Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I never thought I'd feel this way about growing older

I was going to grow old gracefully.  I pictured myself looking younger than my years, dispensing sage advice, and in general making the whole process look (not to mention feel) painless.  That's how I pictured it anyway.  Enter reality.  While I still feel I look okay 'for my age', there really is no way to stop time and the havoc that hormones and gravity wreak on a person.
 Good genes aside, it happens sooner or later; we get wrinkles and we sag in places we never even knew could sag and sprout fat spots in areas that truly do not need extra insulation.  Not to mention the fact that all moisture is sucked completely out of one's body creating not only saggy, but also dry and scaly skin to cover every inch of the epidermis and beyond.  In this regard, we can't lie to ourselves that age is just a number.  It is not. It is so much more than that.

Another more painful than I expected result of growing older is that people not only don't need or want our sage advice, they take every opportunity they can to point out how old fashioned our parenting, values and life skills are.  And to think, when I gave birth to my children my contemporaries and I thought the way we were doing things was all modern and stuff.  Come to find out we did the whole thing all wrong.  Everything from forward facing car seats to drop side cribs to ending breastfeeding at year.  It was all old-school information we were basing our choices on.  The horrors!

Another thing that rankles me a bit about growing older is the lack of respect for life experience that is shown to 'us old folks'.  Sadly our society does not value experience like it does youth.  Everything that is new must be better than the old, right?  In all ways newer is always better.  This goes for looks as well as ideas.  This phenomenon is what pushes us to mutilate our bodies to try and reverse the irreversible, natural process of aging.  It also drives those of us with more years on the planet to keep our opinions to ourselves and accept that it is our time to fade into the woodwork as the younger generation blazes a trail forward.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with progress.  I enjoy progress and if I do say so myself, have kept up with the times in terms of technology, pop culture, politics, fashion, etc.  What I am saying is I didn't expect, nor do I fully understand, the attitude that this generation sprung from their own loins.  I get the feeling they believe they have.  It seems forgotten, or at least not acknowledged, that those of us in our 40's were the trailblazers of yesteryear.  There would be no technological innovation to improve upon had someone born before 1970 not prepared the way, for instance.  Those new, cute fashion trends I see in the stores?  Same stuff we wore 20 years ago.  Those new political concepts?  Some of them aren't so new, just borrowed and tweaked a bit. As for pop culture, I guess you could say reality TV is a clear product of this generation's genius, but I don't know if that is something to brag about much.

And lest you think I sound like a bitter middle-aged woman, let me say this:  I suppose every generation is bound to feel superior to the last.  I know that my generation did the same thing.  I now take back every word of derision I said about the generation before me.  That is my only regret.  I don't regret any of the choices I made while I was young.  And I oddly enough, I don't envy those who have more, better, different information. They have their turn, just as I had mine.  I guess this is as it should be.  I just isn't what I expected, that's all.