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Friday, April 14, 2006

Getting Older

Today is Luke’s birthday, finally. After weeks of anticipation, he is seven. His ambivalence about it continued right up to last night. After Megan asked me to buy her deodorant and sunscreen—so she can “feel older”—Luke observed, “Megan wants to get older, but I don’t.”

I can’t say I blame him. Two weeks ago I had a doctor’s visit and walked out with four referrals and two prescriptions. I don’t have anything tragic or life threatening, except aging, which come to think of it will eventually become life threatening. For the time being, aging just means a growing list of inconveniences: bad knees, a heel spur, heart burn, trouble losing weight, that sort of thing. I tried to explain to Luke that I like being in my forties now, even though I miss my thirty-year-old body, but he didn’t buy it. He wants all that life has to offer simultaneously: nursing in his mother’s arms, climbing on a jungle gym, and being a strong adult (preferably a jedi). It seems unfair to him that you have to give up one phase to take on another. He’s got a point.

Still, Luke’s complaints remind me of a piece I read recently by 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney, where he explains why he increasingly values women over 40. Here are just a few of Rooney’s observations on “Why Older Chicks Rule:”
If a woman over 40 doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And, it’s usually something more interesting.

A woman over 40 knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Few women past the age of 40 give a hoot what you might think about her or what she’s doing.

Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you, if they think they can get away with it.

You get the drift. I think he’s right that there is a freedom women feel as they age, even if they don’t actually shoot anyone. Ironically, I think Megan feels that freedom now, at nine, in a way she might not when she hits adolescence and actually needs deodorant. I look at my daughter, who seems to be growing up so fast, and at my son, who still longs to be a baby, and I want them to just appreciate where they are in life, to live the stage their in. It’s advice I could give myself, as well.


Blogger thomast said...

The piece you cite is one of many that have been falsely attributed to him.

That said, it smacks somewhat of misogyny wrapped in a cloak of pro-woman sentiment and a few self-deprecating slaps at men as hopelessly boorish through no particular fault of their own. The underlying theory of the first few "examples" is that women under 40 are too concerned with getting or keeping their man to be self-assured and outspoken. That Megan has already rejected this absurd principle is a fabulous testament to her spirit and upbringing, and the relationships she sees around her.

I'm a newish reader here, but this is quickly becoming my favorite blog to read. The others in my RSS reader tend to be somewhat angry leftist blogs, or funny/smart mommy blogs, or Quaker blogs. I love coming here to get all of that good stuff wrapped up in one beautifully written post!

4:46 PM  
Blogger Eileen Flanagan said...

Thanks for reading, Thomas, and for the correct attribution. I should know better than to pass on something I received in an e-mail!

I appreciate your comments on the overall piece I cited. The dismissive tone toward men is the reason I didn't quote the whole thing. On the other hand, I don't think it's necessarily misogyny to note that many women do have a hard time being true to themselves in their youth. I know many strong, smart women who feel more self-confident and willing to be outspoken now than they did in their twenties. Perhaps this is true of men, too, but I've mostly heard women talk about it. My hope is that Megan won't fall into this pattern, especially if we're on the lookout for it, but I don't think it's sexist to say that women sometimes fall into sexist traps.

6:08 PM  
Blogger naturalmom said...

Huh. That's interesting about it being falsly attributed. I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles (well not *really*, being a Quaker and all) that I heard Mr. Rooney give this commentary on 60 Minutes with my own ears! I bet I read it in an email or something and the power of suggestion worked it's magic. It took me a good 10 minutes just now to convince myself that it's possible I *didn't* actually see this commentary. The prose is very much in his style, which makes it easy to create a mental movie of him saying it. Makes me think twice about eye-witness testimony...

As for the content of the post, *thank goodness* most of us become more self-confident as we age. I'd hate to still be as wishy-washy as I was in my 20's! ;o) I hope my daughter has more self-assurance than I did at that age, but there's no shame in being inexperienced and taking time to find your footing. Inner growth is part of the human condition that goes along with getting older. Indeed it is one of the perks of growing older, balancing the downsides of physical and mental decline. If we are attentive, we might also hope to gain wisdom -- a quality that requires time to develop.


10:35 PM  

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