Like any child, when I was young I had an idea of what it would be like to grow up and grow old. Looking back, I laugh at how far off the mark I was when it came to how I envisioned almost everything. I cannot help but wonder why my parents (mainly my mom) did not bother warning me about some of the things I would encounter as a grown woman. I have narrowed down three possibilities. (1) They did not feel comfortable or know how to tell me. (2) They thought it would confuse me. (3) They knew but thought it would be funny to let me learn the way they did – the hard way.
Do you remember when we had Home Economics classes in high school? They tried to teach us a few useful life skills before we entered the big, bad world. How to make a pot roast. How to sew a button on a blouse. How to balance a checkbook. I think it would have been nice if they would have taken us aside and given us a head’s up on a few other things.
WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN
Everyone knows that gravity keeps our feet solidly on the ground but it also can change us from the firm, taut young women we once were into something that resembles a California mudslide. It's not just gravity working against us, however. Due to loss of elasticity in our skin and loss of muscle tone as we age, women typically experience the “wave back”. It’s that loose skin on the back of the upper arm. When you wave your arms, that skin jiggles and waves back. It’s fun to play with when you are alone because if you are well practiced, you can get a pendulum effect and keep it moving for quite a while. Don’t even pretend like you’ve never jiggled it and watched it swing back and forth.
Of course there are other areas that get saggy baggy. Have you ever seen the cable tv listing for an infomercial called “Get Rid of Your Turkey Neck”? Personally, I prefer to call it a gibler (pronounced jib-lurr). I first knew I had a gibler when my oldest daughter, Kayleigh was a small child. She was lying on the couch with her head in my lap, she reached up and started moving it back and forth, and she was laughing. “What’s this Mommy?” She asked. I remember at the exact moment wondering why I thought having offspring was a good idea. She asked me a few more times and I finally said, “It’s my gibler, okay? My gibler! I hope you like it because you’re going to have one just like it some day!” Call it foreshadowing if you like but it is actually a fine example of the next subject.
THE PARENT CURSE
Chances are, at some point you were the object of the intentional or unintentional "parent curse”. You know what I mean. “Someday I hope you have a daughter who treats you like you treat me!” That kind of thing. My mother actually said, “I hope that one day you have a daughter who acts just like you are acting right now.” There was no foreboding music; no mist rolling in, wolves howling or anything else that would indicate an actual “curse” was placed, but there should have been. I did indeed have a daughter who was (and still is) a chip off the old block. Now, I am going to be honest; it wasn’t anything that bad I was doing when Mom “cursed me”. I think I was probably talking non-stop and just driving my mom crazy in a very general way. But yeah, it came true. I had a daughter. She's just like me. And in fact, I have told both my daughters, “Someday your kids are going to do the same stuff to you than you’re doing to me right now.” Since my granddaughter is now two years old, she does things to her mom that make me chuckle because I remember Kayleigh doing the same things to me. The funniest part is watching and hearing her say phrases to Zoe that I once said to her. That brings me to the next item on the list.
THE WORDS COMING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH
Do you remember things that your parents said that just drove you crazy? You probably even thought, “I will NEVER say that to my kid!” Well, never say never, Sweet Pea. I actually remember the first time I heard myself say something that my mom used to say to me. I snapped my mouth shut immediately and ran to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror to see if I was still me. I was terrified that I would look into the mirror and my mother would be staring back. That first time rocked my world but you know what? After that, I was not surprised when I heard my mother’s words come out of my mouth EXACTLY the way she said them. From words, to ideology to mannerisms, if you think you will squeak by unscathed, think again. Some part of one or both of your parents is going to manifest in you. If you don’t see it and you have siblings, don’t worry, they will be happy to point out, “You sound just like Mom!”
LOST AND FOUND
Here's one for the gentlemen. As we know, hair loss is sometimes a part of aging. However, men may not expect to find the hair on their head is migrating to their ears. I am willing to bet, not one prepubescent boy was ever pulled aside by his father and told, “Hey, just so you know, someday you are going to wake up and see something sticking out of your ears. Don’t panic, son. It’s a natural part of manhood.” No. You have to find out on your own. One day you innocently go to pull what you think is a loose hair only to end up on your knees with your eyes watering. How hair sprouts out of an ear is a mystery to me. Worst of all, how would you even trim it? Even if you manage to get one ear, the other is going to be at an awkward angle. In addition, guys, you should know your wife has already noticed; she just doesn’t want to tell you. You could both pretend it’s not happening. On the other hand, you could swallow your pride and ask your wife to give you a quick ear hair trim. Will your wife do it? Probably. Will she struggle to keep a straight face the entire time? Yup!
Mysterious hair migration is not just a problem for men you know. At some point in my late 40’s the lady stache appeared. That’s right and if you haven’t gotten yours yet ladies, don’t fret you will! While I have always had fine, blond facial hair, one day I woke up horrified to see there were coarse, black hairs growing above my upper lip. Oh sure, you can tweeze them but it hurts and it takes forever because for every one you pluck, there are 10 you can’t get a hold of and another dozen you don’t see until you are in your car on the way to work. You can count on that one co-worker who is always giving you the stink eye to see every one of the “woman whiskers” you missed. Let’s not forget the random half-inch long hair that you discover growing out of your chin by lunchtime even though you know for a fact it was not there when you put your makeup on that morning. They are typically hanging on so tight you could suspend a 180-pound man 10 feet in the air from that whisker. That is when you start to pray, “Please Lord, please let there be a pair of tweezers in my purse. I’m begging you!” You check and of course, they are no tweezers. You go through your desk thinking you can use two jumbo paperclips and a rubber band and MacGyver a pair of tweezers into existence, but that doesn’t work. So what do you do all day? You fiddle with it because let’s face it, it’s not obvious enough already. You tug and rub so that your chin is nice and red, drawing attention to it like a blinking neon “check this out” sign.
Understanding the pooch is vital if you want a peaceful marriage but no one bothers to share this information. Underestimating the importance of the pooch can cause terrible strife in a relationship. For couples considering marriage, someone should pull the young future groom aside and tell him, “For the love of all things holy and right, do NOT go near the pooch.” Some women reading this are already laughing because they know what I am talking about. It's not a dog. For those of you who do not understand, allow me to enlighten you.
Many women (certainly not all) will develop a little bit of a pooch in her belly below the navel, especially after childbirth. It’s hard to get rid of and we grudgingly learn to live with it but most of us are very self-conscious about it. Most of the time, the pooch is merely a nuisance that we hate in silence. It makes clothes fit poorly or makes us look bad in slinky dresses. It only becomes a problem when the husband accidentally stumbles across it. You know how it is ladies. You are lying on your side, going to sleep or maybe already asleep and your husband comes up to spoon with you. The problem starts the minute his hand finds your tummy and comes to rest there. A woman with a flat belly will not do this but a woman with a pooch will take that hand and move it. So men, if you wonder why we move your hand, we do this because: stay away from the pooch, that’s why. The first time my husband did it, he knew instantly that he had done something I did not like. I moved his hand the moment it made contact with the pooch.
Him: “Why did you move my hand?” Hand goes back.
Me: “I don’t like to be touched there.” Hand gets moved away.
Him: “Why? What’s wrong with this?” Hand goes back and the pooch gets a little squeeze.
This is the emotional equivalent of pouring lemon juice in a cut. Yes, it is ridiculous but the only thing worse than touching the pooch is squeezing the pooch. Men be advised, this area may seem perfectly benign to you but some women (read as most women) are sensitive about the pooch. If you accidentally find yourself encountering a pooch, back away slowly trying not to call attention to the fact that you recognize there is even a pooch at all. Whatever you do, do not TALK about the pooch. Save yourself and play dumb. The pooch is no man’s land and should forever remain that way.
Pregnancy can do fascinating things to a woman’s body. By fascinating, I mean awful. My mom explained that she had stretchmarks because of me. Hey, I was rude enough to ask, so I got the answer that I deserved. However, she never bothered to tell me how carrying a baby could alter other organs near the womb. I won’t linger on this one but suffice to say, some women who have given birth sometimes pee a little bit when they sneeze. I enjoyed being pregnant and did not even mind that sweet baby Kayleigh sat on my bladder causing me to wet my pants every time I laughed in my third trimester. However, I am a grandmother now and it’s still a roll of the dice every time I sneeze. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.
THE DAD BOD
A woman’s body alters with pregnancy and age. Nevertheless, men are not exempt from changes in their bodies as they age. Some men can suffer from what is now referred to as “Dad Bod”. The “dad bod” is what some men find themselves with after 40 years of age. It’s the big, bulbous gut on a body where everything else is pretty much the same as it always was. The “kettle belly syndrome” as my husband calls it, is cause for a lot of grief for today's mature male. They lament the loss of their once flat belly and defined abs. They mourn the death of their athletic build and the birth of the beach ball, which has taken up residence between their pecs (now moobs) and where their pants fasten. Keep in mind their pants used to fasten several inches higher and there was no Dunlop involved. For those who do not know, Dunlop = when your belly has done lopped over your belt. But don't be discouraged, my brothers. For whatever reason, the “dad bod” is the latest rage. It is the sought after physique of our day. My husband was extremely proud to show me with an article about how the dad bod is all the rage. He went from complaining about his “kettle belly” to telling me that young chicks dig the dad bod. I may or may not have thrown a shoe at him when he told me that. Okay, there is no maybe about it. I did.
BUT I THOUGHT…
When we are young and have no idea what romantic relationships are truly like, we are easily misled by Hollywood. Ladies, when is the last time you woke up first thing in the morning with a full face of professionally applied makeup, perfect hair and pleasant morning breath? In the movies, the couple wakes up beautiful (never any drool stains on the pillows) and they gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes, then they kiss (sometimes passionately). LIES! If I even open my mouth in the direction of my husband’s side of the bed in the morning, he makes a gagging sound, scrambles to get away and falls over the nightstand. While he’s on the floor, he looks under the bed for whatever wild animal got into the house during the night and pooped in my mouth while I was sleeping. Once I am up and catch my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I see my hair has doubled in volume, completely defies gravity and somehow goes in two different directions at the same time. My eyes are puffy and the remnants yesterday’s mascara has given me raccoon face. Never once have I seen a movie where the woman gets out of bed looking like Bigfoot went on a bender, snorted three times its body weight in cocaine and rolled around in a cow pasture all night. If I knew I was going to wake up as ugly as I do, I would have become a nun as a public service.
NOTHING LASTS FOREVER
Face it, our bodies change tremendously from age 21 to 65+. We used to get excited about staying out and partying every weekend. Now a good bowel movement is cause for celebration. We used to be able to perform gymnastic feats with our bendy little bodies and now we are astonished if we can get off the couch without our knees sounding like popcorn popping. Our idea of accomplishment when we were young was completing a 25-mile hike without stopping for a snack. Now we are bragging to everyone we know if we manage to get through an entire movie without falling sleep.
God designed us perfectly and the progression from youth to old age is natural. I have a theory. I believe the more things go south, the more I will appreciate that immortal body I will have someday when this “old busted joint” is gone. I’m sure God wants us to delight in that new body which doesn’t make noise when we get up; doesn’t sag and doesn’t have hair sprouting like weeds from the ears. They say you don’t appreciate the light if you never experienced the dark. I am confident I’ll be thanking the good Lord for my new body when I shed this one. By the way, I’ve put in a request for a fully loaded model; something sleek and fast. Truthfully, I doubt I’ll even care because “Gibler” and “Kettle Belly” will be more than content cruising the streets of heaven together, with good hair (none of it growing out of our ears), no morning breath and thank you Jesus, there won’t be any sneezing.