It’s all part of getting older. At least, that’s what they say. Indulging in an extra glass of wine, a nice meal and an ice cream sundae from the local creamery blooms into three pounds on the Tuesday morning weigh-in (For the record, Monday weigh-ins are for sadists).
It’s not uncommon that a weekend extravagance leads to a week of semi-deprivation. More carrots. Less chocolate. More broccoli. Less bagel. But by the next Friday, all is typically well enough that we overdo all over again.
Cutting down on calories doesn’t help anymore
But not this time. This time, cranky middle-aged mother nature says, not so fast little lady. Time to hold you accountable. As if by 50, I’m not accountable enough. To everyone, and everything. The good daughter. Wife. Mother. Friend.
I don’t need these extra pounds. I mean, I’ve done the calorie math. It doesn’t even make sense. But of course, what makes sense these days?
It could be ‘the menopause’ I think. As usual, trying to give myself a reason for this unwanted development. Last week, when I pulled my hair into a ponytail and found more gray than expected, I automatically assumed I misremembered the date I last visited my colorist.
Can I really be graying this quickly?
I couldn’t be graying this fast, could I? Call the age police, there has been some mistake. And lately, when I find myself unable to stay awake to hear the weather on the ten o’clock news, I’m having a hard time still blaming Daylight Saving Time.
Maybe it’s time to just accept the facts right in front of my vision-challenged eyes. The bones, they creak. The skin, it sags. The new freckles, they be age spots. The weight gain…Ugh.
My stomach has been giving all the signs that a period is on the way. But of course, I have consulted the calendar, and if a cycle was coming it should have arrived days ago. This has been happening here and there, where I feel menstrual for days on end, anticipating Aunt Flo’s imminent arrival, but then, even though my body and brain are a tight knot of preparation, she never arrives, leaving me standing alone waiting with cake.
Always with cake.
I remember the years I was trying to get pregnant
It reminds me of a time so very long ago, when I was fresh faced and delightfully young, but struggling to get pregnant. Each month I anxiously charted my cycle and obsessively felt and listened to the cues of my body, hoping that my increasingly tight and bloated belly, impulsive craving for chocolate and candy, along with the emotional stability of a connect the dots drawing would yield a clear double line on one of the sticks I had invested a small fortune on.
Those days, weeks, months, years actually, trying to conceive live in a long ago dream/nightmare that thankfully bore fruit. Three times. My beautiful boys are now 18, 15 and almost 13 years old. I am so grateful for them, for this body and every twist of pain. For the hormone drugs and fertility doctor intervention. For the transvaginal stick that told me how my follicles were growing. For the needles that helped propel those eggs out into the fallopian universe. For the turkey baster. For soup that the acupuncturist said would warm my womb, and for the ice cream, I used to soothe my soul.
My stomach tweaks; a boa constrictor around my already aged and overwrought ovaries. Is it my impending period? Or just another tense, uncomfortable day waiting for it to come, or not come.
So similar to those decades ago, but without the hope, and also without the pain of hope. Now, all I am waiting to find out is if my three pounds are a result of a new middle age metabolism or the fading cycles of youth. Um, I’ll take what’s behind door number three, Monty.
Watching your kids grow up is both beautiful and painful
I’m rooting for the fading cycles. Because when they are gone, I think I’m going to feel very empty. Growing up and watching your children grow up is the most beautiful painful experience. They come into this world yours. They need you for life, love, and maybe to surreptitiously scour ebay for the exact cat Beanie Baby that they couldn’t bear to lose but did.
They need you to sneak them an extra rainbow sprinkle cookie. A note in their lunchbox, love mommy. To cuddle watching Fox and Hound for the 142nd time. To bake the special cupcakes. To order the pizza. Schlepp here and there and back here again. Test for their vocab quizzes. Listen to them chant the their bar mitzvah portion. Cheer your ever loving head off at their baseball games. Or sit silently, anxiously biting your nails. Edit the college essay. Meet the girlfriend. Wave goodbye.
I might cry. I feel the sadness well. Could be the hormones! Could be. Or maybe I’m just feeling both full and empty. My grandma always said, getting older wasn’t for wusses. I believed her. She was a tough talking, no-nonsense broad with a shock of red hair and a mouth to match.
She’d tell me, in no uncertain terms, that the weight looked good on me and was actually better for my health, then she’d poke at my boys till they giggled and dish out bowls of chocolate ice cream for everyone. Life, she’d say, is for living.
Getting older brings some changes, not all desirable
She’s right, of course (She always was). But getting older brings change. Not all of it pretty. Still, it’s better than the alternative. Another thing Grandma was fond of saying. I really miss her. And those younger wonder years where my boys were little, my father alive to torture me, and both my body and metabolism operated with a little more kick.
Instead, I am now more than a half century old. Lucky enough to have smart and sassy children growing into adults who have their own fascinating thoughts and ideas. A husband who has weathered a million storms and still stands by my side. True friends who understand and love me. Boundaries to say no to things I don’t want to do. And gratitude for almost everything – the sun on my face, the light of the moon in a night sky, a double scoop of coffee Oreo ice cream.
Turns out, the scale is not always in balance. Life is filled with ups and downs, and we’ve just got to stomach them all.