This morning I was wrenched abruptly out of a deep sleep by my wretched cell-phone alarm, just in time to drive my 16-year-old daughter to school. She was awake when I went to bed and awake when I woke up. How does she do this? She’s in the prime sleeping years of her life! I slogged up the stairs, puffy-eyed, in my blue cotton striped pajama bottoms, bra-less (TMI alert!) with my favorite lavender v-neck tee-shirt (mismatched, shapeless, but so comfortable and practical until the car breaks down by the side of the road on the way to school, and the odds are with me on this happening). Over this, I threw on a long grey sweater I picked up in a consignment shop, my trusty green puffy coat and some beat-up brown leather clogs. My look was complete for driving my princess to school! Or rather, her driving me, because she’s practicing for her driver’s license test, as she reminded me for the 855th time as she took the wheel. I spill less coffee on myself when she drives, which is the only really helpful thing about her being the driver, although the brown coffee stains do bring a certain panache to my ensemble, what with the brown clogs and all.
I gazed at her youthful loveliness from my vantage point in the passenger seat and admired her tall, trim, athletic frame, beautiful features and well-rested appearance despite her seeming sleep deficit. “My vantage point” includes the ridiculous outfit described above, and upon later inspection in the rearview mirror on the ride home, encompasses a host of other alarming components. My hair has reached its 3 month critical breaking point for greyness. I’m a week out from my grey-covering cut and foil (an aptly descriptive word). The grey hairs coming in are shockingly different from my “normal hair”. They are wiry and curly and some of them stick straight up. What will become of me? Am I going to have a giant, frizzy, puffy head of gray hair some day? Is this why my mother seems to think that older women should have short hair? If I do cut it short will it look like someone stuck a brillo pad on my head? On top of that, my eyebrow maintenance is lacking because SOMEONE stole my tweezers, so yeah, there’s eyebrow stubble. Eyebrow stubble, but no chin stubble, thankfully.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, there’s a little thing people tell the newly sober. Just add the word “yet!” to the end of every optimistically naïve statement you make about your drinking history. For example, “But I’ve never had a DUI (yet!)!” “But I haven’t lost my marriage (yet!)!”, “I haven’t ended up in jail (yet!)”!. “I don’t have cirrhosis (yet!)!”, etcetera. I rather feel this way about getting older. “I don’t have any chin hair (yet!)!”. “I’ve never had a hot flash (yet!).” I think you get the idea.
In truth, I love being 46, and perhaps misguidedly, I feel that at 50 I will be even younger than I am now. Maybe it has something to do with being smack dab in the middle of parenting teenagers. Those awkward, humbling glimpses of myself in the rear-view mirror send me into an inner Bombeckian quoting frenzy and seem to come a little more frequently these days.