On Lullabies and Living
I don’t like getting older, the older I get.
Far from it. I used to wax philosophical about gravity’s pull is wisdom gained. Not anymore, seeing as I don’t know how much lower my eyelids can go. However, I do admire those who have embraced the aging process with vigor and glee despite whatever may ail them.
For me, I like being able to see an object clearly, without holding it 7 feet away from my face. I don’t enjoy finding tiny brownish spots freckling my skin that were not there when I went to sleep. And I certainly don’t enjoy the many biopsies that require needles, a hole punch, and a “don’t call us, we’ll call you”/wait and see kind of thing.
Thinning hair, lack of proper sleep, walking into a room and not knowing why you walked in there to begin with, the slow widening of your entire length: these are the things age brings.
I know, I know. I am only 46 . . . just wait. Ugh.
It occurred to me the other day, out of nowhere, (because I was probably wondering why I walked in to the laundry room in the first place) that the nursery rhymes we were seduced by as kids are possibly gentle warnings of our future fate.
I’m not talking about the truly macabre ones like Ring Around the Rosey that speaks of death and the plague. Or the lady who beat her kids because she lived in a shoe and didn’t know what else to do.
I’m talking about the ones with the little hidden messages about how we will one day be an older, worn down, and yes, crankier version of our youthful selves.
The little pigs who refused the let the wolf in and not “by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin” were clearly on to something. Who knew when you got old enough to buy your own home and invest heavily in a sectional sofa, your chin would start sprouting stubborn hairs like a Buy One Get One Free Chia Pet at the Dollar Tree?
Yes, it sometimes rains and it sometimes pours. But it is inevitable that if you live long enough you will end up lying next to an old man who snores . . . or vice versa. My husband says the house slightly shakes and the curtains sway as soon as I fall asleep. Sure, but he’s got me beat. I will give you one piece of advice. If you ever go on vacation and share an Airbnb with friends and family, bring a CPAP machine, even if you don’t need one. This will 100% guarantee you will not have to share a room. What is a CPAP, you might be wondering? Well, I can tell you because a sleep next to one every night. It’s like something one may find in the Intensive Care Unit with huge tubes and a giant mask protruding from a black box with all sorts of menacing buttons all over it. This is all suctioned to my husband’s face every night. He no longer snores, sure. But he now emits a sound I can only describe as Darth Vader hopped up on Adderall and five cups of Colombian coffee, special robust blend. It’s our own little shop of horrors, y’all.
And don’t get me started on “Jack Be Nimble.” Sure, it’s fun, as a kid, to jump over stuff. As an older adult, it’s not fun that a 6-inch candlestick is the only thing you can jump up over without ending up in Urgent Care, no matter how many times you psyched yourself up about how quick and nimble you still are.
Oh well, like Mayflies in May, 110-degree heat in August, snoring spouses and pouring rain, there’s not a whole heck of a lot we can do about any of it anyway.
My girls are young women now, 15 and 17. Time has run out for reciting nursey rhymes to soothe them to sleep. They will be grown and flown before I know it, so I do my best attempting to instill a few life lessons on the way.
Whenever they fret about something that seems so overwhelming I ask them one, simple question.
Will you remember this in 5 years?
The answer (with an eye roll) is always a probably not.
Then don’t worry about it for more than 5 minutes, I remind them.
So, in the spirit of all the young people out there embarking on their new journey into the aging unknown and all the many wonders of our world, note to self:
Your five minutes are up.