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Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number

Back when I taught at the university level, my students were often older than I was.  Sometimes it was only a year or two difference, and that was sort of awkward.  One of my students was in a punk band, and I would sometimes go to this club to hear him play.  And then I’d have to go home and grade his papers.  Some of my students were much older; one woman who stands out in my head is this woman who was in her 40’s and had returned to school to get her college degree.  She stayed after one day to talk to me about how strange she felt about me being her teacher.  On one hand, she could clearly see that I had more degrees and had information to impart.  But on the other, I hadn’t even been born when she was already married and having kids.  So … there was that.

I thought it was a little silly how internally distraught she seemed during this talk.  We had a low-stakes relationship — I was just her teacher.  We didn’t even see each other after the semester ended.  It wasn’t as if we were dating and constantly having to navigate melding two different stages of life.

Oh, and then I got a guitar teacher who is 9 years younger than I am and noooooooooooooooooow I get it.

On one hand, I still believe that age ain’t nothing but a number.  He has the information, I need the information, and I am paying him to give me the information.  It doesn’t matter if he’s older or younger than me; all I need him to do is teach me guitar.

And yes, I am incredibly conscious of the fact that I have grey streaks in my hair.  And my boob is resting on top of my guitar.  And did I mention the fact that I have poor bladder control when I sneeze?  And while this guy isn’t exactly a teenager, he’s all young and hopeful.

Maybe it is the hopeful part that I’m envying.  He’s still in that place where you look at how you want your life to unfold … AND YOU EXPECT THAT IT WILL HAPPEN CLOSE TO THAT.  Do you remember that place?  When I talk to him or the other people who work at the school, they talk about their future as if it will happen.  While they may privately have doubts that their rock band is going to strike it big, they project confidence that also shows the opposite: that they think there is every possibility in the world that their rock band will strike it big.

If you had asked me when I was their age about my future, I would have told you that kids were a given.  That when we felt ready, we’d just have a little sex and pop them out — 1, 2, and 3.  I would have told you that I’d publish books in the same way.  I’d just write them, send them off to my agent and — 1, 2, 3, and so on — they’d pop onto the shelves at the bookstore (if you had asked me back when I was their age, Kindles were unfathomable.  A book without paper?  Preposterous!).

And now, when I talk about my future, I sort of shrug at it and preface everything with an “I hope.”  I don’t take anything as a given anymore, and that’s a much scarier place to stand than where I was when I was my teacher’s age.  That ground felt stable.  This ground feel slippery.  I used to believe that where I was standing was solid; now I know from my own life or observing my friend’s lives that the ground can give out at any second.

That it’s all quicksand posing as concrete.

I recently had to buy new shoes, and I decided on a pair of 10-hole, steel-toed Docs.  I’ve worn Docs since high school and I’m partial to the steel-toed ones because (1) I once jokingly kicked someone and broke skin with them so they make me feel like they’re a good self-defense item and (2) they keep their shape vs. the non-steel ones that sort of start sagging over time.  I’ve always owned the 3-hole version.  I coveted boots while in college but didn’t think I could pull them off.  I felt like you had to have a certain attitude to pull off Doc boots, and I lacked that attitude.

It felt a little bit like guitar — a now or never proposition — and it was silly not to check them off my list; such a small thing.  When they arrived, I put them on and stomped around the house, and Josh joked that this was part of my mid-life crisis.  Later that night, I started bawling because I felt like I was trying to reclaim something with the shoes; go back in time, pretend I’m still in college, be that believing person again.  That I was trapped inside a Leonard Cohen song and “everybody knows” and it just looks like the equivalent of a comb-over.  My comb-over shoes.

I wouldn’t want to go back in time either.  I wouldn’t want to have to fight through everything again to get where I am today.  I bring the twins to my guitar lessons and they sit on the floor and watch.  I have two books out, so that part came true too.  I’m sure this just confirms what people my teacher’s age suspects — that you can have it all.  They see me with my twins and my books and it’s proof that this future can come true.  Isn’t that why we also find comfort in reading about people’s pregnancies or adoptions as much as it also pains us?  It’s proof that it does happen; and if it happened for them, it could happen for us. (Because, if you truly believed that it couldn’t happen at all, it would make more sense to stop trying to conceive or adopt, right?)

The thing is, back when I was my teacher’s age, it didn’t even occur to me that there could be a story in there.  I saw a mother out with her kids and I took it on face-value.  That she wanted kids, she had sex, she popped them out, end of story.  It didn’t even occur to me that while that may be true for some people, for other people, there is a story that you can’t tell from clues on the outside at all.

You see someone with a limb missing and you know there is a story somewhere there.  You see a woman without a child and you have no idea that there’s a plotline buried underneath the scene unfolding.

So, not really about learning guitar, which is both frustrating and fun.  But it’s the background story that is going on in my head as I learn chords.

I’m aware that those of you who are older than me are probably laughing at my age crisis, knowing full well what stage comes next.  But the thing is, just like my guitar teacher still believes he’s standing on solid ground, I can’t fathom what happens next.  Maybe you return to a place of believing again.  Maybe you discover how to turn that quicksand into concrete.  I don’t really want to know what happens next.  I just wish I also didn’t remember how I felt before.

How do you feel about aging?  Is age nothing but a number?  Do you ever feel self-conscious when you’re around younger people?  Are you glad you’re older and not as trusting of the future?  Do you wish you could go back to being that believing person again?


1 Meghan { 03.02.11 at 8:04 am }

As I approach my late 30’s I’m stuck with the “I’ve got everything I said I wanted, now what?” syndrome. Is it a mid life crisis? I don’t know. But I do look around and wonder what the hell comes next and I never used to do that. I always knew. And of course what I knew when I was younger didn’t happen in the same timeline but at least then I knew

2 Chickenpig { 03.02.11 at 8:30 am }

I agree with Meghan. I am in the “and they lived happily….ever….after?” stage of my life. Now what? Unlike yourself, I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do when I grow up. Or I should say, I HAD figured it out, but now I would have to start all over and it is an incredible uphill climb. I’m really not sure what I’m going to do, and being 40 and not knowing what you want to do is a scary thing. I would love to have the confidence of my 20 something self, just for an hour or two.

3 Delenn { 03.02.11 at 8:55 am }

Turning 41 this year was strange. Sometimes I still feel young and vital and just starting in my life–and then I realize I don’t know who this new pop sensation that are talking about is…or why the hell should I really care about Justin Beiber (cuz now that I am older I have seen crazes and “it” people come and go). And then I feel old. Really old. And then I see my son–who still makes me feel young–unless he is being particularly mature or looking particularly 12 in his clothes or…you get the point. Its like I have ebbs and flows of regret and compassion and hope and experience and non-experience. They all mix together. I guess at my most optimistic, I feel like I am still learning. And if you are still learning–you cannot be that old, right?

4 carlia { 03.02.11 at 8:57 am }

i’ll be turning 30 in a few months and the only reason that bothers me is because i thought i’d have at least 2 kids by now. i’ve already been passed up by younger siblings and cousins, but, at the same time, i wouldn’t trade with them for anything. i love my life. i love my husband and i love the time we’ve had together, which we wouldn’t have had otherwise. i still believe it will happen for us, though. we’ve got our cake and the kids will be the icing!

5 Tara (TIMO) { 03.02.11 at 9:03 am }

I, too, am in the “now what” phase of life. Married, had a career that I put on hold to raise my twins, now a SAHM. I was lucky because my career was exactly what I wanted since I was 8 years old. Exactly. DH is eligible to retire from the Air Force in 6 years. He’ll be 42 and, with his retirement pay, won’t need to work. It feels like our life is on hold until that date. We know we want to move back home (New England, Massachusetts in particular). He knows that he wants to get a job in an art museum. Not for the money but because it’s what he loves. A fresh start for him. But for me…I have no idea. If you had asked me at 20 or even 30 where I would be at 40, I never would have guessed this life.

6 loribeth { 03.02.11 at 9:08 am }

Having just turned (gulp) 50, I feel like I could have written this post. In fact, I HAVE written several posts about aging, but perhaps not quite so eloquently. 😉 Age never really used to bother me… until I was in my late 30s. For a very long time, it seemed like everyone I worked with was either more or less the same age as me, or older. And then we started hosting interns, either doing a work term at college or fresh out of school, in their early 20s, & all of a sudden, I became keenly aware of the generation gap, & the fact that, in their eyes, I was OLD. As you can imagine, the situation has not improved since then. We keep hiring these bright-eyed 20-somethings, & I just keep getting older. It’s weird to think that I have only JUST come to terms with the idea that I am not going to have kids — and yet I am actually old enough to be the mother of some of THESE kids (I know I was the same age as a former coworker’s mom, & I will probably soon be older than some of their parents). Yeesh.

As my dear Grandma once said about aging, “It beats the alternative.” I wouldn’t want to relive all the angst of my younger years. But sometimes, yes, I wish I could recapture a bit of that carefree optimism. I often wonder whether this is part of the legacy of stillbirth & infertility, or whether it’s inevitable with age — would I still be in the same or a similar place had we had children?

My husband seems to think we will be able to retire when I turn 55, and that would be fabulous — sort of a consolation prize for not having kids — but I look at how quickly the world keeps changing, all the people who thought they had pensions set for life who are now left with nothing, & (even though he is far more financially savvy than I am) I find it hard to be as certain that it will all work out for us.

7 Rebecca { 03.02.11 at 9:17 am }

I used to always want to be older. No matter what age I was (even into my early 30s), I wanted to be a year older. I don’t know if I felt like people would take me more seriously or what. I always looked younger than I was and I was generally younger than my peers, so I just felt the need to have people stop thinking I was so young and treating me like a kid. It isn’t true, now, that I’ve turned 36. Now I feel old. I don’t know when it happened, but it did. I teach college students, so I spend most of my time around 20 year olds. That used to make me feel young but lately it’s making me feel older!

And, yes, I think right now I do miss the time in my life where I just assumed everything would work out the way I planned it. I was less bitter and more hopeful. The other day I was thinking “wow, you know, I just always assumed I’d get married eventually even if I had no hope on the horizon. I had no idea how lucky I was.” Then, I made that assumption about kids. At 33 I was young and hopeful. At 36, I’m bitter and starting to assume things won’t work out.

I’m honestly not sure if that is just an “aging” thing or if IF has been what did this to me. I hope it’s IF because then I feel like one day I might actually be hopeful again!

8 Cassidy { 03.02.11 at 9:22 am }

I try to be the age I would be if I didn’t know how old I was.

9 Gail { 03.02.11 at 9:29 am }

I don’t have any trouble with aging and am proud to tell people my age. I even celebrate half birthdays, still. And, I’m in my 30s!
Although the idea of going back to re-live certain times in my life is appealing, I realize that there were challenges at each stage of my life. I loved being in college and often wish that I could go back (like the Avenue Q song). But, then I remember that I was working part-time and student teaching and getting ready for my wedding and double-majoring and taking extra credits each semester to graduate on time and I realize that it wasn’t as great as the wonderful memories made it seem in my head.
If anything, I often wish I could fast-forward through the crummy times on my life. Although this would mean aging faster, it would be nice to miss out on the stress. A few years ago, we were trying to sell a house and move 600 miles away, but the first contract fell through on the house after we’d moved everything 600 miles away and then house wouldn’t sell and we were stuck living apart and paying a mortgage and rent. It ended up going on for 16 months and, even though it’s been 3 years since then, I still have very few positive things to remember from that time period so I would have been fine with fast-forwarding through that time. The same is true with my current struggle with infertility. I’d love to wake up and find myself pregnant and know that the worst was behind me.
I know that there are some people who say that living through crummy times makes you stronger and that you learn from the experience, but I say Bull$h*t. I agree that short periods of conflict are good for the character, but enduring long stretches of seemingly unending time just plain sucks.

10 Donna { 03.02.11 at 9:46 am }

Wow! I think I read your post three times, then copied and printed it because I want to read it several more times. It resonated just that much with me. I agree “age ain’t nothin’ but a number”. My best friend (besides my husband) is one year older than my oldest daughter. She has a journalism degree and teaches high school English at the moment. She is also my mentor and my editor. She has given me the courage to write and so much more. I think we see the hope that they have and it gives us hope. I think we see them with so much life still ahead of them and it gives us life. I think they give us back the courage we once had. She gives me more than I could ever give her back. There is so much more to comment on, but I’d like to re-read your story again and absorb even more. Wonderful post.

11 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.02.11 at 11:05 am }

“My comb-over shoes.” Awesome.

Until joining this ALI community, I had always belonged to groups in which I was among the younger members. I was young for my grade and young for my work responsibilities.

Now I’m old for a mother. Now I’m an “elder stateswoman” in the ALI community. Yes, I am self-conscious. Age is a number and a stage and both mean something.

What I want is to always be able to balance hope and optimism with experience and wisdom. To have the best that both green and evergreen can offer.

12 Peg { 03.02.11 at 11:27 am }

I just turned 40 this year and I have to say it kind sucks. I physically feel older, I do’n’t necessarily feel any wiser, in fact, I know now that things can change in an instant and the plans I had in my 30’s (kids, international travel, perfectly decorated house) didn’t pan out EXACTLY how I had envisioned. All my friends in their 50’s say that the 40’s rock and they are so happy, but thus far I’m not really buying it. When I was 30 I was so happy to be out of the 20’s but this side of 40 just seems old and like it’s too late to do anything different (another baby, art classes, a new job). It almost feels like a door has been closed instead of one opening up. Thanks for the great post!

13 It is what it is { 03.02.11 at 11:36 am }

I recently wrote a post on being “the oldest” (http://itiswhatitisorisit.net/?p=1119) in my Moms Club. I will be forty-five in May. 45! I don’t look or feel it and my age as a number does not bother me. However what does bother me is the notion that I am likely on the other side of the first half of my life. And, it saddens me greatly to think I have less time left than I have already lived. I certainly don’t hang out, ticking my days off a magical end of life calendar, but I have been thinking of it in terms of wanting to make sure I live my life on my terms and as I want to.
I didn’t feel this way when I turned 40 (as if I thought of course I’d live until I was 80) but now, at 45, I feel like I am in the second half of my life and when I think of that and I think of my son and of the daughter we hope to adopt, it makes me teary.

14 Esperanza { 03.02.11 at 11:45 am }

First of all, I rocked a pair of bubble-gum green Doc boots for AGES! I was SO SAD when I had to get rid of them. I also had two other pairs of Docs that I wore all the time. They were great.

I’m still a relative youngin’ (30 years old) so I’m still kind of blinded to age. My thing is I always think everyone is in their mid-thirties and then I find out that actually they are in their mid-forties or beyond and I’m totally surprised.

I definitely had a bit of an age-crisis when I had my baby and I turned 30 but it was only in the context of my identity as a teacher: I realized that my students would no longer see me as the “young” teacher now that I was a mom and middle aged. Being the “young” teacher was a big part of my teacher persona and that was hard for me. I felt some definite growing pains there.

As far as my outlook on life, sometimes I appreciated the jaded feelings I have and sometimes I don’t. I’m glad I know that I might not have my second child in the way I hope because it prepares me for what might happen and shields me from a certain degree of disappointment and heartache. But there is a negative side as well. This morning a co-worker told me his girlfriend is pregnant. He showed me a picture of the test they took just last night. He was over the moon, totally naive to the fact that something might go wrong. I said, “I hope everything goes well” and he responded, “oh, it will” and I wanted to say, it might not! Don’t you realize!? But I didn’t. And that is when I don’t like it, when I’m scared for people instead of excited. That is when it bums me out.

15 sushigirl { 03.02.11 at 12:07 pm }

I felt really freaked when I was in hospital a couple of years ago and the doctors all looked really young. And I’m not even 30 yet!

I feel much older after going through IVF and everything than I did before I started. Sometimes I feel like I’m late 20s going on 50something.

Aging does have the advantage of being less likely to take crap from people.

But, although I feel very old sometimes, I am not too old to wear the latest pair of Docs I got – they’re not like classic docs but they have a plaid pattern inside and a ribbon instead of laces. I love them.

16 musicmakermomma { 03.02.11 at 12:13 pm }

Posts about aging always tweak me – 45 and counting. Before we got all involved in IF I never had an issue with aging, but now it sort of consumes me. I think getting older (and IF) has made me notice people’s stories more, at least I hope so. No one’s life is as straightforward and easy as it appears on the surface. I guess that means I’m getting wise?! Old age beats the alternative, but it really underlines what you’re doing with your life.

17 Christina { 03.02.11 at 12:26 pm }

I employ guys that are older than me and it is tough, and it is getting easier as I get older. It probably just bothers me because I let it.

I referenced this post in my own blog because I loved what you said about taking people at face value. http://havingkidssoundssimple.blogspot.com/2011/03/i-need-healthy-perspective.html

Have a great day!

18 IrisD { 03.02.11 at 12:58 pm }

At 42, it certainly does feel that age matters, and you captured what the trouble for me is beautifully… that loss of “innocent optimism”. I used to daydream so much, and now it feels like I don’t have much to dream about. I wish I could say I’m in the “happily ever after (no what) stage”, but I’m not. At 42, I’m coming to the realization that I will not be a mom, my husband is 56 and seemingly uninterested in the prospect of adopting/ivf, etc. I went back to school and am very close to finishing a PhD, but this struggle with infertility has made me regret the time and the money it took to go back to school, and I’ve lost interest in my work. It was a very draining process and the search for a job at this point feels really daunting. Like starting anew when you are just tired of it all. I have no faith that I will be able to retire early. In my 40s, I am for the first time in debt, and have not had a full time income in several years. At the same time, my parents are aging, and I’ve lost two dear aunts in the last year. I’m trying really hard to “live in the now”…. and recapture some of that enthusiasm, or at least find contentment.

19 Kir { 03.02.11 at 1:03 pm }

I feel a lot like Delenn, and I think it’s because we are the same age. I could have written her answer, and yours. That once upon a time I just felt certain that I would stop being “wild and Crazy” and get married and have my kids, never stopping to think that it might not happen just that way.

Yes, I wish all the time I could turn the clock back or go back to wide eyed innocence. I want my head to BELIEVE what my heart is always telling it. I was never very rational, but the more I grow up the more I have it and it scares me so. I liked when I just lived…
of course that would probably mean I’d be a piss poor example for G & J…so I struggle with the both sides. Hoping for a middle ground in the middle of my chest.


20 jenG { 03.02.11 at 1:11 pm }

I was lucky. I had excellent role models for aging. By the time I turned 30, I’d known so many awesome 30-year-olds that I was like, yeah, okay, I can be awesome, too. Apparently, I still look younger than I am, though, so that might be shielding me from some of the usual concerns (I get Miss instead of Ma’am sometimes and regularly get carded).

My dad recently picked on me about “getting up there,” and I snapped back that my 30s have been, by far, my best decade yet. “Yeah,” he said. “So were mine.” He’s nearing 60. That made me sad.

I have a perhaps unrealistic notion that each decade is a little bit better than the last its own way. It’s worked that way so far. Life seems a bit new and shiny for me these days–the last few years have turned things around and I’m starting over in a lot of ways, but with the support, resources, and confidence I never had in my 20s. Of course, I didn’t know I needed them then…

I really, really like being 33, but I think it’s mostly because I finally really, really like being me, and I really, really like who I’m with and where we’re headed. I don’t think that’s limited to an age, but maybe it confers some grace to an otherwise meaningless number.

(Also, hi! Nice to meet you. I got here through Julie at a little pregnant.)

21 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 03.02.11 at 1:53 pm }

Like Lori, I’ve always been the youngest — youngest in my grade, younger than DH and all of his friends, younger than most at my career stage, youngest to get married, youngest to start TTC (though eventually one of the last to successfully conceive among our friends!), and since I was 21 I’ve had several friends who were twice my age or more.

Somewhere in the two years since I got pregnant with the twins, I’ve gone from young to oh crap. Now we have several friends who are much younger, and I keep wanting to scream at them, “I was young too, once! I used to know all of the bands and drink beer out of bottles too!”

I’ve always looked “good” for my age (looked older when I was a teenager, and then younger as an adult) so it’s not appearance-based, yet.

My mother has always been secretive about her age, so much so that she’d try to make me lie about my age to her friends so that she’d seem younger. I’ve always been totally fine with whatever number I’m at.

Maybe it’s just being 35 and still not being sure if I can cover the bills this month. I’m too old for this shit.

22 HereWeGoAJen { 03.02.11 at 2:38 pm }

I don’t know, I still feel young. Probably because I am still young and also I look younger than I am. (Or so I am told. I always look like me to me.) I’m wondering if when I turn 30 (a few months), I will stop feeling like I have to say “only” when people ask me how old I am. I still feel young when I need to tell my birth year too, like 1981 is still considered childish. (People born in the 70s or earlier have always been “grown up” to me, even though that can be only TWO years older than me.)

23 Dana { 03.02.11 at 3:05 pm }

Last week, my oldest finally lost her first tooth, something she’d been longing for. Her younger sister immediately burst into tears because SHE wanted to lose her tooth. It got me thinking about milestones and how, as children, we’re always waiting for the next big event: becoming a teenager, learning to drive, going to prom, losing our virginity, going to college, etc.
And as young adults, we do the same thing. We look forward to getting a job, getting married, buying a house, having kids.
I wondered what milestones we have left when we’ve accomplished all that.
But, having said that, I can tell you that I’m going to celebrate 40 in June and I’m excited. Really, really excited. My 30s felt so full of sorrow – unspeakable joy too – but so much anguish that I’m looking forward to a new decade.
Like you, I have trouble escaping the hurt of infertility. But I don’t feel unsteady from having my naivete or optimism dashed, I actually think I prefer the outlook its given me. I don’t take a single thing for granted anymore and I search for the joy in tiny details. Trying to suck as much from moments and days as I can. I don’t think my future is guaranteed anymore and while it sounds depressing, I think that actually motivates me.
I’m not Zen about the outward signs of aging, especially the wrinkles on my face that seem to increase every day, but I do feel strong. To celebrate 40, I entered myself in a Tough Mudder event: 20 military-style obstacles spread out over a 10-mile course on the side of a Pennsylvania mountain. I want to be terrified and challenged. I want to push myself and feel empowered.
I want to live strong. While I can.
I think that’s the difference: I don’t need the milestones to propel me anymore, I’m living for now.

24 Sharon { 03.02.11 at 3:57 pm }

I can say wholeheartedly that, even taking our infertility into consideration, I am more at peace with myself and happy now, at nearly-40, than I was at an younger age. So in that sense, no, I wouldn’t want to go back to being younger. It’s taken a lot of work for me to get to this point in my life, both internally and externally.

The one area in which I yearn to be 20 again instead of 40 is my fertility. Obviously my chances of conceiving naturally would be much higher, and even if I were still infertile, I would have more time to deal with the problem. I never planned to be a 40-year-old mom, and I am now in a position where I will be lucky to be a 41-year-old mom.

Ah well. It is what it is.

25 BigP's Heather { 03.02.11 at 4:44 pm }

I had a hard time turning 30 this past October. I was used to being the young person, the kid in the group and now I’m not. I was the baby of the family, the younger sister, the preacher’s kid…now I’m an adult. It is weird to going from belonging to someone else (A’s sister, C’s kid) to owning someone else (a wife, a mother). I don’t feel grown up enough for those titles.

I own a car and a vehicle. I’ve been married almost nine years. We have a two year old and three dogs. Yet, I keep wondering when I am going to feel like an adult. I feel old but not grown up yet.

26 a { 03.02.11 at 10:13 pm }

I’m in the “always looked younger than my age” group. People don’t believe I’m 41. I got carded not too long ago (and since I had a speeding ticket, and my state takes your license when you get a speeding ticket, I couldn’t buy the beer I was trying to buy), which was odd. The cashier said “I’ve even carded people in their 40s!” and I said “I’m in my 40s!”

Mentally, I feel like I’m about 20, although my life experience since I was 20 has been wide and varied (moreso than many people I know of a similar age). Physically, I’ve just been made aware that I’m not 20 any more – whiplash doesn’t go away in a couple days when you’re in your 40s. It’s just an odd place to be. I’m in a career holding pattern. I’m in a life holding pattern. I’m one of the older moms, so it’s hard to relate to other moms. But, since I’m a go-with-the-flow sort of person, I don’t really worry about it much.

27 TasIVFer { 03.02.11 at 10:32 pm }

I’m in an odd place with my feelings towards aging. I’m 40 and pregnant; *if* all continues well, I’ll be 41 when Little Spark is born. When I miscarried my son Blobby, one of the billions of things that upset me was he was my last change to have a child in my 30s; he was due 2 weeks before my 40th birthday. If he had lived I would have been able to tell people I had him in my ‘late 30s’. It’s strange the things that go through your mind. Now I worry that at my age and with all the years and years of IVF behind me, I’m just not healthy enough to carry Sparky. I fear that at my age I won’t recover quickly or well if I do make it. I feel self-conscious being so old and pregnant. I feel like I have to people how many years we tried for, as if them knowing that I was much younger when we started makes a difference.

I have no idea what my future looks like. I don’t know if it will ever involve a living child, and if it does I don’t know what that looks like at all – beyond imagining. And if it doesn’t, I don’t know what that looks like either. I’ve been sort of putting my future on hold for years, waiting to see where IVF would take me, so I don’t know where I want to go. And it’s a strange place to be for someone who has always been goal-oriented and worked hard until I got where I wanted to be. Failure has never been an option before.

Part of me wishes I could be the believing me again; it’s been a long time since I was that person. When I was that believing person I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do and where I wanted to live. However now I don’t do what I thought I wanted to do and I don’t live where I thought I wanted to live, and those parts of my present aren’t so bad.

Except for being dissatisfied with *where* I’m doing my job right now (but I stay because of the easy-going manager that’s made IVF appointments and stuff easy), I like my job. I’m a business analyst; I work with various government services to figure out how I can make their computers better slaves for them. And then I direct geeky people to make it so. And I manage the project along. Wanna know what I was gonna be? An academic; my first few degrees are in comparative literature and philosophy.

I live in Australia. The believing me was going to live in Europe; that’s where I did my first few degrees. I would *never* have picked that I could love this country so much; I wasn’t even attracted to it as a holiday destination. Now I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

As much as I wish I could be the believing me, I don’t know that she necessarily made the best choices.

28 Missy { 03.03.11 at 12:26 am }

I know I used to believe everything I wanted would be mine and in a timely manner. And then I turned 24 grew some sense and still carried that naivety around. Then I turned 30, have one thing I wanted, two things I wanted die, and the rest has all become pretty much obsolete. I no longer make plans too far in advance since there’s no guarantee I’ll get there. It all sounds so very pessimistic, but I’m over being disappointed.

29 PaleMother { 03.03.11 at 11:11 am }

I’m with Peg, but don’t mind me because I’m going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment (at least I hope it’s just a “patch” lol). I think my stage of aging is a bit like “reverse” adolescence. Awkward as hell without the physical payoffs in the end to look forward to. Some of it is just exhaustion and some of it is biochemical and some is circumstantial. When I peel those factors off, I may rediscover some of my former toughness and resilience. But right now I’m feeling pretty vulnerable to age. For me there is a big difference between 30 … or even 35 … and 40 and especially beyond (it takes time to sink in). I think for some people it is a good time, but apparently I still have some hard work to do.

The Great Divide is more about the illusions or the lack thereof, as you pointed out, than it is about strict numbers. People on either side are just poorly matched dinner guests. Like Eli Weisel vs. The Valley Girl. Paint Ball Warriors vs. Iraq & Afganistan veterans. It’s an IF veteran vs Michelle Duggar. It’s a special needs parent vs. a competitive parent. It’s not that they ~can’t~ respect each other or get along or even enjoy each other for a short time. It’s just hard for them to figure out how to make the best use of one another.

Do I think I’m better off without my illusions? Yes. The way I’m better off without sugar and refined carbs and a sedentary lifestyle and all of the other things that are easy and comfortable but terrible for me in the long run.

Lately, I could right a week of blog posts just about feeling self conscious around younger people (when you think about it though, it should be the other way around). I went to a middle school orientation last night that blew. my. mind.

Do I wish I could go back? Not to ignorance, but to self-confidence. Yes. But then, as I said, I’m way off my game lately. I’ll just keep swimming and hopefully this, too, shall pass. I do find myself craving older mentors something awful. Someone who has BTDT and can tell me with some authority to just calm down. 😉

30 jennifer { 03.03.11 at 11:20 am }

You’ve definitely struck a chord in me with this one 😉

31 Lex { 03.04.11 at 6:42 am }

It’s strange, I’m still in the young and hopeful “anything could happen” stage, by my age at least. I’m 23. I should believe that babies will just come, that two pink lines mean you should plan on a baby in 8 months, that anything I put my mind to will come.
But I don’t (obviously) so I really don’t feel my age anymore. I have a hard time identifying with most people I know under the age of 30. It’s a weird place to be.

32 Bea { 03.06.11 at 4:14 am }

Sometimes I feel like aging is a process of continually revising your expectations downwards. At ten, it’s “save the world” – by twenty it’s “save a village” and then at some point you just start hoping to not stuff things up *irreparably* for future generations. I suspect that, at some stage, you do start feeling more powerful again. I suspect you start noticing the little things you can do that make a big difference somewhere. Not rock-star type stuff, but important stuff all the same.

At least that’s what I’m hoping.


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