I’m Not a Sappy Mom, Part Deux

So, I got a little off track with this topic in my original post, I figured I should continue it here.

I have a separate theme prepared in my head, regarding Facebook, but I’m going to address a small portion of that, here.
I’m sure that many of you already have Facebook pages, and, if any of you are Mothers, you will likely be guilty of the transgressions I am about to discuss.

When I open my Facebook page, apart from the various requests for 3 bricks to build someone’s henhouse, a pig heart for someone else’s Satanic temple, and the announcement that someone has created the word “ho” in WWF, this is what I am bombarded with:

“OMG, today Johnny ate his first Cheerio, I’m sooo XCITED!”
“LOL, here’s a picture of our Wendy sitting on the lawn in her pink dress.  Isn’t that soooo awesome!!???”
“I’m so proud to say that Jaleel stopped sucking his thumb today, and won the “I’m a Big Kid!” award at daycare!  He’s growing up!!  I’m so proud!!!!!!!”
“Today, our Sasha got her first training bra!  It was a big day for our family, we celebrated and went out to eat!”
“HAHA, here’s a picture of our Wendy sitting on the lawn in her blue dress.  Isn’t that soooo awesome!!!??”

All I can say is, what the hell is wrong with these people?  You’re telling me that your life is so ridiculously mundane that the most exciting thing (ever!!!!!!) to post about is a f-cking training bra?  I’m sorry to tell you this, but this crap is boring, and you need to get a life.

Now, I do understand that, when you become a parent, it pretty much sucks up your pre-parent personality and life, and it generally consumes your day to day activities for at least 18-25 years.  I understand it, I get it, I’ve been there.  The clincher is, no one wants to hear about it.  Furthermore, if you’re so enamoured with the fact that your kid is sitting on the lawn, and have to post about it, you probably have some issues.  If your life is somewhat boring (it’s okay!  We’re not all rock stars out there!), own up to it and stop trying to make it sound like something romantic.

I could go into a whole sidebar here on how we’re growing (or have grown) a generation of kids who think that every single thing they do is worthy of an award, earned or not, but I won’t.  What I will go into, though, is the class of Mothers who believe that every bowel movement should be exonerated, and who refuse to shut the hell up about their kids.

When Spenser was growing up, he was quite beautiful and well-behaved.  I’m not just saying this, he really was.  I’m not saying that he didn’t have his awkward/ugly phases, he did (5th grade is never an attractive time, is it?).  I also know that he is no angel, despite what my mother says.  For the most part, though, he looked like a kid in a Ralph Lauren advertisement, and acted like one, too.  Whatever that means.

Anyway, though Facebook did not exist (at least, not on my computer) back in his early childhood days, I felt no need to pronounce to the world that he threw up all over our table at iHop one Sunday after church (though, I admit, it’s a funny story).  Or that he ate a bagel with cream cheese and really enjoyed it.  Or that he wore a green plaid shirt with khaki pants on his first day of Kindergarten. Anyone who saw or knew Spenser didn’t need pronouncements of his “greatness,” because they encountered it, first hand.  Do I have pictures to mark the occasions (except the vomiting one)?  Sure.  Did I run out to every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the street to show them the pictures?  Certainly not.

Not because I didn’t think my kid was fabulous, but because I didn’t think I had to show proof that he was.

Him, being, was proof enough.

Over the years, of course I told stories of his real achievements and milestones.  But I had other things to discuss as well.  My job, the War in Iraq, the Meaning of Life, and my unending search for a Renaissance Man, to name a few.  My daily life is not overly thrilling, kid, or no kid.  I don’t need to drag you and 327 other people into it.  Call me crazy, but I like to have meaningful conversation, at least some of the time.

When I went for a rare night out with friends, I wasn’t constantly worried about what he was doing or if he was okay.  I didn’t miss him.  And I didn’t drone on and on about him with my non-parent friends.  It was three hours of Just Me time, and I was going to enjoy it.  I’m not going to apologize for this.  I promise you, unless my son is serving overseas in the military, or away from me for like, 2 weeks (at least),  I won’t be talking about how much I miss him.

Overall, what I’m trying to say, in my fully honest and certainly not sappy way, is that Motherhood can really suck, and if you claim that your life is just perfect as a Mother, I don’t believe you.  It’s not all oohing and aahing and pretty pictures on lawns.  You love your child, but it’s not easy to feel that when you have had only three hours of sleep in a 72 hour period.  You love your child, but it’s not easy to feel that when his principal calls to tell you that he wrote the ‘f-word’ on the wall in the Boys’ Room. You love your child, but it’s not easy to feel that when he rips up his home made Mother’s Day card to you because you wouldn’t let him ride his bike with a cast on his leg.

The funny thing is, these un-pretty moments are what make you a Mother.  The ability to love your child/children through all the really tough bits, even when it feels like you are on a fast sinking ship.  The people who only have the pretty stories to tell are in denial.  The people who “miss” their children during their 1 hour per month romance time with their (likely neglected) Soulmate are ridiculous.

I love my boy with everything I have, and I am blessed to have him in my life.  He is a Joy, and, I feel, a gift to this Earth and the people who inhabit it.  If you’ve met him, maybe you already know.  If you haven’t, you’ll just have to figure it out for yourself.  I’m not going to try to convince you (or myself) with pretty pictures or nonsense stories.

When your child saves the life of a wheelchair bound grandma from a burning nursing home, by all means, post about it on Facebook.  Until then, no one wants to hear about his Cheerio or progression from thumb sucking.  Tell the story of how proud you are that s/he stood up to a bully and got a black eye and suspended from school in the process.  Tell the story of how you met your husband and how lucky you are to have him.  Tell the story of your dream to learn authentic Italian cooking by traveling to Italy.  Get a life, go out on a real date, open your eyes, and stop being a sappy Mom.

This hurts me more than it’s going to hurt you…..

In continuing on the theme of Motherhood, I think I should mention that, along with the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book, there should be another book (maybe I’ll write it), concerning the “psychology” of Motherhood, that all prospective Moms should have on their nightstand.

Now, this is not going to be about physical punishment of children, as the title may imply.  Rather, it is about that funny thing that clicks in your head once you cross over from being a normal person to being a crazed and confused (at times) parent.  Since it is mostly illegal and likely fruitless to beat our children senseless, we are forced to become the emotional switch-bearers in their quest to learn about life.

I used to say that anyone can physically take care of a child…  you may not be a pro, but you (or any primate… or wolves…) understand that your baby needs to be fed, should have his/her diapers changed regularly, and can’t be left out in the rain for extended periods of time.  It’s not the physical part that is difficult, even if you have only had 3 hours of sleep within a 72 hour period.  It’s the mental part.

Once you get past the sleepless days, and teething, and learning to walk, and terrible two’s, and the first day of school, you enter into a new phase, when your child starts making his/her own decisions about his life and his surroundings.

I never really understood the whole ‘this hurts me more’ thing, until I became a parent.   I’m pretty sure that no one, ever, will understand that phrase, until becoming a parent.  I’m guessing that teachers kind of get this, too, to some extent.  It is a proven fact that kids, most definitely, do not get it.

Generally, the opportunity to use this phrase (in your head) will arise when some sort of punishment or consequence must be meted out, when your cherub has broken a rule or has directly disobeyed your orders.  It is an occasion for which there is no doubt of the culprit, and the punishment has already been discussed, beforehand.  Sometimes, there is not even a real punishment that must be enforced, because the disastrous result of your child’s decision has created it.
An example here would be something like this:

Your kid was dying for a Game Boy.  He was praying and wishing and hoping for a Game Boy.  You rob Peter to pay Paul to get the money for the Game Boy.  You purchase one for his birthday.  The really cool and advanced one, with a free Pokemon game included.  He is in love with his new Game Boy.

“You cannot take your new Game Boy to school.  It’s against the rules, for one thing, and for another, you don’t want to risk having it stolen or lost.  Let’s keep it here and you can play with it when you get home, after you’ve done your homework.  Okay, sweetie-poo?”

Do I even need to proceed with the story?

Now, in this case, there is no punishment for me to enforce.  Apart from the fact that I am ticked that all my hard earned cash and excitement about getting him his heart’s desire is now flushed down the tubes in one bad moment, there is not much I can do.  His punishment is felt in the fact that he no longer has a cool Game Boy with a Pokemon game included.  He feels guilt, he is angry, he is upset; partly with himself, and partly with Mom, for being right.  No amount of yelling or counsel on my part will bring the toy back, I won’t even bother with “I told you so.”
He knows.
Maybe he will learn to listen to his wise old mother in the future.

Do I even need to proceed with the story?

Over the years, your child will make decisions that, on the surface, only appear to affect him, but underneath, will affect you, as well.  I know that a Game Boy is just a thing.  It can be replaced.  No one was physically harmed in the process of losing/the stealing of said Game Boy.  You know it is ridiculous to feel unappreciated for the fact that you almost had to become a street walker to buy it.  You know it is silly to expect him to understand your feelings and your disappointment.

And here’s where the click comes in.  In all of your mental anguish, one of the worst things you feel is a kind of sadness: when all the kids are playing and challenging each other with their Game Boy’s after soccer practice, and your kid is sitting there with nothing.
His dumb decision brought this about.  Nothing you can do about it.
You had tried to prevent it.  You thought you had done a pretty decent job in raising your child to listen and make informed decisions.

I suppose that this is one of the many double-edged scenarios of parenting for which no one prepares you, and about which you should be secretly delighted, as this is where important life lessons are learned.
So, there’s the first chapter of the book:  Preparing Yourself for Mental Mayhem and the Torture of Watching your Child Learn his Life Lessons.

The ensuing four chapters will address your concerns and keen observations:

Chapter 2. I Don’t Think He Learned his Lesson.
Chapter 3. I Still Don’t Think He Learned his Lesson.
Chapter 4. I Think I’m Going Crazy Here, but Has He Not Learned his Lesson?
Chapter 5. I’m Going to Lock him In his Room for 15 years.

The years travel by, and you realize that you are stuck in the first five chapters of the book, with no apparent hope of progressing to the Last Chapter, which is, of course, entitled “He’s Got his Own Kid, Maybe Now He’ll Get It.”

You will find yourself questioning your sanity, your ability to be a Mother, whether you might have been very bad in your past life, and the existence of God.  What you mostly will question is the mental state of your child, and whether it is in jeopardy, or if he is just doing normal kid things.

“Is it normal for a kid to paint the refrigerator black with shoe polish?”
“Is it normal for a kid to eat the entire chunk of mozzarella cheese upon which I posted a note reading ‘DO NOT EAT OR I WILL KILL YOU’?”
“Is it normal for a kid to bring his mouse to school in his lunchbag?”

Normal or not, many of these experiences will require a punishment of some sort.  Most “punishments” require no guilt or remorse on the parenting side.  He painted the refrigerator, now he can use a toothbrush and un-paint it.  And he can forget about allowance, too, since you’ll be using that money to buy various products in an attempt to make your refrigerator look normal again.

Fast forward 3 weeks later, when your refrigerator is still light black with a patchy undercoat of Brushed Almond, your bank account is $112 lighter due to failed attempts at fridge refinishing, and, what do you know, it’s time for the Annual School Function.  You know, the school function for which your child is supposed to save part of his allowance, in order to pay for tickets, games, pony rides, pizza parties, hookers, or whatever else is associated with said Annual Function.  Guess who has had no allowance (for 3 weeks- never mind that the rest of it went who knows where) to save?  Guess whose fault that is?

If you guessed ‘the kid’s’, you’re wrong again, my friend.

Let the Mental Games commence!  Which parent will you choose to be?

Ultra Strict parent says:  No Go.  He didn’t hold up his end of the bargain because he saved no money to contribute, too bad.

Somewhat Strict parent says:  I will make him do extra chores to work for some money to earn to contribute, and it will only be enough to do 1 or 2 associated activities. And also, no video games for a week. And no complaining.

Not Strict at all parent says:  Here’s the money, have a great time, Johnny!  Loveyalots!

I fall into the second category, for the most part.  I won’t go into the fact that his completed chores are not even close to white glove standard.  Or the fact that he did complain a little about cleaning the toilet with a rag and not the toilet brush.

I will, however, go to the part where, on the Annual Function Day, you know he has to choose between pizza and pony rides.  Or the part where his friends got their photos taken with Slappy the Monkey-Clown and he couldn’t.  Or how he couldn’t afford to buy a carnation for his One and Only because he spent it on a Sno Cone for himself.  Even though this is all his doing, you feel like crap.

If only he had thought to save some of his money beforehand, when you were constantly reminding him and pointing at the big Annual School Function flyer on the Originally Brushed Almond fridge!  And why did he paint the damn fridge black in the first place?  Why do kids do such dumb things?

When you’re the kid, the main thing you’re thinking is that Some Day, your mother will Pay!  You think your mother is evil, you think that she sits at home and writes in her diary about how successful her plans to thwart your happiness in life have played out.  She’ll Pay, when you become a homeless man eating garbage from a dumpster!

When you grow up, and become a parent yourself, you realize that she probably argued about the issue with herself and others, for hours.  Maybe she even tried to defend you.  She probably wanted to secretly hand you some extra money (and maybe she had, on prior occasions, which you forgot about at the time due to lack of Monkey-Clown photos).  Maybe she considered herself a failure as a parent- for not being strict enough, or not being there enough, or not being understanding enough.  Maybe it really did hurt her more to see you suffer as a kid, even when your “suffering” was a result of your dumb decisions.

Unfortunately, these epiphanies will take years to discover.

If you are a Mother, you can take consolation in the fact that there will be other, far more dramatic occasions to replace the Game Boy Fridge Incident.  For the most part, children are pretty resilient, and, provided that you constantly remind them with speeches and news articles of children who have no shoes or food let alone Game Boys/$250 sneakers/Ferraris, you should survive the first 25 years of Motherhood with at least half of your sanity intact.

I highly suggest that, during those formative years, you befriend some Ultra Strict (rare species) and Not Strict at all (the most prevalent) parents, and perhaps try some of their tactics.  Take up a hobby in your spare time, such as horseback riding, or drinking vodka, for example.  Cut yourself some slack, and remember that you’re trying your best to make your child into a responsible person with good decision making skills.

When you’ve reached the Last Chapter, and he calls you to ask if it’s normal for a child to paint a refrigerator orange, refer him to this page (which will, by then, be part of a Pulitzer Prize winning collection of Short Stories by Madwoman Catherine), and offer him your coupon for 10% Off the Purchase of Paint Removal Supplies.

I’m Not a Sappy Mom

I’m going to tell you now, that I am not one of those sappy Mothers who goes on and on about her child/children and how she can’t bear to be without him/her/them.  My conversations were and are never filled with story after story about my son, his daily activities, etc.

I remember once, a long time ago, a fellow new Mother was telling me of how she and her husband had gone out for a date night, with the promise of reconnecting and being a couple, and somehow, the conversation always turned back to their angelic child.  She further mentioned that she missed her child and couldn’t wait to get home, she adored her so much and isn’t that sweet?

Good Lord.  You’re telling me you can’t spend three hours away from a kid who has been attached to your body in one way or another for the past year, and will still be attached, pretty much, until the day you die?  Please.

Now, I know that I’m going to come across as cold and unfeeling towards my darling boy, but I tend to define it as being “realistic” and “honest with myself” in regard to the whole Motherhood thing.

My first real moment of “honesty” came in the hospital, as I was preparing for the birthing experience, yet not in full labor; thus, I was able to surf through some of the channels on the hospital television in relative comfort.

One of the channels was a hospital sponsored channel, and showed streaming video on how to care for your newborn, how to breastfeed, changes in your body, etc.  The episode, at the time, was on breastfeeding, and the first glimpse upon switching to this channel, was of a gargantuan nipple.

I didn’t even know what it was, at first.

“What the HELL is that?!” I thought to myself, with a look of shock and utter dismay on my not-yet-a-doting-mother face.

As the program continued, with more gargantuan breasts (you’d think this would be a possible checkmark in the “woo” column for me, I’ve always wanted slightly bigger boobs), and newborn babies, and breast pumps, I found myself increasingly turned off and grossed out by the entire process.

I decided, rather immediately, that there was no way in hell I was going to breastfeed.  I had previously entertained the thought that I would (and should) breastfeed, along with using no epidural for labor, and using cloth diapers to save the environment.  Yes, it’s good for your baby, it supposedly promotes bonding, and is the totally natural and lovely thing to do.

To bolster the reasons behind my decision, let’s start with the whole colostrum thing.  For Pete’s sake, can’t they come up with better words for this stuff?  The word itself sounds gross.

“Your breasts produce colostrum beginning during pregnancy and continuing through the early days of breastfeeding. This special milk is yellow to orange in color and thick and sticky. It is low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep your baby healthy. Colostrum is extremely easy to digest, and is therefore the perfect first food for your baby. It is low in volume (measurable in teaspoons rather than ounces), but high in concentrated nutrition for the newborn. Colostrum has a laxative effect on the baby, helping him pass his early stools, which aids in the excretion of excess bilirubin and helps prevent jaundice. “   (taken from http://www.llli.org/faq/colostrum.html )

That’s lovely and all, but I can’t get past the yellow to orange, thick and sticky part.  Just.  Ew.

Let me clarify, though.  Ew, for me.  I have great respect for Mothers who breastfeed, it is completely natural and womanly (that’s what they’re intended for, sorry, Men), and takes time and real dedication during your baby‘s growth process.

Apart from the fact that I had become completely grossed out by the procedure, it was the “dedication” part that kind of stiffened my spine.  I completely didn’t go for the whole “studies show that children who weren’t breast fed turned out to be mass murderers because they didn’t bond” theory.  What I did realize, however, was that I wanted to have some semblance of my own body back, after childbirth.  I said once, privately, to someone “Listen, this kid has been with me for 40 weeks.  I’ve kept healthy, stopped drinking coffee, stopped smoking, had to give up ice cream.  I think I’ve done enough for now.”

And, that was it.  There goes my nomination for “Mother of the Year.”

Apart from the emotional rollercoaster I was on during my pregnancy (that is a different story, one I likely won’t tell), physically, it was a very easy one.  The no breastfeeding thing was really more about moving onto the next phase of my life, and trying to identify myself as “Catherine plus baby” rather than “Catherine, the very pregnant unwedded mother, tsk tsk.”
I didn’t want to have to continue watching my diet, worry about leaking breasts, and being completely controlled by this child who had already controlled me for 40 weeks, and would be controlling me for the rest of my life.

I know it sounds awful, but it was something that I just didn’t want to do.  I could formula feed my cherub, spend equal amounts of time cooing and worrying over him, and love him the same as any woman who chose the breastfeeding route.  And I did.  And I do.

Luckily, some of my later guilt was removed by the fact that, after Spenser was born, I was completely knocked out in the operating room, for several hours.  If I had chosen to breastfeed, I shudder to think of how that would have been accomplished when I was in a state of delirium and complaining that there was “some baby” crying in the room.  While I was still incoherent, drugged up, and snoring, his first bottle feeding was administered by my mother, with my father,  my Godparents, and almost entire family present.  I think that’s a pretty damn cool way to be welcomed into the world of gastronomic pleasures.  It wasn’t the perfect and natural way, but it was the Catherine plus un-named (because she’s still mostly unconscious) Baby way, and I’m okay with that.

Anyway, enough about breastfeeding and my dawning hours of Motherhood.  I realize that I kind of digressed from the whole “I’m not a sappy Mom” subject, but I guess I had more to say about my first “honest” Motherhood moment than I originally planned.  Have no fear, there is more honesty to come.  18 more years worth, to be precise.

As for my original plans pre-childbirth, I will tell you: I refused the epidural until I had no choice due to the impending C-Section, and I only lasted for a few months with the cloth diapers before I gave them up almost entirely for the Earth destroying kind.  BUT.  At least I never heated his formula in the microwave.  And, for your information, Spenser hasn’t murdered anyone.  Yet.

Motherhood and Birthdays..

Well, I had planned on waiting until Mid-May to post on the whole “Motherhood” topic, but, since it’s my birthday today, and I’m feeling a little pensive, this is what we’re starting with.

It’s interesting, how, after you become a mother, birthdays take on a newer significance.  Before Spenser was born, apart from my own, birthdays were just birthdays.  After he was born, I started looking at them as rather “shared” days… that is, between Mother and Child.  The thing is, the word here is “birth”day, and, while the child is welcomed into the world with great gusto, his first day was brought about because of the Mother and all of her efforts.  She gets congratulated on that one day, and that’s about it.

I am guessing that every Mother, on her child’s birthday, thinks back to that original day, when her little one was brought forth into the world.  She thinks about her pregnancy, her labor and delivery, and how the days/months/years have passed since that original day.

On my birthday, I have cause to think about this particular day in my history, and it is filled with many thoughts and wonderings, since it is a day of which I have never heard “the story.”

I happen to be adopted.

I have heard all of the stories of how my parents were initially my foster parents, of how they fought in court to be able to adopt me.  I have heard of how loved I was, how chubby I was, how my mother thought that I had a problem with my nervous system because I never cried.  I have a million stories of growing up, how my father was the first one to tell me of my adoption (the first story that I actually remember, that is), and consider myself a very blessed woman to have been  picked by the right Family.  I have often joked to others that I am the poster child for adoptions and how successful they can be.  My story is a very good one, and perhaps I’ll have to have an “On Being Adopted” theme week, as well.

It seems a little unfair that I should start this themed week with talk of my biological mother, because it is my true mother, and my true family, who deserve all of my love and affections.
While I know and have lived the story of my upbringing and my life through my family, this one person, this stranger, is the only one with whom I share a true secret.  No one can tell me this story from their perspective; in this case, on this one occasion, it’s just about Me and Her.

I don’t know much about my birth mother, as I’m sure is the case with many adopted children, particularly the ones who were adopted many years ago.  I happen to know her name, that she died in her early 40’s due to breast cancer, that she had two other daughters.  I know that she was married at one time.  I believe that I was conceived while she was separated from her husband, and I’m guessing that I was a bit of an unwelcome surprise.  I have seen some pictures of her, I have met my bio-sisters/half sisters, and some cousins.  I have been told that she released me for adoption because she was too ill to take care of me, but I suspect that it was more of the “shame” factor that was present, and perhaps the illness was a more gentle way of explaining it to me.

Other than that, I know nothing of her.  I try to think of her situation and what she may have been feeling on the days and months leading up to my birth-day.  Was she embarrassed?  Confused?  Shunned by the rest of her family?  Did she have morning sickness?  Did she try to hide her pregnancy?  Was she sad the first time she felt me kick?  These are things that I never really fully thought of, prior to having a child of my own.

I will say, though, that, every year on my birthday, I think of this woman.  When I was younger, before I knew that she had already passed away, I used to imagine that she was thinking of me, too.  I imagined her out in the world somewhere, looking out from the window of her castle (ahhh, the fantasies we have…), and thinking back to that May 1st in 1968 when her now-a-mystery daughter was born.

I wondered if she was tortured by her decision, if she was regretful, if she was forgiving of herself, or if she even cared.  I imagined that she felt sadness, but hoped that she felt assured that her decision was the right one.  I would whisper prayers and thoughts to her over the years, thanking her for that decision, and assuring her that I had no bad thoughts or ill will towards her and the memory of her.  I whispered apologies for any discomforts that my arrival had brought into her life, and hugged her, in my mind, with the hopes of smoothing the wrinkles of her troubled thoughts or days.

I’m not sure if this is an odd array of thoughts, or if perhaps this is something that many adopted children ponder on their birthdays.  Perhaps this is something that all people, adopted or not, ponder upon.  If it’s not, it should be.

I’m not trying to get all Hallmark-y on you here, but, on your next birthday, consider the fact that your original one was shared with a truly singular lady.  Your birth-day may retell a touching story,  a funny one, a tragic one, or, it may not tell much of a story at all.  Regardless of whether you know your mother, or how either of you turned out, she gets shared credit for that one day. In the end, your day is not just about you, it is really about two people.  You, and Her.

Don’t forget that.

Dating Singles Over 50

So, I’ve been receiving emails lately with the nefarious subject line of “Dating Singles Over 50” in its content.

I am always curious and somewhat paranoid about Internet cookies and tracking and such, and often wonder how exactly someone has targeted me as a specific audience for a particular product, site, contest, etc.

I do understand that my email address is likely on some Master List somewhere, and all the hounds of the universe have access to it.  Thus, I am chosen by Makin$fromHomeGuy52392 as the perfect recipient for instructions on how to eNlarG my pENiIs… however, some of these emails just go too far.

This ‘Singles Over 50’ thing really sticks in my craw (there‘s a modern and young person thing to say, Catherine).  Ditto that for emails about AARP.  Sure, I may be single, but I am not 50, nor am I interested in someone over the age of 50, and, if I were over 50, I certainly wouldn‘t be admitting to it and clicking the email.  Not for a very, very, very long time, at least.  I’m barely able to admit to being over 40.

I once tried a famous on-line ‘relationship’ site (not really a dating site, I guess?),  and among my first set of “here’s what we found for you based on 1377 points of matching criteria!” matches was a man who was somewhere well over 50, looked like a Grandpa, and had a cane.  I remember scanning the profile photo and talking to myself, because the photo was one taken at a wedding;  it included a bride, a groom, and the cane man.

“Well, it can’t be a profile for the groom– who the hell would post his wedding picture on a dating site?  Can it be the grandpa guy?  Tell me it’s not the grandpa guy!  Oh my god, my perfect match is a grandpa!  I’m so old!!!”

Now, I’m going to go into a short aside regarding canes.  There are, I’m sure, plenty of men who need the assistance of a cane due to injuries, health difficulties, the need for a fashion accessory, whatever.  I am not averse to cane users, I do not abhor the idea of them, or anything like that.
There is a difference, however, between a cane-wielding 30-something guy with a bad knee due to a motorcycle accident, and Grandpa with his double hip replacement.

After the shock of my Grandpa match, I started clicking through some of my other ‘perfect’ matches.  There were other senior citizen-type characters in there as well; missing teeth, teen aged grandchildren, balding.  Not bald in the cool and sexy way, like, on purpose; but bald in the icky way, like, with tufts of hair on the sides and/or comb overs.  I almost started crying.

Eventually I discovered that the automatic age criteria for my matches was set at something like ‘ages 40-55’, which I immediately changed to ‘ages 18-23.’
I’m joking.  But I did lower the numbers by quite a bit.  It did not include the allowance for any ‘dating singles over 50.’

In the end, I know for a fact that I will not be dating anyone over the age of 50 until I am at least 50, myself.  Even then, it might be a stretch.  It frightens me to think that I may still be ‘dating’ at the age of 50, but I am choosing to put that thought on the back burner.  Dating in your 40’s is not exactly the happiest thought, but I have become accustomed to the idea, regardless of my feelings towards that odious benchmark, and others to come.

I don’t care if 40 is the new 20 or if 50 is the new 30.  That’s for the people who are settled in their lives and have found great peace and joy in their accomplishments.  And the people who have a lot of money to have surgical feats performed on their bodies. And the people who are in their 30’s and sadly attempting to make themselves/their over 40 friends feel better.

It generally doesn’t work for a person who, at this moment, looks like Medusa on crack, is wearing Scottie Dog pajamas, and sporting an age-defying olive and mud mask on her face whilst drinking coffee.

Overall, though, I clean up pretty nicely, and am happy with my current looks, sans Medusa hair and mud mask, of course.  And, while I am none too pleased with admitting to being over 40, and soon will be one year closer to that other number, there is no way in Hell I will be dating a guy who looks like a Grandpa.

Check back with me in twenty years.  Until then, I’M DELETING YOUR EMAILS.

p.s.    http://signifyingno-thing.blogspot.com/2009/08/sticks-in-my-craw.html   Funny.