I'm sneaking up on my birthday. Again. My hope is that if I sneak up on it, it won't be able to pounce on me when I least expect it. Am I the only one who thinks of birthdays like this? Conjuring up the event in the image of a lion -prowling around, pacing, lying in wait to attack me when I least expect him to appear.
My goal is to age gracefully. To ease in to this transition. Where I'll never again be able to check those boxes on forms that describe me as being "under 40". But after having a conversation via text with one of my 16 year old sons and doing some subsequent self-examination and reflection I had a bit of an epiphany.
I think I'm in denial.
I'm not wearing inappropriate hoochie-mama clothes or dying my hair purple (the latter would be cool though) but I'm resisting this age factor in my own creative way. My son is buff. He works out regularly. I asked him what helps him stay so disciplined as I frequently crave that flat tummy I used to have and biceps that actually look like biceps. He shared with me that he keeps his goals in mind. That he focuses on his how he wants to stay healthy and keep a strong physique. At first I wondered if I just wasn't disciplined enough.
But the more I thought about it, I knew that wasn't it. Because I am disciplined. I don't drink caffeine because of the effect it has on me. I go to work on time every day. I watch my spending. I got through college and grad school on a steady diet of attending classes and studying. It's not about discipline. It's that pesky denial.
Because I am disciplined in a lot of areas in my life. Just not this one. The problem is that my life is different now and I have a hard time accepting that and all that it entails. I try to pretend that I'm just as energetic as I used to be when I was in my twenties. Back when my husband and I could stay up all hours of the night talking just to hear one another's voices and then get up to work the 6 a.m. shift at the hospital. Or like those days in high school when I could eat a Big Mac and wash it down with fries. Back when I could eat whatever I wanted and my amped up metabolism would work off the calories in a moment's notice and I managed to stay a slim 90 pounds without trying.
But when I'm presented with the opportunity to eat (this happens several times a day) and I look at my options, I still seem to think I'm a teenage girl, all skin and bones. A) a Big Mac or B) a salad. A part of my brain knows I should reach for the salad, but this other part of my brain (steeped in denial) starts talking. Loudly. It tells me things like: "Don't worry. You look great for your age and having birthed a small litter of kids". And just like that I choose option A. And sometimes B if I'm trying to offset the fact that I just shoved option A into my mouth.
Do you see the dilemma? Denial can be a tricky thing to be sure. Part of my brain knows the goal -to age gracefully.Yet the rest of my brain (the part that appears to control my hand picking up the Big Mac and shoving it (gracefully) into my mouth) is daily denying the fact that I'm in the middle of the aging process. It believes I'm still 14 years old, thin as a rail, with a metabolism that can fight off any food that I put into my mouth.
Yeah, life is different now. I'm a woman, no longer a girl. I am woman, hear me roar! I acknowledge that I'm aging and I will happily ballet dance my way into the uncharted territory of the (almost) 40's while getting a good night's sleep before and after. And I will put down that Big Mac...or maybe just eat 1/2 of it?