Margo: The joys of aging
February 28, 2018
Crazy story: today is my birthday.
I've always been big on birthdays. I like to make a big deal of it and like to milk it for every ounce of adoration and self-indulgence I can squeeze into one day. There's no modesty or humility or telling people not to bother buying me a gift. I want presents, and lots of them.
"I really don't care about my birthday anymore," I told my brother the other day. "Don't worry about it."
"You are so full of it," he replies. "I'm not falling for it. You totally care."
This is what happens to a child who has grown up with too much Jewish guilt: he can't take anything at face value, especially from his passive-aggressive sister.
It is true I have always had high expectations around holidays. But when it comes to my birthday, things have changed.
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For one, aging is no cause for celebration. What a horrible design we human beings are, made to slowly decay until we eventually die. Our mortality is so fragile that if we are lucky enough to make it to a ripe old age, we get to watch as gravity slowly runs its course, pulling our various body parts slowly toward the Earth until it looks like our faces are melting and our skin is hanging from our bones.
Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for all the wonders of cosmetic medicine that exist today and am willing to inject just about anything into my face if it means postponing looking like an old lady. The fact of the matter is I am old enough to be my son's grandmother and just think of what the kids on the playground will say.
I realize I'm in good company with all the women who chose to have babies in their 40s in this valley. And while I don't have to worry about feeling self-conscious on the playground or at school pickup, I am a little concerned about hitting my 60s before my kid graduates from high school. It's not like I didn't do the math before we embarked on our little baby-making project, but even now, at 48 (gulp) I'm seeing my age a lot more than I did three years ago.
I don't feel like celebrating the collapse of my upper eyelids, which seem to be on a slow droop trajectory toward my toes so that I will eventually look like a basset hound. I'm not that excited about the fact that my body is starting to behave like a German car with more than 75,000 miles on it and will require some expensive repair in the next few years, like knee surgery and eye surgery.
Oh yes, that lazy eye I was born with (and had several surgeries to repair when I was a kid) is slowly but surely making its return. It now seems that my eyes will no longer work together and have decided to break up, wanting nothing to do with each other. For the most part, this isn't that noticeable. But when something requires both eyes, like looking through binoculars or focusing on one thing like a camera lens, they each want to go their own way. This means I am cross-eyed in 90 percent of the photos taken of me when I am not wearing sunglasses, somewhere between drunk and confused. Let's just say it's not a good look. Surgery will be necessary at some point, like when I'm not taking care of a tiny human who cannot be left alone for two seconds lest he discover the Sharpie in the kitchen drawer and decide to write all over his face with it.
There is no doubt that pregnancy has changed my body forever, and while I am pretty good at hiding it, there are moments when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and am startled by what all happened to my lower abdomen after that C-section. I know you don't want to think about it, so just think of how I feel!
All that aside, I am the happiest I have ever been. The joy in my life now is so profound and feels so delicate that I am riddled with fear for all that I have to lose, having nightmares about plane crashes and lost babies and nuclear bombs.
Thank god I'm married to someone who sleeps so soundly that when I ask him what he dreams about, his usual answer is "black."
The truth is, I have always been a late bloomer and been the last one to cross those milestones that come easily to most people. I didn't get married until I was 41 and had a baby at 45. Now at 48, I'm enjoying the quiet, slow-paced life of taking care of a toddler. Instead of getting dolled up in an expensive pair of tall shoes and designer jeans, I'm padding around in yoga pants and hooded sweatshirts most days, no longer afraid of the fashion stigma of going out in public in my Uggs.
My hair is thanking me that I'm no longer using flatirons and hair dryers and beating it into submission every day, opting instead for the messy mom bun, loosely wrapped around on the top of my head.
And while I haven't absolved myself of my shopping habit or my expensive taste, I am finding other less expected gifts: like when my child curls up in my lap and turns his face up to me and says, out of the blue "I love you, Mommy." Or when he opens his arms and wraps them around my neck, planting on my cheek a wet, drool-stained kiss.
My birthday does signify getting older and might not be something to fuss over. But my life, so rich with chest-swelling, cheek-aching love — now that's something to celebrate.
The Princess will be on top of Highland Bowl today. Email your birthday love to firstname.lastname@example.org.