my nose. See, I knew it! Worry had had its way with me. But I learned a great lesson that day: NEVER look at yourself in the mirror in the full light of day.

On my 30th birthday I waited around all day for the sky to cave in. I was no longer in my twenties and I wondered which body part might fall off first or, at least,  stop working. Funny, I still felt young. Would it creep up on me in my sleep, this 30 thing? Would men still find me attractive at that advanced age? I woke up 30 years and one day old a little disappointed at the lack of drama over the whole thing.

It reminded of the anticipation I had experienced over my upcoming 13th birthday. A teenager! Finally. But the day came and went, and as much as I urged the transformation, the fireworks, the awe and applause from others that should’ve come with it, the day was just so ordinary. No one seemed to notice the way it looked on me at all. So it was with 30. Only this time I was glad.

At 35 I had two grandchildren coming along. Talk about feeling ancient! Yet I still had my own wild sense of style. People were genuinely shocked to find out I was so “old” and when I had my grand babies out with me, I completely delighted in the surprised reactions it got me. “No way are you a grandma!”  Oh, I loved it.  Plus nothing on my body had fallen off yet or stopped working properly. Well, except that my mild asthma flared up more often than it used to and I was now using a rescue inhaler a few times a month.

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Me around 36 with my first two grand babies and my son, Jesse

 

In my 40s I felt more confident and sexy than I had in my miniskirt-wearing twenties. I had far more attention from men than I ever had. Still wore youthful clothes and hair style. Still got the wide-eyed, drop-jawed look from strangers when they found out I was a grandma. YET, one day I noticed that all the labels on my allergy medication had been written by elves. The script was so small that I had to hold the bottle way out away from me and squint to be able to read the directions. Why had all these medicine companies decided to make it so hard for me?

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Me at 46

At 48 there was still such a spring in my step…for someone with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and full-blown asthma. I loved having my grandchildren with me and seeing the still shocked public respond with compliments about my youthful appearance. However, that is also the year I gave up trying to read the smaller and smaller writing on medicine bottles, books, and newspapers, and got myself a pair of reading glasses from the Dollar Store.

At 49 an ultrasound, looking for fibroids in my uterus, revealed that my ovaries were pretty much dried up. How such a thing could occur without any fanfare was beyond me. It was my body and it hadn’t asked for permission to behave that way, nor had it given me notice.

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Top: me at 47   Next: Me, playing with the kids at BK play area. Age 47 or 48

Next: At VA Beach in 2004 with my two younger children. Age 45

Next: Outside my massage class. Age 49

 

At 50 my reading glasses started giving me a headache and now things off in a distance were kind of blurry. If I saw someone waving at the grocery store I politely waved back, even if all I could make out was a ghostly figure. I had to buy a magnifying mirror so I could pluck my eyebrows and still wonder to this day if the lines in my face are really that bad or the magnifying mirror is making it look worse than it is. For a real horrifying experience I actually put on the new bifocals my eye doctor prescribed and looked at myself in the magnifying mirror…wait for it…OUT IN THE SUN! Oh, wow. It took me a week to recover after that. Evidently the big lesson I learned at 27 didn’t stick with me.

That was four years ago.

A few weeks ago I had my little ones at the water park with me and some guy asked Xavier, “Is that your grandma?”  I almost fell off my chair! Xavier is eight. I could be his mom. Don’t look at me that way! I could be! People are having babies later and later in life these days. Up till this year everyone assumed I was his mom everywhere we went. Some still do. No one thinks Kynnadi, (the two year old) is mine, however. Duly noted.

I still get told I look young “for my age” or that I look good “for my age.”  Just FYI, no one wants to look good for their age; they just want to look good.

I accept aging as a fact of life. Still feel like the young me on the inside and never get used to the image in my mirror. Photographs are especially hard to bear. I always think I look like the REAL me (the young me) when the camera captures my image…till I see the truth a photo reveals.

The bible says God’s kids can be “green and fruitful” in old age and I am going to hold onto that for dear life. Raising grandchildren has given me a new-found desire to take good care of myself and to remain active. The kids charge me with energy but they also zap it pretty quickly. 

I’m using an everyday asthma medication and, I might not be able to bear children, (barring any miracles), but nothing else has fallen off yet or stopped working. I guess I’m pretty blessed.  If my mom is any indication of how I will age, I’m not going to stress about it. But the next time somebody calls me, “Ma’am…”  sigh.

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Me (in bifocals) with Kynnadi 😀

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I actually got this in the mail today from Geico. ha ha Perfect timing.

 

 

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