In the middle of the night when I wake to pee (I have not slept through the night for 16 years since I gave birth to my first child) and check the mirror, I see my mother. My mother’s been dead for over two years so it takes me a second to realize it’s my reflection. This similarity between the woman she was and the woman I am is happening now because I have embraced middle age and stopped dying my hair.
But… occasionally, someone says something that rattles my middle-aged cage. Such as this #Kinderquote:
Child —who was in my class last year and hasn’t seen me since— says with horror: “Mrs. Bwaun. Youw gway!”
Me: “Yes. I’m gray. I’m glad you’ve noticed.”
I could have exclaimed through tears, “Yeah! So? You’ll get gray hair some day! Your time will come!” or “What’s so bad about looking like a dandelion gone to seed?” or “I don’t dye my hair anymore because I don’t want brain cancer!” I could have guided her to emphasize her “r” sound, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I could have asked her to spell name for the color of my hair. But I blew it.
I leaned closer and whispered, “I hear you ride a bike now.” This made her expose her toothless grin. Later I checked Grammarly to be sure of the spelling of gray (grey) because should know. Did I used to know how to spell this? Have I forgotten? Why have I forgotten? What’s wrong with me?
My second child just turned fifteen a few days ago and based on age, his job is to rattle my cage. Recently, as I nursed a cup of coffee, caffeinating myself with the needed amount to handle a full day with five and six-year-olds my son sat nearby with his own cup, caffeinating to handle high school. I studied how his head has changed shape since he was in kindergarten. I marveled at how tall he had become.
He met my eyes and asked, “Tired?”
Me: “Yes. Trying to gear up.”
He said (#ninthgradequote): “You know mom, you’re almost fifty. Every year you get older and every year, your students stay the same age.” I rubbed my hand across my graying (greying) hair, grumbled about how smart he had become, chugged my remaining coffee, and left the room for a refill. Then I checked my calendar to see when I had scheduled my next massage.
It’s stressful to turn fifty (one month from yesterday it will happen.) It’s stressful to work full-time while actively searching for an agent to publish my book. It’s stressful to mother teenagers. It’s stressful to go through menopause. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me...
“Oh my God, sweetie. You’re are holding a lot of stress in your neck,” my massage therapist Jammie said the second she touched me. By the way, she is AMAZING. And if you ever want deep tissue work in her treehouse (or in your house local folks) see the above link to her Tree Top Massage Facebook page.
She is my therapist. She knows (practically) everything about me —from how I feel about the president to what I’m cooking for dinner to what I am going to be when I grow up. This morning during my massage, I shared with her that I thought I could be dying because after I had a sharp pain in my head three weeks ago, I have experienced pain in my neck, and numbness in my left arm and hand, and headaches.
“You’re not dying, sweetie. You’re fine. You’re just stressed.”
As she pushed on points that I didn’t even know existed, I could feel the pressure release. I rattled on about various aspects of my life. She listened. She commented. She rubbed.
My sister once told me a great bit of advice. It can apply this situation when I am worrying about my health: “If the pounding of hooves can be heard outside and you don’t know what it is, more than likely it’s a HORSE rather than a ZEBRA.”
So to date, my massage therapist, my doctor, the school nurse, my acupuncturist, various friends, and my husband have all assured me I “probably haven’t had an aneurysm,” and “more than likely not dying.”
How can I not be? I have so much left to do! What if I can’t manage to accomplish all the things on my bucket list? What if I misplace my bucket list?
- Hike the entire Long trail with my kids before they move on (they don’t have the same item on their lists but it’s worth a shot)
- Watch my kids have kids
- Be strong enough to pick them up (my kid’s kids… not my kids)
- See the Great Wall of China and put some of my dad’s ashes there
- Publish at least one book… do I have time for more than that? This one has taken over two decades so far… a kid’s book, another work of fiction, some non-fiction...
- Be proud of each and every one of every evolving hair on my head that I am probably causing by putting too much on my bucket list.
During my massage I figured out why I am really stressed. Because after I checked the internet about my symptoms, my headaches worsened. WebMd is not a good idea late at night when I cannot sleep.
Massages are a good idea. Hot baths. A glass of wine here or there can be good too. Hot tea… writing. Yes. Writing. I already feel better after admitting in this blog about how ridiculous I can be.
Speaking of writing, I need to begin on that that memoir... draft… revise. I do need to process what my life really has been about. I even have a working title: “Girl Grows Up: From Mennonite to Menopause”
Oh, phew. According to what I’ve read, hormone changes cause headaches. Maybe I’m not dying after all. Maybe I’m just stressed. Maybe I need another massage…