Thursday, May 31, 2007

Time Goes By

“Time goes by so slowly…” Madonna sang to me this morning while I was running on the treadmill. Every quarter mile sprinting, I can’t agree more.

But while I walk, and pain is not shooting through my body, time seems to fly. Sprint, walk, sprint, walk… I look up and it’s time to run again but those little dots seem to be stuck in one place while I’m running.

It how I feel today about time. I have no idea where the last ten years went, let alone the last twenty. But there have been times, like before Jake learned how to sleep through the night, I thought every day was stuck on 5AM.

Today is my birthday. I’m forty-four. How did that happen?

My friend Margaret, the Martha Stewart of parenting, once shared a sweet quote with me by a woman of young children, that went something along the lines of “every day can last forever but the years pass in an instant.”

I don’t remember whom the quote is by and neither does she because…well… we’re both old and our minds are slipping.

It’s a number, and a day, not necessarily all that special. I’m not a big birthday person, unless it’s a milestone like 40. Or 50. Other than the birthday cake to please my kids, I’m just as happy to let it pass quietly. No need to draw attention to the ever-climbing number.

I made my mother promise, when I turned forty, to say I was thirty-two. If anyone asks, just say I’m thirty-two. She laughed and said age doesn’t matter to me at all. Why does it bother you?

I didn’t know then but I do now. I don’t feel like I’m forty-four. I’m shocked when I look in the mirror and see lines on my face. Or when I look down at my hands and see how weathered and aged they are. I step on the scale and have no idea how that happened and why it won’t go away, even with all the running I do.

I know it’s because I’m not thirty-two. I’m forty-four. I have three children, one of whom is going to middle school next year. I’m perimenopausal. My body has shifted into another gear- a very slow, cranky one. My mind is still full of ridiculous trivia information but I don’t remember which field which son has a baseball game at without consulting the master schedule.

Or where a great quote came from or where the email that the great quote was in ended up being filed.

To be honest, I am better than I was at thirty-two. I have deeper relationships with my friends. I’m more honest about who I am and what I believe. I was able to take an incredibly difficult stand in my marriage last year and now have a far more solid relationship. I had the strength to tear apart every piece of an old fabric grown so out of place it cut into my skin. I crumbled my very foundation and rebuilt, piece-by-piece, a stronger, more honest self that included not just the good, but also the small, frightened pieces long disowned.

It took a long time to develop that kind of confidence and strength. I could not have done that when I was thirty-two or even forty-two. I had many things handed to me on a sliver platter, but self-esteem was not one of them. It took time, like great wine, to mellow the edges and develop complexity.

Okay, I’m not mellow by any standards. I am high strung.

Neurotic, a friend said to me the other morning, is another way of putting it.

Time, as Madonna was sings, does not really go by all that slowly. My mother has been dead seven months. It feels like yesterday she was laughing at my ageism. Even when we were fighting, she faithfully called me every birthday to remind me I was thirty-two. Again. I miss the sound of her voice.

In the last year, I’ve become a much stronger woman. I’m sorry she only saw the blown apart pieces instead of the end product. I know she would have been very proud of me. Annoyed, too, but proud nonetheless.

I’ll keep running, until my joints force me to stop. I love the feeling of accomplishment, not to mention the rush of endorphins. I’ll keep pushing the edge of who I am and what I can accomplish. The more honest and open I can be about my life, the more understanding I can help people have about a lesbian living in suburbia, the further I push the world, the better off my kids will be.

Zachary came home the other day and told me they had gone through a list of famous women in his class that day.

You know what? I was the only one in my class who knew who Madonna was.

Really? I asked. No one else knew?

Nope. [My teacher] asked if my moms listened to her. I said yes. All the time.

I should be pleased his teacher, as all the teachers in the school, acknowledge- without a permission slip being signed- Zachary’s family.

The narcissist in me just feels old.

So old.

Time goes by. Just not slowly.


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