Thursday, April 09, 2009

Is It The Feast of the Epiphany or Something?

This is an epiphany of sorts, and not perhaps a very earth-shattering one, but for me, it was a bit of a shocker: I woke up and realized I am an adult in the middle of my life.

I am an adult, officially old, or older than so many others. A mother of two, of all things; a wife; an erstwhile journalist; a junior-high-school-Jane-Fonda-aeorobisizer turned runner; a woman approaching her forties. Forties! When my mom was my age, she had a nine-year-old, an eleven-year-old and a crumbling marriage. I am going to be 37 this July. I don’t feel it, mentally, but there are too many physical signs to ignore. The gray hair, the beginnings of wrinkles and, of all things, a C-Section scar. There are age-related complexities: Almost every doctor appointment requires a follow-up with a specialist or blood work. I can hurt myself executing seemingly simple tasks, like getting out of bed or reaching for something on the tippy top shelf. I have sunspots that need to be “checked.” And my hands. My hands, more than anything, betray my vanishing youth and approaching middle age.

Most startling: that shift is starting to happen, where we are no longer “taken care of” by our parents and we are slowly but oh so surely becoming the caretakers of them.

We are as young as we feel, right? Sometimes I still feel like I am in college, and I am going to eat a greasy, unhealthy-in-ten-ways dinner at nine at night, then take a Disco Nap and then spend the evening flitting from place to place, staying out way too late. Or I feel like I am still in high school, and I am going to drive past The Devil House (doesn’t every town have one?) or go 70 miles an hour over The Hump in town (doesn’t every town have one?) to feel our stomachs drop or go to a diner (doesn’t every town have one?), to a pizzeria (ibid) or to the video store to rent a movie (wait: Blockbuster is going out of business, so every town won’t have one). Or, when it is late at night and I can’t sleep and I am alone in the living room with my thoughts, I can feel ten again. Lonely, uncertain, waiting, wondering where this is all heading.

I suffer from thinking REAL life is going to start any day now. Like this life, this day, this moment doesn’t count. This isn’t real. “Real” hasn’t started yet. “Real” is coming. I could use a tattoo reminding me to Seize the Day or Live in The Moment. Actually, that is not a bad idea: Permanent ink to drill into my head a concept I never seem to master.

But how can I live in the moment? I am too busy preparing, wondering, worrying and stressing about the next one. And too often I reconstruct the past and construct the future, but ignore the present. This very moment, ignored, like a stranger on a train.

There was a point early on in my relationship with Nicole when I started to feel like an adult. I remember thinking, that’s it: We are adults and we need to use pillow protectors. We need high-thread-count sheets. We need to really think about the future and not just conjecture about the myriad directions it can go. We need a AAA membership. And magazine subscriptions. A better vocabulary. A subscription t the Times. And one of those return address stampers so we can stop using those free labels that come in the all from charities we don’t donate to, the ones with cloying puppies or seals on them, or a giant calligraphy initial. We need real pots and pans, the kind that you add one at a time because they are so absurdly expensive and it seems ridiculous spending that much for a pot. We need real pajamas, the kind sold in sets, that match, and maybe have working buttons, and not just decorative ones. We need art on our walls. Wills. Health-care proxies. A legal marriage, even if it s only recognized by three states. College funds. House insurance. Life insurance. Avenues of communication. Back-up plans.

And now, the latest addition to our adult life, the latest sign that we are in fact over thirty but under fifty: There is, as of today, a television in our bedroom. Yes, I know what all about its sometimes unintended consequences, but it had to happen. The girls’ bedroom is off of the living room, which makes that room off-limits when we put them to bed. Not forever, but just till they are settled in and in a deep sleep. So, you know, a couple hours. During that time, we head to the bedroom, with our computers or books, or into the kitchen. We makes calls. I update my blog. Sometimes I’ll get a manicure. Or, more glamorously, empty the dishwasher and set up the coffee for tomorrow. Point being: We steer clear of the living room.

With a TV in our bedroom, we have options. We can watch a movie together. We can cuddle under the covers on a cold day, basking in the warm glow of Rachel Maddow. We can close the door, turn on the air conditioning and watch Battlestar Gallatica, which I recently downloaded from iTunes. Or it can just sit there, off, in all its shiny, flat glory. We’ve come a long way since the televisions of our youth.

The best part: Neither Nicole nor I watch that much TV. Well, to be more specific: Nicole never watches TV during the week. Well, sometimes she will come in a watch The Office with me, with closed captions, so the volume doesn’t infiltrate the girls room. (And yet another aging sign: I have hearing loss in my right ear.) But during the week, I will tuck Nicole into bed and head into the living room around 9 and watch a Tivo’d show or two until I my brain shuts down enough to sleep. But I never watch TV during the day or on the weekends. And Nicole, she loves her Sunday afternoon TV. So this should be interesting.

But tonight, we will watch The Office, in bed, with the lights out and no computers on our laps and without reading the closed captions. I am so excited that I think we need Cold Stone to celebrate. It is like this is a special occasion. TV has suddenly become an Exciting Event, and that, more than anything, makes me feel old.

Pictured above, cue the chorus of angels and behold, the TV. We need a stand. And the two not-so-little reminders for me to Live in the Moments.


K J and the kids said...

We are old. Sometimes I feel like I'm just playing house. One of those....I'll be the mom and you can be the kids, games.
I do things the way my mom did them and feel like I'm just copying what the experts on Oprah tell me and the latest techniques in Parents Magazine.

I know this is totally off subject, but what ever became of the MRI you were supposed to have done ?

Also, now that I know you have this dirty and very secret blog.....I am a little disapointed to see you blog in your very poignant and well thought out blog.
hee hee hee. Not that you should stop or that I don't enjoy reading here....I just like the dirt sometimes too. Puts a twist on my boring life.

I have been the commenter from HELL lately...what's up with that.

The end.

Rainbow Momma said...

Ah yes, actually being an adult instead of just acting like one. I'll be 40 before you're 37, so believe me, I'm feeling it too.

Enjoy your new TV! We are TV junkies, unfortunately. But we rarely have time or gumption to watch, so we often end up deleting things from the DVR because it's all filled up. LOL!

rebecca said...

i feel you on the hands thing. my hands are definitely those of a woman in her mid-30s who spends too much time in the sun.

oh, and cold stone... you have just given me a craving.

confession: i secretly want a tv in the bedroom so that i could watch movies during naptime. (i hate watching on the computer, it's too small and hard to see, though my failing eyesight is not due to age but rather a lifelong thing...) however my husband is anti-tv so it will never happen.

Anonymous said...

We just took the TV out of our bedroom, of course, we don't have twins.

Jess said...

Yep! We are getting doubt about it.

My email is and I really would love to get the password to your secret blog!

battynurse said...

Oh yes. I feel like this all the time. I'm 38 and when my mom was this age she had an 18 year old who was moving out of the house (me). I don't feel at all like how I thought I would feel at almost 40. I'm no where near where I thought I would be in my life at this age either.

Hope said...

well said Jen!
2 1/2 college degrees, a union job, and mortgage later, and I can't wrap my head around the fact that Mary has started to organize out 20 year reunion. Or that the kids that my friend had while I was in college have driver's licenses! I had knee surgery a year ago, and the surgeon had the nerve to tell me I had arthritis! WTF???

Where the hell did the time go???