It’s Saturday night, and I am out with my husband and a few other couples for dinner. The restaurant is dimly lit and the menu has tiny print. I push the menu arm’s length from my face, then I pull it closer to my face. Push. Pull. Push. Pull. My tablemates are also doing the menu dance.
Then, in a synchronized movement, my girlfriends and I pull out readers so we see our options. Once we’ve decided, we chivalrously pass our glasses to our spouses, so they too can choose to see the menu.
Years ago, I asked my dad how it felt to be 75 years old. At first, he gave me a puzzled look and then, after some thought, he replied, “Honestly, I don’t think of myself as so old. That is, until I look in the mirror and I see some old man staring back at me.”
I feel that way too. When I wake up in the morning, before I fully comprehend my whereabouts, for a brief moment I feel almost like I am still in my 20s. But as I try to make my way out of bed, I feel a stiffness — could be my back, my shoulder, my ankle. Somewhere there is a dull ache. I try to remember what I did the day before that could have caused my muscles to revolt. I sadly realize that all I did was my usual chores.
I trudge to the bathroom, look in the mirror, and that’s when it really hits me. The face staring back at me is a little startling. It’s got some smile lines, crow’s feet, and age spots. It’s not my mother’s face, but it’s also not the face I am expecting.
After getting over the shock of my reflection, I usually have to pee. My bladder seems to be getting smaller as my hips get wider. I’ve usually also gone once or twice in the night. In fact, I sometimes high-five my husband during our respective midnight shuffles to the potty.
After I brush my teeth, I take a long look at my hair. Once jet black and shiny, it’s now a battleground. In the war between gray and brown, the browns are losing! The grays are mighty and seem to multiply in my sleep. Part of me thinks I should surrender and allow gray its rightful victory, but I’m not ready just yet.
By the time I leave the house, I’m feeling pretty good. My gray has been masked with a bottle of spray-on brown and two Advil have quashed the minor aches. But my ego is allowed only a glimpse of sunshine before I sit in my car and hear the voice of a little pig bellowing at the wolf: “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.” I keep tweezers in my glove compartment for just such an occasion.
Before I start the car, I send a quick text. How big is my iPhone font? SO BIG! People three doors down can read my phone. It’s like a portable billboard in my hand, and I no longer dare type things not meant for public consumption.
I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not. I feel fortunate that I get to grow older, and I have to laugh as I watch myself and my peers morphing into our parents. I’m ready for my own kids to ask me how it feels to be old. I plan to tell them it feels just like being young — only with a few more wrinkles, a lot more wisdom, and many pairs of reading glasses.
Randi Mazzella is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, midlife issues and pop culture. Her work has appeared in many online and print publications including The Washington Post, Next Avenue, Your Teen for Parents and The Girlfriend. Randi is a wife and mother of three children. In her spare time she watches way too much reality TV. To read more of her work go to www.randimazzella.com.