Recently, I’ve been having trouble with my neck and back. I use the term “recently” very loosely, because this is a problem I’ve had for a while. At least, that’s what my brand new chiropractor tells me. He’s probably right; I had a nasty car accident about 4 1/2 years ago, and things just haven’t been the same since. Treatment for the issue? Visits three days a week for 4-6 months, or surgery! Tough call, but I think I’ll take him twisting my neck in an incredibly psycho-killer, disturbing way over scalpels and drugs. That being said, every time he cracks my neck I squeeze my eyes shut tight, sure that this will be my last moment on earth. Then it’s over, and he’s showing me my exercises to loosen up those neck muscles!
And then there’s my baby. Another term used loosely, as he will be 14 very soon, is in the 8th grade, and is definitely walking the line between child and teenager. OK, OK, he’s a teenager! A point driven home earlier this week when I walked in the door to find him on the phone, engrossed in conversation. When he saw me, a sheepish grin spread across his face, and he looked away shyly. Suspicious now, I asked him who he was talking to. “I’ll tell you later.” he whispered, and walked outside to the backyard and his privacy. Come to find out, it was his girlfriend. Girlfriend! Ai-i-i! Kill me now, will ya?! How can he have a girlfriend when he’s still a baby?! And how can he be almost 14?!
God, I’m feeling old.
I mean, I’m pretty sure it was just last year I was “backing my ass up” in a club while downing a shot of Jagermeister and Red Bull, poured into my tank top and jeans. Now I’m asking my husband to rub BenGay on my neck, drinking Sleepy Time tea, bundled in my three times too big sweats because my hands and feet are always cold. Sexy.
I used to yearn for a constantly evolving social life; concerts, museums, theaters and martini bars. These days I yearn for weekends I can just do nothing.
I’ve gained weight too. I don’t exercise enough and I eat too much. I know it’s my own fault, and I know how to fix it. I just need to exhibit a little discipline! I quit smoking over two years ago, so if I can do that, I can cut back on the hot wings, right? Yes I can, but I’m just not ready yet. I’m giving that one time. I figure by my 40th birthday, I should be ready. I’m not very ambitious and real change takes time, so that gives me a five year window. I just hope that’s long enough!
The truth is, I’m still young. I know this. I’m just realizing the old cliche of time moving faster the older you get is actually true. I don’t think I ever believed I was going to be young, healthy and skinny forever. But I didn’t expect 35 to sneak up so fast. I didn’t expect to be the mother of teenagers and still feel like one myself. When do you start to feel “grown-up?”
The truth is also this: when I close my eyes and see myself in my mind, I am a vibrant 21. I have thick, long brown hair, big green eyes, curves in all the right places and a flat stomach. At 21, I think that anything is possible and the world is my oyster. I am cocky and arrogant, and no one is smarter than me. I expect people to look at me and realize how wonderful I am.
When I open my eyes and peer in the mirror, the image is somewhat altered. My hair is much thinner and short. The eyes are still big and green, but I like to think there is a little more life and wisdom behind them now. The curves are a bit curvier and the stomach isn’t all that flat, although I’m not embarrassed by it. I know that most things are only possible if I work for them, and I’ve discovered that I don’t really like oysters. I’ve met enough cocky, arrogant people by now to realize that I don’t want to be like them. I’m pretty smart, but I’ve learned that there will always be someone smarter than me. In fact, there will always be someone smarter, thinner, better looking, kinder, more generous, harder working, funnier, more thoughtful, and on and on and on… I better be happy with me the way I am, and if not, work to change the things I don’t like. And be realistic.
The real truth is, I wouldn’t go back to 21 again, even if I could. Youth has it’s advantages, but the peace of mind and all I’ve learned is worth the extra pounds, chronic pain in the neck and the agony of my baby’s first real girlfriend.
Although, I still expect people to look at me and realize how wonderful I am.