Please Don't Let Me Be the Oldest Mom in the PTA!
Excerpts from essays:
From “The PTA Meeting”:
So there I was finally walking into a PTA meeting filled with parents who probably couldn’t even vaguely remember the Nixon administration and probably first watched The Brady Bunch in syndication, rather than the original run of the show on Friday nights on ABC. I was from another generation there amidst the cute, bubbly women in form-fitting jeans and capris with tans and no age spots. Moms with no spider veins. Moms who didn’t need to hold the meeting agenda at arm’s length to be able to read it. Moms with genuine enthusiasm for the upcoming magazine fundraiser. Before the meeting started, I hung around near the back of the room, trying not to draw attention to myself.
. . . And then I saw her across the crowded room, sitting near the stage. (Cue violin music). A kindred spirit. She was an attractive brunette, but it was obvious from some wrinkles and bit of turkey neck sag that she was at least as old as I was. Maybe – dare I say it – older?? My heart started beating fast like it did when I used to see a cute guy taller than me out at the nightclubs in college. I had to meet her.
From “Where the Hell Did That Come From?”
I remember distinctly the morning I made the alarming discovery of my first marionette lines, those dastardly little wrinkles by the sides of your mouth. It was July 15, 2007. Approximately 7:15 a.m. I went to bed without the wrinkles and woke up with them. That fateful morning I was brushing my teeth in front of the bathroom mirror when I froze, my toothbrush stopped in mid-brush, staring in horror at my face. And once more that phrase came to me: “Where the hell did that come from?” These are words that women over 45 will mutter to themselves or sometimes scream out loud throughout the rest of their lives. Ladies, have we paid our dues yet for Eve eating that apple? I should think so.
Sometimes I do fantasize about eyelifts or facelifts. Alas, the only time I’ve been able to visit a plastic surgeon was when I had to have a knot taken off the side of my arm. My plastic surgeon (those 3 words together makes me giddy!) was a nice enough guy, but I’m not sure he realized how his words came across to me. He and his nurse started talking about a micro-dermabrasion treatment that she’d had recently at a related facility nearby. Feeling like I should join in the conversation, I asked about the procedure, which led to my doctor pointing to a mole under my left eye and asking, “Is that like a beauty mark or something?” From the way he said it, I could tell he thought it was more like the ‘something’ than a beauty mark.
“Well,” I began, “people used to call it a beauty mark when it was just a dark freckle under my eye, but over the years it’s just become pretty much a mole. But the dermatologist said that it’s a good mole and has no signs of cancer. So I’ve never seriously thought about taking it off.”
Still staring at my mole, the doctor replied, “That’s the first thing I’d do to your face.” The FIRST thing??? I’d been in his office 10 minutes, and the man had a list! I didn’t dare ask what the second thing would be. I felt my self-esteem deflating and was amazed there wasn’t a gushing air sound surrounding me as all of my confidence was pulled out of me and into space—kind of like in the Space Jam movie when the aliens sucked all the talent out of the basketball stars. Since I am a mom of boys, that is the image that popped into my head.
From “I’m NOT the Grandma!”:
The store clerk took Jason’s hesitation to mean that he didn’t know the answer to the question and was looking to me for help, so the man nodded toward me and said, “If you don’t know ask your grandma.” I froze immediately as I was reaching for a pack of Mentos, and my horror-filled eyes met the clerk’s who must have sensed he’d made a mistake. “Mom?” he asked, correcting himself. But it was too late. The damage had been done.
I’d never before thought I had symptoms of acid reflux, but I felt at that moment that I just might barf. I smiled. “Yes, it’s mom, not grandma,” I replied, trying not to call attention to myself or the situation.
. . . We drove along in silence, but I was reliving the convenience store episode in my mind all the way home. The man had called me Grandma. The thing was I’d thought I’d looked pretty good that day; I had on make-up and clothes that matched and even had time to put self-tanner on my legs. As the afternoon and evening went on, I replayed in my mind what the clerk had said and actually started wondering if perhaps he really had been kidding with me as Jason had suggested. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. He was the talkative type and maybe he was having a little fun, spicing up what I’m sure was a rather boring day behind the store counter. I tried to recall the exact tone of his voice, the flicker of his eyes, to determine if he had been serious. And if he had been serious, what specifically was it about me that made him think I was Jason’s grandma? I knew I could not wonder about that moment the rest of my life. I knew I had to find out. I had to go back.
From “The Caboose Baby”
As a caboose baby myself, I can relate to this predicament. My mother was lucky enough to have some friends and relatives with children near my age, but the two of us frequently did things by ourselves together. When I was searching for a card for my mom on Mother’s Day several years ago, I found the perfect one: on the cover, it read, “From Your Youngest”. I immediately picked it out of the Hallmark card rack and read it, getting tears in my eyes. I had never seen such a card before that was from a youngest child; perhaps there is such a growing number of caboose babies now that a card like this was needed. It read in part: “Baby of the family? I was, I guess, it’s true. But I didn’t mind the slightest bit because, Mom, I had you.” When I gave it to my mother, I told her I would read it to her, which I do quite often since her eyesight is poor due to macular degeneration. But this time as I read, I got a lump in my throat, looking into her blue eyes and also knowing my youngest son, Jason, was right there listening too. I wrote inside the card, “I hope I can be the mom to Jason that you were to me when my siblings were grown up.” My mother and Jason will never know how very much I meant that. I had my mom, and now my youngest child had me. And I, in turn, still had him. It seems like some sort of circle of life, and I relish the fact that I am an older mom. I vow to savor the time I still have with him at home, as it dwindles day by day.