Weekend Getaway and Getting Older by Sharon O'Donnell
My husband and I are leaving today for a few days in Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- a welcome get away from an overwhelming schedule. It's rare we do this -- really rare. During 23 years of marriage and 19, 16, and 10 year-old-sons, this is only the fourth time we have gotten away by ourselves: our 10 year anniversary, which we celebrated in CA and a few weekends at the NC and SC coasts. And that's it. I'm now finished with the obligatory lists of things to do for my sons, and am headed to the airport. Yet, hitting the beach doesn't have that same appeal as it did to me when I was younger. Too many worries now about wrinkles and age spots. I usually sit by the pool with a towel over my head. Attractive, I'm sure.
Being a woman over 45 is tough, no doubt about it. Even more so when that woman is an older mom. It has gotten to the point that there are way too many things to do to myself at nighttime before going to bed – lotions, moisturizers, ointments, vitamins and such. Moms are so tired at night that there is no way they can take care of themselves the way they should; and, the older the mom, the more there is to take care of. It’s gotten to the point that I put off going to bed because I don’t feel like going through it all. And I haven’t even mentioned osteoporosis or pelvic floor problems – more things to look forward to. Or the M-word with hot flashes and new chemical imbalances.
Yes, when a woman reaches a certain age, she will notice inexplicable things about her body and face that change literally overnight. She will be trying on clothes in one of those dressing rooms with mirrors on all the walls providing kind of a 3-D experience and will start hyperventilating when she catches a glimpse of her knees which suddenly seem to have no shape to them at all. What happened to the dang kneecap? It seems to have turned into fold after fold of nothing but skin. She never thought she’d worry about her knees. But you don’t really appreciate them until they’re gone.
Which pretty much is life’s lesson about everything. It’s annoying to think about all the problems women have with aging and all the commercials on TV about all the things we need to fix them, while the main product targeted to aging men is for Viva Viagra. We endure the periods, we go through pregnancy and labor, and raising the kids and then just as there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, we physically fall apart, while the men just keep revving their engines. I recall the day when I was 47 when my doctor informed me in a bit too cheerful of a voice, “Your uterus has dropped and is pressing on your bladder.” Uhmm . . . yeah, I could have told you that. I’ve been feeling like my insides are about to fall out for the past five years. “It’s those three boys you had,” she laughed. She then told me if it gets too bad, then I can have surgery. But what is considered ‘too bad”? I don’t want to have surgery if I don’t need to; I had back surgery several years ago and don’t want to have anything else unless it’s absolutely necessary. A lot of women feel the same way, and so there are a lot of us out there putting up with uncomfortable stuff like dropped uteruses. Or is that uteri? Anyway, some mind-boggling things happen to a woman’s ‘innards’ when she gets to be a certain age, especially if she’s had kids.
The constant bombardment of anti-aging products targeted to women is overwhelming and annoying; there is no way women should have to do this much stuff to themselves as they get older. With commercials and infomercials, advertisers pitch such products to us poor women 24 hours a day. I can’t turn on the TV without one of them coming on. Leave us the hell alone! We can’t possibly find the time or money to fix all the stuff the TV spokespeople say is wrong with us. We have lives, people! Not only are we seduced by ads for smoother skin and weight loss, now there are commercials for products that make our eyelashes grow longer. Are you kidding me? Why are women made to feel that every single part of their bodies have to be perfect?
Yet, I must admit – those infomercials for miracle skin products have a certain appeal. I’m extremely skeptical at the start of these infomercials, but if I don’t turn the station fast enough, their outlandish claims and their celebrity spokespeople draw me right in, almost like they’re hypnotizing me. The more I listen, the easier it is to believe that -- yes -- the secret to erasing wrinkles really could be the juice of a rare melon discovered in a southern region of France.
Until then, I'll be the woman by the pool with the towel over her head.