2/10/2006

Astroturf on a Pile of Dirt

I’ve been thinking about my mortality a lot lately. Why? A handful of reasons, really. Permit me to ramble (I hope the kids are napping, 'cause this is a long one) and forgive my hasty editing. Chronological age has a bit to do with this. Hitting those big decade markers can be a nasty eye opener (an eye with growing crow’s feet in my case). I recently hit one of said markers, so there’s that. Which one? Well, when I drive through the university campus near my house I’ve got a good ten years on most of the Uggbercrombie and Floss wearing co-eds. They’re lucky I am so infatuated with my new(ish) guilt-mobile that I don’t imbed their jay-walking-while-spaced-out iPod/cell phone laden young bodies into my grill. They likely wouldn’t even really smoosh into it softly - their youthful tabernacles are still firm enough that they’d likely really leave a mark. Speaking of marks… I gave birth for the first time last year. I know, I know, if you took the time to do the math your equation would yield thusly: 1 thirty year old mormon woman married >5 years just now giving birth = freak of nature hell child. Well, you don’t have to remind me. I see and feel it every week at church when I see what I assume is a Laurel or even Mia Maid lugging a baby or two and I think “Oh how nice, she’s helping a mom” and then she heads into the mother’s lounge fumbling with her blouse. Yeah. I get it. I’m late to the party. What I don’t get is how I can be SO late to the party when I was using my Holly Hobbie Easy Bake Oven, playing Bionic Woman and Evil Knievel, and being mesmerized by a lite brite only yesterday. If you have young children and you have no idea who the Bionic Woman was then it is you to whom I refer when I speak of the Mia Mommy/Lactating Laurel at church. You are beautiful, you are the picture of righteousness, and you are a stereotype. Yes, you will be sending your child on a mission before you are menopausal. You and your husband will have heirs in the kingdom yea even a third generation before you even qualify for social security. You have the energy to home school and lactate without end. You have many miles left in your maternity wardrobe (size 4) and you somehow manage to smile through it all. You may even have the moxie to wear a bathing suit in public ‘cause um stretch marks? – nu-uh. Oh to have the breasts and energy of a twenty year old. I am so tired. Sick and tired. And sick. Ahhhh sickness. Nothing smacks of the finality of it all like being conscious of your own deterioration and disease. I’ve been sick on and off for upwards of 15 years. Come to think of it, the 15th anniversary of my first major bout of illness is this weekend (perhaps I should have a cupcake!). You name it I’ve sampled it. Chronic? Check. Accute? Check. Life threatening? Yup. Nothing like years and years of doctors and diagnoses and theories and tests and surgery and drugs and ER’s and clinics and scans and probes and co-pays and appeals and Bring the Lady her Acronyms Honey and the office staffs of Drs. Oops & Dope. I have an extra special place in my heart for Dr. Incompetent. Unlike Heather O with her Dr. Ugly Teeth I have absolutely no problem naming a name with my Dr. Incompetent: DR. HARVEY SWAN I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU. I’m sick of being sick. I’m sick of having to think about living wills and advanced directives and whether or not I need to be thinking about my astoundingly sympathetic husband remarrying and what I should do in the way of making sure my son knows who his mother was (hello? past tense?). No, I’m not currently dying so relax with the oh goodness whatserbucket can I bring you a meal. Just promise me you’ll be vigilant about staying on top of your health and we’ll call it even. So they say they think they “got it all” but still – I have to go back every 2-3 months for several more years to get checked and after that every 6 months for the rest of my life. That I even have to consider all of those end-of-life things right now and plan vacations around cancer screenings – sucks. Sucking. If I didn’t sufficiently allude to it above, breastfeeding sure does a number to those melons, doesn’t it? The sisters have never been so low. When I was a kid and I’d sneak peaks into the nudie pages of National Geographic I always wondered why those ladies in Africa had breasts like that. They looked like the orange in the toe of my Christmas stocking or like a deflated banana. I thought, “hmmm boobies in Africa sure look different than boobies here”. What I didn’t realize was that boobies here are hoisted stuffed tucked and supported in ways that are comparable to the engineering feats supporting the world’s largest and longest suspension bridges. Having perky, erect bosoms after lactating is about as natural as Joan Rivers’ face. Maybe some of you managed to lactate without qualifying yourselves for the “tribal” category in the Breasts of the World edition of National Geographic, but my ladies are there. And how. Their tour of duty was epic (baby sucking, baby biting, mastitis, plugged ducts, hot and cold compresses, cabbage leaves, lactation consultant visits, lanolin, saline soaks, nipple shields, nipple guards, fancy-ass bras and nipple nappies, machinery nozzles – the works) and it shows. The decay of youth is ever evident right here on my chest. I am daily reminded of decay. To get nearly anywhere I need to go, I have to drive past a cemetery. It’s kind of an old one, too. I looked it up, and its first interment was in 1845. There are more than 124,000 folks pushing up daisies in the 300 acres down the street from where I sit. They were all young once. They were all someone’s baby. Plenty of them never even got to be old, let alone complain about it. As the seasons pass some of the graves get attention. This can be in the form of various floral deposits both natural and plastic, flags, or mementos. One grave got a little fence of candy canes and a Christmas train display with gingerbread people around it this year. The thought of the life remembered within that makeshift shrine and the likelihood that it is that of a child haunts me. Compared to a lot of those folks in the cemetery I am already old. So what constitutes old anyway? I wonder if I will get to be the kind of old where you are all gray and wrinkly and use a cane and have a lot of knitted things in your house. I mean health and stuff notwithstanding, I could get hit by a bus in the morning and POOF! No knitted stuff, no cane. What will be of my life when I go? Is somebody going to feel bad for me if I don’t get fake mums on my headstone on mother’s day? I suppose I really ought to thank my lucky stars and garters (and girdles and support bras and wrinkle cream and fiber supplements) that I’ve gotten to be on this crazy ride as long as I have. Fact is… I’M NOT DEAD YET! I just feel like it some days. Sigh. Thanks for listening.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Sue M said...

I'm right there with ya... Sometimes I think I'm the only woman in Utah County who waited till after 19 to have kids. I was 29 when I had my first. It always freaks me out when I realize that the other moms with kids my same age are a full decade younger than me. My neighbor is two years older than I am and has an 18 year old. We're the same age but we're in totally different phases of our life. It's odd. When we lived in different city, I was a "young mom." In Northern Utah County, I'm an old mom. Oh well.

2/11/2006 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

I enjoyed this post, but might I prevail on you to change the title?

I blog regularly with wee ones reading over my shoulder and whether at MMW or an aggregator, I don't need them picking up new bathroom words.

2/11/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger whatserbucket said...

Apologies.

2/11/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

This is one of the best posts I've read so far this year. Thank you.

I can relate to a lot of it--like the health problems and stupid, annoying doctors. And feeling so old and worn down--although I'm 5 years older than you, and 30 seems young to me.

But I was one of those 19 year olds with a baby. And every ward I've lived in I have never fit into. The ward I'm in now, I want to hang out with the women my age (or a little younger), but they all have toddlers. Toddlers? What are those? I have teenagers. It seems like the moms with teenagers are all much older than me. Or maybe I just haven't grown up enough.

2/11/2006 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

The trend is shifting...When I mention I married at 19, many women gape at me in horror.

Yet, I live in Provo.

I remind people I had my first at 22. They gape in horror.

I can understand that it can be hard for women that start their families when they are older than the "Mormon Norm" ---but I don't see anything but sympathy for us that do start our families a little younger. Why is that? Why can't people just be happy for everyone no matter when or how they start their families?

I was out to dinner with some girlfriends the other night. We were all within the ages of 22 and 26 and I was completely FLOORED that not only was I the only one with more than one child --I was the only one with a Bachelor's Degree.

They gaped in horror....

2/11/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

This was an wonderful post, and just what I needed to read today. Im in the same boat with you, in almost every single way...

First at 29, decade older than the other moms I know and cannot relate to, serious health issues, including bi-annual MRI on brain to make sure the noodle in there isn't growing, chronic, peptic, assinine doctors, and all the garbage, both emotional and temporal that goes with it.

People talk about the struggles that the pioneers went through, and weather or not they could have done it. That is an easy one for me- even 40 years ago I wouldn't be alive right now, so pioneer? Hah! Im a grave on the side of the trail.

The most frightening moment was understanding why someone whould want to die- where dying would be prefereable to the pain. Im too young to be this old.

Thanks for sharing.

2/11/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger FluffyChicky said...

I totally understand cheryl's comments...all of my coworkers ask me "Do you have your degree?"
"Yes."
"Are you married?"
"Yes."
"How old are you?"
"25."
"Really? That's pretty young. So what, have you been married a year or two?"
"5 1/2 actually."
Pause..
Pause..
Me smiling nicely.
"Soooo...are you guys going to have kids later?"
"No, we have them now."
Eyes bug out.
"How many?"
"Oh, we have a 4 year old son and a 15 month old daughter."
Then most of them make some excuse about having to go check their voice mail and leave in a big hurry. Its kind of funny. All of my coworkers are transplants from Colorado and are not use to us Idaho Mormons. :)

2/11/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Wow. The staff at MMW is not in great shape healthwise, are we! Seems like we could all use a day at the spa. Nothing makes you feel more alive than a massage, a pedicure, a manicure, and a facial. Makes you feel like you could keep up with the 20 year olds after all. Especially when somebody else pays for it. Donations to the MMW "We're all dying of crazy diseases and we need a break" fund, anyone?

Tracy-

I don't like MRIs. At all. I've only had 2, but I literally have already had dreams about them. And even in my dream, I'm taking deep breaths to stay calm. I can't imagine having to get one every six months.

2/11/2006 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Mommy said...

Mentally I feel quite young. Physically I feel quite old. And neither of those extremes is anywhere close to my actual age. During my last hospitalization the doctor told me that they were shocked to see someone so young, who wasn't an alcoholic, with my problems. It gets frustrating sometimes, but it makes for a good story later. And I figure that by the time I retire everything will have been removed or replaced, so I'll be good to go.
"Yes, you will be sending your child on a mission before you are menopausal. You and your husband will have heirs in the kingdom yea even a third generation before you even qualify for social security."
Yes, this may very well be true, if I am lucky.
"You have the energy to home school and lactate without end. You have many miles left in your maternity wardrobe (size 4) and you somehow manage to smile through it all."
Hardly. I guess it just means that I'm not as young as I thought.

2/11/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

I'm with you on the old thing.

But I actually really love cemetaries. I know, it's crazy, but I love them. I always feel so peaceful walking around them. It's actually kind of life affirming for me. (I know! I already acknowledged that it was weird!) I can't really articulate why, I guess it gives me some perspective.

Those of us who know who you are are putting your name in the temple regularly. Maybe I should add Tracy M as well. What do you think, Tracy?

2/12/2006 02:11:00 AM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Wiz- thanks. Being on the temple roll is always such a gesture of love. That would be just fine.

2/12/2006 03:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

Wiz, I love cemeteries, too. Always have. I love the sense of history you get there.

I also like being 35 and telling people I've been married for 17 years.

2/12/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth-W said...

I was more than 30 when I had my first; when I had my second the doctor gave me a book for mothers over 35 (bascially the goal was to get me to have all sorts of amnio whatever to find out if my baby was going to be 'defective' in some way--I declined).
So I totally related to the nursing room full if minors. To add to this feeling of on the downhill slope, menopause runs early in my family, as in before 40, so here I am with a toddler, and going months, then a couple weeks between cycles. When the perimenopause started, the wrinkles around my eyes seemed to become ditches!
But, I haven't had the struggle you have with health issues. I'm sure that expands the aging/mortality issue exponentially. Anything I can think of to write that might sound supportive just sounds lame. Just know that there are women out there sending you sustaining thoughts.

2/13/2006 03:27:00 PM  

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