A companion piece to the Ten Things That Are Cool About Getting Older…
10. Instead of those crappy Cosmo quizzes about how to land the man/woman of your dreams, the only quizzes you take now are ones from your investment adviser entitled “Will You Have Enough to Retire?” And it turns out, no matter what numbers you put in the boxes, the answer is always NO. Believe me, I have tried to game the system. I put in astronomical exaggerations for what we are currently putting into our 401(k) and it’s still not enough. Apparently we will have to work. Forever.
9. You realize you do not know everything. Sure, your children think you do. For now. And that is a spectacular ego boost. Until your 4 year old asks you why light travels faster than sound. Now, the upside to this – if you are willing to embrace the intellectual curiosity – is that you can learn just as much as they do. I swear, I have learned more since my kids were born than I learned in my 4 years at Yale. So go pick up an actual book and find the answer. Because no kid under the age of 10 should ever ever say “let’s just google it.”
8. Middle school drama. When you get to a certain age, you think – nay expect – that you have graduated from this horrific rite of passage. But then you realize it has just morphed into middle age drama. The cattiness of eighth grade is replaced by wars between organic and non-organic moms, working moms and stay-at-home moms, gym moms and out of shape moms, helicopter moms and completely disinterested moms. Good. Grief. I don’t have time to clean my own house, let alone sit around and judge other people. Except the people who don’t vaccinate their kids. I judge the hell out of them.
And then there’s the worst: the mean girl. Because you’re older, you recognize – in a way you simply could not at 13 – that this girl is just insecure. But just because you’re older doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt when she excludes you or talks about you behind your back. And because you’re older, it is frowned upon to resort to middle school tactics to fight back. So you shrug your shoulders, genuinely smile at her when you see her, and fervently hope that karma is, indeed, a bitch. A middle school bitch.
7. If you do manage to stay out until 3am without falling asleep on the bar, you will pay for it. For days. And days. Because guess what? No matter what time you go to sleep, your kids still jump in your bed at 7 in the damn morning.
6. Lack of a filter can get you in a lot of trouble. A LOT. I mean, that’s what I hear. It’s not like I know from experience.
5. Love. As you get older, the love that you feel – for your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends – is not just the greatest source of your security and happiness. It is also your greatest source of anxiety, because it is always shadowed with a palpable appreciation for loss. When I was in law school, I clerked for a judge who annually invited high school students to witness a criminal sentencing in her courtroom. She told me that, without fail, the students divided into one of two camps – the ones who continued to think they were invincible, that nothing bad would ever happen to them, and the ones who for the first time appreciated how much you can lose in a split second. Love is like that when you’re older. Because you love so deeply and because you realize that love is the only thing that truly matters, you know how much you can lose. In a split second. And that is the scariest thing in the world.
4. You realize you have become your parents when you actively utter phrases such as:
“The music is so loud in here I can’t hear myself think.”
or “I cannot believe her mother let her out of the house wearing a skirt that short.”
or “Can you turn it to the Weather Channel dear? I want to find out what is happening in the tropics.”
3. The downside to rediscovering all the fun of childhood is that it hurts. Your mind might be as juvenile as your children’s, but your back sure isn’t. I got tackled by my kids the other day (who combined weigh 80 pounds dripping wet) and I tore my ACL. I don’t even know where that is but I’m pretty sure I tore it.
The tell-tale moment is when you fall and NO ONE laughs. I slipped on a wet marble floor last fall and went down hard. I was laughing (because it’s FUNNY when people fall) until I heard the gasps from everyone around me. Billy politely helped me up and, with a smirk, whispered “They’re just worried you might have broken a hip.” And there it is. I am apparently one fall away from riding in a motorized scooter for the rest of my life.
2. Just when you finish off paying your college and grad school loans, you take on a mortgage and a car payment for the SUV that you had to have to tote around all your kids and their crap. And just when you thought you had a handle on that, you realize you’re about to go right back to the bank and take out more loans so you can subsidize 4 years of your kids’ beer and pizza purchases. While you sit at home and have panic attacks about alcohol poisoning. And not having enough for retirement.
1. People frown when you eat more than one cake. Not one piece of cake, one whole cake. Those people shouldn’t be your friends. They’re probably too busy going to the gym anyway.