When I start to feel old, I like to remind myself that I can’t even be elected president yet. I am definitely not old. I am not even to the age of real power yet, let alone past it and dwindling into the crickets of the forgotten.
But as a woman. As a mother, living the majority of my life in our home with the constant attention of an 18 month old and no one else, I feel old.
As a woman who has given birth to a child, my body feels creaky. It feels large. It feels loose. Not the vaginal looseness the uninformed warned me about, but a looseness of skin and looseness of joints that I had little warning of. I knew my breasts would sag after months of breast feeding, but I did not expect the sagging arms and legs. It is like my skin is falling off my bones. How can I not feel old?
As a person who has completed 2 marathons, I feel old. I remember the excited I used to feel before every long run. The dread. The taste in my mouth. The desire for motion. I remember my toenails growing in, threatening to fall off. I remember the sore muscles. I remember the exhaustion. I remember not caring about any of it. Now, running feels like a chore. My body feels heavy. Sluggish. Unused. Purposeless. Old.
As a person, I am not old. But I am definitely not a girl anymore. A teenage girl, a girl in her early twenties, a girl who is not taken, a girl who is not settled- they have this magic mystery taste to them. I feel bland, and that makes me feel old.
The other day I went with my friend to get a hair cut. She got an asymmetrical wedge, very short. It looks great with her black and blue hair. I wanted that haircut. Well, not THAT exact haircut, but a haircut. Something drastic and new. But it didn’t feel right. I felt too old for short hair. Too old for radical hair. Too settled in my dreads.
Of course, I am not old. Of course, I believe that anyone, of any age, can wear whatever hairstyle they please. Whatever hairstyle makes them feel good. And there’s the problem. I don’t feel good. I feel old.
I wonder, how do mothers reconnect with that playful, joyous girl that they once were? How do you feel young again once you have that much responsibility? I see my friends with children. Some of them look like they play and have fun. Does it naturally return after the children grow up and some of the responsibility is taken away? Do you have to actively seek it out? Is it even possible? Because right now, to feel young and beautiful and free seems like the most absurd wish in the world.