Confessions of a middle aged woman

I’ve been looking in the mirror lately. A lot. My 48th birthday is around the corner and I have been somewhat stunned to visit what that truly looks like. I used to demand strangers guess how old I am. Now, I just growl when the grocery store clerk says “Paper or Plastic, Ma’am.” My mind and body are changing rapidly, mostly for good, but some, not so good. Thankfully, I can find humor in most anything. It’s amazing how time sneaks up on you while you’re sleeping, grabs your facial skin and shakes it loose from your skull. When I bend over to pick something up off the floor, my facial skin completely detaches from my head. I almost have to tie it back with a pony tail holder. When did this happen? When did I begin to grow old?
Well, I guess it is true that none of us will leave this world alive, but I would like to be somewhat recognizable. I can just hear my girlfriends now as they stare at my lifeless body in the casket. “She used to be so cute. She looked so tired in the end. Her poor husband.” This is why I have left specific instructions in my will to be placed in the casket upside down so at least my shoes will look fabulous. I really haven’t done that, but it’s not a bad idea. Nevertheless, I began to write down some of the more noticeable changes that have occurred on this work of art that is my body.
I have always considered myself attractive. I’m not being vein, just honest. I was cute. Mixed kids naturally are pretty and I modeled from childhood through my college years. By college, I was 5’8”, 112 lbs. with glorious, firm boobs. Years later, cute got me a cute husband. Cute also got me pregnant; 3 times. Standing in the mirror, 112 lbs. is now a distant memory and those perky boobs are now two different sizes, shaped like the balloons clowns use to make dachshund puppy bodies, filled with pancake batter. I tell people by bra size is a 36 Long. Oh, I forgot to mention that my hawk vision has been reduced to that of a bat.
Monday morning, I had an appointment with, how would you say, a physique improvement specialist. Okay, a plastic surgeon. I wanted to treat myself to a birthday present, so I went to have a chat to see what was available to me. I felt like walking in and just laying down on the floor and yelling for help. Fortunately, this particular surgeon is an acquaintance of mine (our daughters are friends) so I trust her opinion. We decided to start with something small that would still make an impact. The first stop, my face. I began to tell the surgeon that I had these lines on the sides of my mouth that were becoming more prevalent. What she said next was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. “Oh, marionette lines”. What? She might as well have said ugly monster witch lady lines. Who wants to have a face that resembles a creepy marionette? Get out the needle, lady and do your thing. I was told that one vial of some stuff will obliterate those lines. I was ready. At that point, I didn’t care if it was acid (which I later found out it was).
Okay, let’s begin. First needle stick. I start to feel a little warm, then molten hot lava warm. I begin to yell “get it out get it out get it out”. Next was “I’m going to throw up. There’s no sink in here and I’m going to throw up”. Then, it was “I can’t feel my hands. I’m numb from the elbow down”. Finally, “I’m goin’ down!” Poor doctor had to lay me flat, cover me in ice packs, give me one of those kidney shaped thrower upper thingies and hold my legs up in the air. I was hyperventilating and nearly fainted. I also threw in a hot flash for good measure.
Upon regaining my composure and some of my dignity, I was able to get through the procedure, which took an excruciatingly whole 45 seconds. The results were immediate; the lines disappeared. However, my plan had been to discuss my blog with the good doctor in order to suggest I be used to demonstrate some of her procedures to potential clients. In turn, I would blog about the wonderful experience. Somehow, I didn’t think that was an appropriate way to end this visit. “Gee Doc, let me sweat, hyperventilate, puke and then pass out to show how painless and easy your procedures are”.
At any rate, I feel much better. It was definitely worth it. I won’t be such a wimp next time. It is also important to note that until I told him, my husband never even noticed the difference. He then proceeded to tell me that I didn’t need to erase those lines for him. His old age is clearly taken a toll on his sanity.

You think you know, but you have no idea

I was on a flight not too long ago that connected through Newark. For late evening flights, I always book a window seat so I can turn away, cover my head and have some quiet. Coming down the aisle, I spot the 4 year old and his mother. Of course, they settle in next to me. This little one was immediately interested in me. Mother tells him to leave the nice lady alone, but he has other plans. About 30 minutes in to the flight, I have a little boy on my lap watching Nick Jr. while his mother sleeps. Turns out, they were on their way home from her mother’s funeral and she was overcome with emotion and exhaustion, a horrible combination. Her gratitude was almost embarrassing.
The moral of this story? Don’t be an asshole.
I have no data to back this up, but I’m going to put this out there and suggest that 99% of people traveling with children are not doing so because they enjoy it. I’m guessing it’s out of necessity. I also have news for you. Even if you are on a flight to Orlando, those parents aren’t happy either. They just want to get from point A to B in one piece without too much collateral damage. If you have children, had children or have parents, then you should get this. Kids are like Murphy’s Law; if something can go wrong, it usually does. As an innocent bystander, you can roll your eyes or try to help.
For those of you getting to know me, you have probably determined that I have a pretty good sense of humor. It has been sharpened over the last 14 years since becoming a mom. It just doesn’t pay to be tense. You learn to move through the world at a different pace, seeing things differently, deciphering what is truly important. Unless you move to Mars (and I cannot prove or deny there are no Martian children), expect to deal with adolescents. Some of you need to remember this when you act “put out” by the presence of a youngster. You were probably no picnic for your parents either. I might also add that after the past 17 days of babyish behavior on behalf of our government, I would welcome a conversation with a kid any day. At least it’s truthful.
My youngest child is autistic. By far, he has been the best teacher of priorities, life, love and happiness. Because of him, I don’t take shit from anybody. I have become a fierce protector of those who cannot protect themselves. When we board a flight, I make an announcement to fellow passengers. “This is my son. He is autistic. He loves to talk and meet new friends. If he greets you, say hello. If he asks you where you’re going, tell him. Don’t treat him like he’s not there. I will do the best I can to keep him seated, but sometimes he just needs to stretch his arms and legs. Thanks for understanding”. It really sucks that I have to announce this, but it seems to put people at ease. I’m not looking for sympathy, just a chance not to have to curse someone out for being a jerk to a little boy.
You may see a mom in the grocery store with one or more screaming children. Do you really think she wants to be there? She doesn’t need your condescending smirk as you pass. How about a pat on the shoulder and a “been there, done that”. You may see parents out to dinner, struggling with a new infant and trying to enjoy a meal. Send them a dessert instead of a glare. This shit ain’t easy. When you’re at a pool and get splashed by some sprogs, remember, you’re at a pool. You’re supposed to get wet. Don’t be a wanker.
You think you know, but you have no idea. There are parents you see every day who are silently challenged with special needs kids and regular old kids. Imagine a job that NEVER ends. Imagine a responsibility that never lessens, only increases and never allows you to slack. Let me tell you, the vast majority of parents are freakin’ awesome. We are all trying our damnedest to raise responsible adults without losing our sanity in the process. Next time you are confronted by a 2’ dervish, get a grip on yourself. You are the bigger person. Act like one.


Growing up, I remember pulling that spiral phone cord till it looked like uncooked spaghetti, to get to the farthest corner of the kitchen floor where I could sit down and talk. I was not allowed to have a phone in my room and certainly didn’t talk past 9pm. I also remember my mother picking up the extension and politely telling me to wrap it up; I’d been on long enough. It is hard to imagine that I long for those days, but I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I think the past 20 years have been nothing short of astounding. I encourage people to get on the World Wide Web and experience whatever their desire at the touch of a button. My concern is that while everyone is busy looking down, life is passing right by.

Last week, I got a call from an old friend who was hospitalized with an injury that almost caused the loss of a hand. It was not caused by an illness, disease or unavoidable accident. This person had been texting and fell down a flight of stairs. I suppose it shouldn’t matter how something happens because the pain is no less, but come on, that is just plain stupid.

When have we all become so important that we have to announce everything we are doing, feeling or seeing at any moment in the day? I have a news flash, we’re not. You’re not the first person to get up early, work all day, come home, cook dinner, do a load of laundry, get kids ready for bed and help with homework. People have had this routine for centuries and I guarantee definitely harder than the pain of waking up in a warm bed, going to a job that doesn’t require you risk your life, cooking with food that is safe to eat, using a washing machine and putting your kids to bed in a climate controlled environment that has electricity and hot water. Is it sinking in yet? Listen, lots of people have headaches. I don’t always need to hear about yours unless it comes with a funny hangover story. Unless you are curing cancer, put the phone down, it’s just not that imperative.

We are becoming a nation obsessed with receiving information from our hands. In the process, we are missing life. Many cannot even muster an original thought, resorting to reposts from others. Could technology be making us stupid? I see that it is responsible for social retardation. Here are a few ways I’m teaching my children to bear their own thoughts and use common sense again. Play along, if you dare.

RULE 1: No technology at the table
Last week, I was out to dinner with my family. There was a family sitting in the booth next to us. They each had a device in their hands, no one was looking up and there was absolutely no interaction between them. You have to make time to teach the art of conversation. There is nothing worse than trying to talk to a kid (or a grown ass person for that matter) who cannot put together a decent sentence or look you in the eye.

RULE 2: All technology is checked at the door when friends visit
This should be a time to talk, share stories, laugh, play music and gossip. Nothing gets my goat more than seeing bathroom mirror photos of groups of girls on Instagram from sleepovers. Parents need to get a grip on this. Stay off the damn thing when you’re at a function. Again, you’re input on a cute photo is not that vital (and it’s probably just a tweet about your friend who has a headache).

RULE 3: Put it away
I have daughters and it makes me crazy when I see them walking around with their smart phones in hand. I constantly remind them that no one likes a girl that is so readily available. Where’s the mystery? Why do you want everyone to know what you’re doing all the time? Would it kill the recipient to wait 30 minutes for a response to “What’s up?” I doubt “not much” contains the antidote. No man wants a woman who answers almost before he hits Send. What does that say about her? Your life needs to be more interesting than staring in anticipation at the palm of your hand.

RULE 4: Dial the number
Never decline or cancel an invitation/appointment via technology. It requires you to hear a live response. It requires empathy. You can’t experience that with a text. Your kids will think twice about telling Grandma & Grandpa they can’t make Sunday dinner when they have to hear Grandma’s disappointment.

RULE 5: Say no
Teach your daughters not to accept a date from a text. Teach your sons to pick up the phone and call a young lady, like a gentleman. iPhones come and go, good manners are timeless.


Can’t live with them, can’t kill them. Well, I suppose you could do either, but that’s another blog. This blog is about the crazy family members we love. As you get to know me, you will discover that I have a boatload of whack jobs in my family. Many of us do not speak, except to trade insults (which I’m always up for) but those of us who do have a great sense of humor and generous hearts. After I tell this one, I hope those involved still maintain that humorous bone.
My Aunt died. Yes, the same one that suggested to my father that he and my mother not have children. However, the irony of life is that she and my uncle were the closest of family to my mom and dad. They spent a lot of time together, taking care of me, my cousins and their kids. Even though I joke about calling my aunt The Church Lady (she could make that lemon puss face), I loved her very much and I’m pretty sure she loved me.
She died last November. She had been sick for a few weeks prior to her death, but I am happy to say that I had a nice conversation with her before she became too ill to speak. I feel good about that. So, my cousin calls me to tell me she’s passed. They will need to bring her from Maine to Saratoga for services and burial. My uncle is buried in the military cemetery there (so is my mother) and she will be laid to rest alongside him. So far, so good. Well, cousin doesn’t want to ruin anyone’s Thanksgiving plans, so it is decided that aunt will not be buried until first week of December. Okay, I can understand that. I make plans to fly to NY and meet them there. Now, you must first understand that when my most favorite cousins in the whole world descend upon you, they take no prisoners. There is my favorite first cousin, who I’ve known all my life, his wife, whom I adore and his 3 boys. These three boys are all approximately 9 feet tall, weighing 400lbs. Okay, maybe not that tall and big, but they might as well be. One is into that iron man crazy race stuff where they throw grenades at you while you run up a hill carrying a tree trunk. The middle is the quiet one who sits back and takes it all in and the baby is our first openly gay family member who believes he should be a supermodel. I admit, when they are all with me, I am happiest.
Okay, so they all roll in the evening before the service for aunt. Everyone unpacks and brings stuff in the house, grabbing food from the back of the minivan and SUV, phone chargers, beer, etc. It’s dark, so I can’t really see much of what’s happening in the driveway, but the commotion is what I have grown to expect. After they have settled in, I inquire as to where my dear departed aunt is resting the evening before her internment. In a casual tone, 1st cousin informs me that his mother, my aunt, is in the back of the minivan in the driveway. Insert Scooby Doo “huhhh?” Yes, that’s right. In my family spirit of cheap, my cousin and his sons took my aunt from the funeral home, loaded her in the back of the minivan and drove her across 4 states, which I’m pretty sure violates a few laws. Now, my sick sense of humor is beginning to rear its ugly head and I have to squash it back down as I look at my father’s face for a reaction. I’m not sure he was too happy about having his deceased sister in a minivan in the front yard. I ate a donut that was packed in there with her. Talk about a 3 second rule breach.
What if they had a flat tire en route? What if the back doors opened and the casket fell out on the highway? I’m pretty sure a hearse has some sort of refrigeration unit for extensive travel, which I’m guessing the old minivan was not equipped. What if they had been pulled over for speeding? The jokes were welling up inside me so badly that I had to go to sleep. So, the next morning, I look out my bedroom window and the minivan is gone. I assumed my cousin perhaps felt bad having my father’s sister in his driveway, so maybe he’d taken her to the cemetery. Silly me. He’d just driven her down to Stewart’s with him to get some coffee.
We arrive at Saratoga National Cemetery. I have our pastor in the car with me and my father. We are all lined up in the procession at the cemetery entrance. This is always hard for me because my mom is buried there. Today is different, because it’s kind of a circus. My baby cousin is cat walking back in forth alongside my car like we are front row at a Hugo Boss fashion show. Our pastor is confused. My other cousin is explaining to the staff why his mother has arrived in a minivan (they aren’t happy) and I’m beginning to giggle.
All’s well that ends well. My aunt was laid to rest, but not before I had our pastor throw in that I was the favorite niece. I think my aunt would concur, with her Church Lady puss face, of course.