You know how life’s always throwing you hints that you’re over the hill? A few of those I’ve ignored along the way. And rightly so! Who says you can’t learn taekwondo at forty or ground-fight someone half your age, who outweighs you by 120 pounds? Been there, done that and I’ve all the medical bills for back spasms, physical therapy and Vicoden to show for it! I subdued my 6 foot 4 inch, 240 pound opponent in a nifty headlock. I felt invincible. How many forty-something moms can lay claim to something like this?
“I have the reflexes of Chuck Norris,” I had boasted to my kids, showing off my bruises. They had looked suitably impressed. Two days later my back seized seconds after I put my van in park. As I slithered from the driver’s seat in my minivan and dropped to the unforgiving, cold, hard concrete floor of my garage, the muscles in my back twisting and contorting like I was in the midst of a mutant transformation, I met the questioning gaze of my oldest.
“It’s because of the taekwondo, isn’t it? Why are you doing all this?” he asked. “It’s not like you’re a spring chicken anymore, Mom. Why are you torturing yourself?
“I just want to keep up with you guys, you know? I ’m doing this for you guys,” I plead my case between clenched teeth.
“You should quit. It’s not working,” he counseled wisely and helped me into the house.
My kids find my preoccupation with aging rather bizarre. People tell me I’d look a youthful forty-nine if I wear a hat to cover my prematurely greying mop, and sucked in the two-inch wad of flab around my middle. I tried that and I’m happy to say that it fools people into thinking I’m a hip, though somewhat breathless forty-something year old. The belly fat doesn’t bother me as much. I call it my “Hopelessly Devoted.” It has stuck with me through three pregnancies. Its loyalty knows no bounds. We are tied together. It has me, and holds me in sickness and in health. It resists fat burning crunches, deep water aerobics, weeks on Slimfast, homemade belly busters, and even the stomach flu with the kind of tenacity and will power that I wish I could patent, package and sell. It’s a keeper. So I use it as a handy book prop, remote holder, and my personal buoyancy belt when I hit the pool.
My prematurely graying hair, on the other hand, is harder to accept. A lot of women aren’t bothered by grey hair. The au natural look is in, the lifestyle sections remind me. Jamie Lee Curtis is embracing her graying locks with dignity, so what’s stopping the rest of us geezers? Someone told me the other day that grey is the new blond.
“So what if your hair is grey?” my oldest offspring asks “You ARE forty-nine.”
Yes, I had forgotten that I needed reminding. My youngest is kinder.
“I thought grey is your favorite color,” he says hugging me around my middle.
Yes, on a sweater, pants or a blouse, grey is a great color, but not on my head!
“Don’t forget your eyelashes. They’re grey too, remember?”
I love this kid.
“I love you, Mommy,” he says, “I really like this part. It’s so squishy and soft,” he says, rubbing my tummy. “What’s a cross between a mommy and a tiger?”
“I dunno, a Momger?” I play along; certain he’s alluding to my tenacity.
“I like that! Wow, you’ve got tiger marks on your tummy! Look, it’s like a xylophone!” his fingers furiously strum the theme song from Iron Man on my stretch marks.
My fifteen year old daughter waltzes in
“If it’s bothering you so much, color your hair,” she suggests.
Such wisdom at fifteen.
Redken, I love you.