The title says it all. Reality—at least midlife reality—bites. I never saw the movie of the same name, and for the longest time I assumed it was a vampire movie. Now I know better, but I still like the phrase as a vampire metaphor, because right now it kind of feels like reality is sinking its pointy little fangs into my carotid artery and slowly sucking the life out of me.
At this stage of life, reality means not looking and feeling 29 anymore, even though in my head, I’m even younger than that.
The other day, my mother told me that when I’m wearing my glasses, I remind her of Mandy Moore as Rebecca on This Is Us. If you watch the show, you realize that the only time Mandy Moore wears glasses is when she’s playing “mature” Rebecca in current times. I did not take offense, though, because I’m fairly sure Mom meant it as a compliment, even though “present day Rebecca” is CLEARLY much older than I am right now…
But later I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, with my glasses and bedhead and blue polka dot pajamas, and I did not see Mandy Moore as either 1970s Rebecca or 2018 Rebecca looking back at me. Instead, I noticed an uncanny resemblance to Mrs. Beasley. Yes, that Mrs. Beasley — the grandmotherly doll with the pull-string that that Buffy girl used to carry around all the time on that old TV show with Sissy, Jody and Mr. French… And if you don’t know what I am talking about, well, screw you!
Sorry for that little outburst–us elderly folk are prone to that kind of thing–but if you are not familiar with Family Affair or Mrs. Beasley, you are clearly too young and beautiful to be my friend. But I’ll explain her to you anyway. She had short puffy blonde hair, black framed granny glasses, a blue and white polka dot dress, and when you pulled her string she would say things like, “Speak a little louder, dear, so Mrs. Beasley can hear you!” in a very sweet but not very youthful voice… I don’t get why a little girl would really gravitate to such a doll; I know I had one, but 1970s me was definitely much more into Barbie than Mrs. Beasley. Current day me would certainly rather be Barbie. In reality, I’m turning into Mrs. Freaking Beasley. That bites.
To top it off, some of the things I do to try to retain my youth include working out and practicing yoga. But my old Beasley body is not cooperating at the moment, and I have some weird back injury going on that is exacerbated by exercise of any kind. I’m working on getting that fixed, but meanwhile I feel myself getting older and fatter and lazier and crabbier with each passing day. And that bites.
Here’s another thing that bites: As we get older, our kids are getting older, too. I have a son set to graduate college in just a few weeks, and that is hard to accept, especially as he is interviewing and preparing to enter the real world. I find myself almost rooting against him, hoping he won’t get an offer, so he can work at McDonald’s and live in my basement until he’s 40. What’s so bad about that?? The reality is, he will probably be moving to a new city very soon. And of course that’s the way it’s supposed to happen; there’s a reason we hounded him about grades and extracurricular activities and working hard and becoming a responsible human from Kindergarten on, and shelled out all that money for a college education. But at the moment, the reality bites. At least for the mama in me that still thinks of him as my sweet little boy that needs to be rocked to sleep. (As the real Mrs. Beasley says when you pull her string: “If you were a little smaller, I could rock you to sleep!” I swear I am not making that up.)
Before you start yelling at me for my bad attitude, relax… I realize that my reality is pretty darn good. My family is healthy, we have everything we need in life, and I have lots to be grateful for. But it’s just so much more fun to bitch and complain! In fact, I think that’s one of the basic rights of old people: the freedom to be cranky. At least that’s the reality I’m choosing to embrace at the moment—even though I’m pretty sure sweet little ol’ Mrs. Beasley would never complain about ANYTHING, dear.