The Parents’ Table

anns-bdayAt 58, I have reached the age where I can no longer, by any stretch of the imagination, consider myself to be young, or even “young-ish.”  I am stubbornly clinging to the middle-age category, although there are plenty of people who would argue that I am too old even for that.  I treat that argument with the contempt it deserves, because who knows?  I may actually make it to my 116th birthday.  We are making great strides in the fields of technology and medical science, and I intend to milk both for all they are worth. Still, every now and then, despite my best efforts, I come face-to-face with the reality of my age.

These unwelcome intrusions of painful reality into my fantasy life are nothing new.  I remember shopping with a friend one day when I was in my  late twenties, and I automatically headed for the store’s “Junior Department.” My friend refused to follow me, saying bluntly, if honestly, “Ann, we aren’t Juniors anymore.”  Huh?  Then I looked around for the “Fashionable Young Women Who Aren’t Juniors But Are Still Young and Hot” department, but it simply wasn’t there.

My hair’s natural color used to be a soft brown that I was actually rather happy with, and unlike many of my friends, I never even considered changing its color.  Even after I started spotting the occasional grey hair I firmly believed that I was far too young to be actually turning grey.   Until the day I sat down in my hairdresser’s chair and she asked me, “Have you considered doing highlights?  You know, to cover up all this grey hair?”  And a few years later, that was followed by the day that the highlights were replaced with a total dye-job.

Then there was the time I was accompanying my teenage son to his high school sports banquet.  My children may have been in their teen years, but deep down, I still thought of myself as a young mother.  But then I realized that a young mother doesn’t sit in the passenger seat of a car with a hot casserole dish on her lap while her son drives them to a banquet.  It was, no matter how I looked at it, a distinctly matronly moment.

Last weekend, my husband and I attended the wedding of one of my daughter’s best friends, and we found ourselves seated at a table with three other couples we didn’t know.  They looked about our age, and as we introduced ourselves, we realized that we were all parents of the bride’s good friends.  Laughingly, we referred to ourselves as “the parents’ table,” and sat happily on the sidelines, watching the young people dance.  I remembered when it was my parents’ generation at our weddings who were watching us dance, and marveled at the realization that I was now officially one of the “older generation” myself.   Surprisingly, I found that in this case, I didn’t mind it one bit.

Which is not to say that I have completely internalized the lesson that I am no longer young.  I think it is impossible, really, to always be aware of our true age, because on the inside, I’m still the same person I’ve always been.  And that’s why it will be quite some time before I change the name of this blog to “Muddling Through My Old Age.”  Some illusions are just too hard to give up.

47 thoughts on “The Parents’ Table

  1. You have aptly captured my journey (and struggle) with the aging process. At 67, I am no longer mddle-aged, but am I a “senior?” I can’t be in the same group as people in their mid-80s. And calling myself a “young senior” seems like an oxymoron. . >

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  2. Smiling, smiling here. Yesterday I took my 8-year-old granddaughter to her hair appointment because my daughter (her mom) had to go to a back-to-school function. The receptionist greeted Sophie and me and then said to Soph, “why don’t you wait in the sitting area there with your mom.” I almost sang out a THANNNKKK YOUUUU to the woman. Sophie just smiled without releasing the secret that I was the grandmom. Made my day.
    You write with such subtle humor, the joys and horrors of realizing how others see us, while inside, we are still 18. Well, I’m 31, and sticking with that. 🙂

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  3. It’s a funny thing, aging. I always find it interesting but a little bemusing at times. I’m never quite sure how I’m supposed to feel about it. Anyway, I hope you get to 116, although I don’t see any particular reason to stop there. The way things are going, perhaps we’ll soon by making 200 or more. 🙂

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    • Hmmmm….If I can count on making it to 200, then that would mean that at 58, I’m still “young-ish!” Who knew? Thanks for pointing out that possibility!
      And you are right, aging is an odd thing. Sometimes I am completely bewildered by it, and other times I accept it easily. But most often, I am torn between the age I feel, and the age I actually am. I can relate to the sign a coworker used to post: “Inside every old person is a young person wondering what the hell happened.” That sort of says it for me!

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  4. I am totally facing this more and more Ann! In a 55 and over community now and working among all mostly younger folks. I am THE old person. It’s so weird. And I don’t color my hair at all, so I’m totally gray…I pride myself because I earned every one!! It’s crazy though….I am trying to enjoy this time though. I do feel wise actually (or more so)….and this is cool.

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  5. I was just thinking about this this morning as I watched my daughter and her boyfriend head off, early, for Disney World. Fleetingly, I thought to myself, “I wish I were young again, and gallivanting off to fun places with my friends/boyfriend”. Then I told myself, “You’re only as old as you feel”. Well, I feel like I’m still 34, so I’m sticking to it! (I’m 54 but it’s still too much of a shock to admit it! haha)

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  6. I hated turning 50, but I’m fine wth it all now. I’m the same age as you, and whilst I bemoan certain aspects of getting older (namely physical ailments) I am more comfortable with my age now. Like you, I can sit and watch the younger ones and not feel any pangs of wishing I was still their age. I’m accepting the different phase of my life that I’m in now (but like you, not totally!)

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    • Isn’t it odd how we are comfortable with some aspects of aging, but others bother us? Some days I am fine with the fact that I am no longer young, and then other days I feel cheated because I am not nearly as young as I feel! Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Nice post, Ann. I completely agree. I like what Terry said up there, but find that I am increasingly nervous when visiting my 87 year old mother each week at her Independent Living home. I continue to ask myself, “How long before I will be here?” Yet, the wisdom and humor floating around that place is awe inspiring. Sometimes it’s REALLY HARD TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Right?

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    • Ha! I ask myself the same question whenever I am around my mother, even though she is still living independently! It is really hard to live in the moment when we know old age is waiting for us, and none too patiently, either….

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  8. Oh, how this post resonates with me, Ann! I remember how depressed I was about turning 29 ~ the end of my “youth.” Now, forty years later, I realize the fun was just beginning!

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    • I know! In those days, we thought of ourselves as old, when we really had no idea what being old meant! And I believe that twenty years from now, we will wonder why we were whining about this stage of our life, too. Thanks for the comment, Carol.

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  9. This is a beautiful post, Ann. Earnest and heartfelt. It’s so strange how even as we age, we still feel like the young woman we used to be on the inside. You’d think something inside of us would change, too. This post resonated with me especially because my husband and I were just invited to one of our son’s best friend’s weddings (in April, but they sent a Save the Date). I’ll bet we’ll be sitting with all of the other parents of friends, too. These are boys (and their parents) we’ve known since they were just six and seven years old. Getting older usually hits me when I see a photo of myself and wonder who that older lady is, because I’m not seeing her in the mirror! I came across a quote once that I like to remember when I’m lamenting getting older (and really it’s mostly about outer appearance, because I actually prefer my older emotional, intellectual, mental, and spiritual self), it goes something like, “Never regret getting older; it’s a privilege denied to many.” Thanks for another great read.

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    • I know! Actually like how much calmer and more accepting I am of myself and others now that I am older, but I do get frustrated with the physical side of it. Not only my appearance (although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’d love to get rid of the droops and wrinkles), but also with my declining strength and how easily I get an upset stomach if I eat anything rich these days. But then I think, “hey, I’m still here, and it good health,” and realize that I need to put an end to my pity party! Thanks for the comment, Kim!

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  10. You touched on all the right feelings and sentiments, Ann. It is a very unusual time though I’ve found it even more strange in my 60’s than I did in my 50’s and I’m sure that’s not a big comfort to you at all😊.
    I felt as you did in my 50’s but I never paid much attention to it. In the last few years my body has spoken to me more than it has in the past regardless of how active I try to stay. It just gets harder. But that’s ok, I enjoy the challenge…:)
    What I do love about this time is the absolute freedom of life. Of course health is a big factor at any age but the knowledge that so much of what we worried about or worked towards is no longer a concern is now behind us provides a certain amount of freedom….along with quite a few adjustments.
    It really is a very unusual time in life..:)
    Great post!

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  11. Thanks, George! It is an odd phase of life, isn’t it? In some ways, we are better off than ever before, since we no longer have so much to prove, begin, or acquire. But in other ways, we are beginning to really feel the decline of our bodies (and in my case, see them) and that can be hard to take. I find myself constantly reminding the shelter dogs, “There’s an old lady at the other end of the leash!” But like you, I enjoy the challenge, and what choice do we have? This is our life, and all we can do is live it as fully as possible, and be grateful that we have it. Thanks for the comment!

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  12. It’s what age you are in your heart that denotes your true age (the body is just a husk really). I think its great you need to remind yourself that you are getting older, just don’t do it too often lol! (Just when setting more reasonable expectations etc.) I’ve noticed in my 65 years that folks who feel young on the inside tend to look/act it on the outside too.

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