As my daughters are asking to go shopping for pushup bras and birth control, I am aging. At age 48 and 25 years clean and sober, nothing of the material feels new anymore. They ask for acne creams and I am searching for anti-aging serums. I am in the tween years now. I am not speaking of the typical designation for the eight to twelve year old as you know it, but the new designation of the middle aged woman spinning toward senior citizen status. I am not quite young and not quite old. Like the eight to twelve year old……. no longer a little girl and not even near a young adult: It is an awkward age. My eye sight is disappearing before my eyes and all of the “tools” I need to see now feel cumbersome and disjointed. I need contacts to see far and store bought “readers” to see close. Eating is a challenge unless I do not wear the contacts because the readers are half on and half off and fall onto my plate. But if I do not wear the contacts then I can’t see my husband across the table. I think my hearing is going but I am too afraid to find out.
My body is awkward too. Some days I am full of energy and other times I can’t get enough rest. Some nights I cannot sleep for more than six hours or my body begins to ache and forces me out of the bed to start my day at 4am. And then I am nearing zombie status by 8pm when the teenagers are just getting started. I no longer wait for them to do their homework and go to bed before I retire because I simply cannot keep myself vertical. Their pushup bras are fun and sexy like candy and parties, whereas I go to bed with a full coverage batten down the hatches contraption to prevent further sagging. Depending on what shoes I have worn that day-my feet cramp and ache. I cannot where heels anymore and have to be careful about arches.
My teenagers tell me that at their age they cannot function until after 9pm and that is when the homework starts along with the night’s television entertainment like Glee or Gossip Girls. In the morning during the week they are moody but beautiful in their sleep deprived youthful glory. They stroll out for the carpool a few minutes late and wonder why anyone would care to be to school on time anyway. They eat Poptarts and drink Red Bull. They get mad when I drop them off 5 minutes until the bell rings because they do not like to linger before class, they want to wait longer in the car and text their friends and rush into their classes with the bell. I go to bed early, get up early and eat bran to stay regular and take a handful of supplements for “brain” clarity and low grade depression. I get to work early in case I have forgotten to do something the day before that would be critical to my day. I look at my calendar a million times so that I do not miss any appointments and I write everything down because my brain is full after all these years and doesn’t store information the way that it used to.
They are each plump in all the right places with full lips and sparkly eyes. I am old and withered everywhere with old hair that keeps falling out when I brush it and wrinkles on my neck. Nothing is full and plump anymore except my belly. We all menstruate at the same time but my periods are telling me the end is near and their periods are telling them that they have just begun. They ask for permission to go to proms, football games, movies and parties. In some cases I am told to drop off and pick up from a distance to prevent embarrassment. I am happy to stay home with my husband and watch Netflix while working on my email. I am not quite old and not quite young anymore and the contrast with my beautiful girls sometimes stings a bit. But for now I have the kind of settled feeling of a lifetime well lived because of 12 Step Recovery and oddly, I embrace the opportunity to feel awkward again.