Sheltered Islander


The days are long, but the years are short. I hit another birthday, seems like I go through this trauma around the same time every year. I miss being young and complaining about how “fat and ugly” I was then—I’d give anything to be “fat and ugly” like that again, instead of the fat and ugly I contend with now. Still, there’s a peacefulness and wisdom that comes with age that I really enjoy having. I just stay away from mirrors so I don’t shock myself.

Here are a few benefits to aging for women:

1. You can back off on the hair dye a little. There’s a time when gray hair is conspicuous by its absence. I try to leave my temples gray now when I color the rest of my hair. Those white streaks on the side of my head gives me that Bride of Frankenstein look that helps to scare young people. Zombies are a big thing now, I even see them in commercials. The streaks make the kids wonder. [expand]

2. You have the right to buy non-stick cookware as often as you like. After 50, you have done all the cooking you had to do to qualify as a good wife and mother, and now the time have come to give away the heavy iron Le Creuset pans and get the T-Fal.

3. Along with easy-clean pots and pans, you now have the right to new dishes and paper plates. The new dishes are to the replace the dishes you have already that you are sick, sick, sick of looking at. The worst is when your mother-in-law gives you a set of dishes you don’t really like, and then you have to use them or suffer sarcasm for years to come. (I know, I had to look at a set of dishes with blue roses on them for years, until we finally moved and they got destroyed by the movers…it only cost me an extra $20 for them to put those boxes under the truck wheels). You may put the new set on display if you like and take them out only on holidays. You have earned the right to serve on paper plates. No one ever helped you with the dishes before, other than the obligatory Mother’s Day and maybe your birthday, and they’re not going to start now. So, I say, serve them on Chinet. Whoever doesn’t like it can go to the beach and forage.

4. Your children are young adults, and maybe your husband has finally become an adult too, so you now have the right to not know where the hell everybody else’s stuff is. You can say things like, “It’s wherever you left it,” and you don’t have to help them look for it. Instead, you may continue your crossword puzzle, guilt free. If they beg and cajole you, you can get in your car and drive away without having to arrange a sitter or leave a dinner for them. This whole concept of being responsible for their own possessions often comes as a shock to youth, it’s like when they first realize they have to get a job in order to have money for rent and food. It’s a huge jolt to their systems, but they catch on after five or ten years.

5. You have the right to laugh, not with your children as you had to when they were younger so that you didn’t mangle their egos, but AT your children. When they say things that you know, by virtue of your magnificent age, are pure bunk, you can look right at them and laugh until you fall off the couch. I loved it when my daughter said, “I’m going to know where my teenager is at all times. She’ll never be able to pull one over on me.”  It was almost as funny as, “I know he’s 27, but he’ll change, he just needs more time.” Laugh…laugh because if you don’t you’ll cry. To paraphrase an old adage, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry, and somebody yells, ‘Shut up!’”

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