Saturday, June 30, 2007

societal ageism

The other day I was browsing in teacher supplies and heard another customer talking to the clerk.

Seems that one of her colleagues was having a baby for the FIRST time at AGE 40 and they were having a baby shower for him.
That old? The clerk exclaimed with astonishment.
Yeah, the customer said, laughing with bemusement. He just up and got married and had a baby at 40 years old!

(Astonished, as if he and his wife were just going to pack it in because they had hit 40? WTF?)

They spent some time exclaiming about WHAT WERE THEY THINKING, having a baby AT THAT AGE. Gosh, what WILL they think of next? Having a BABY. At 40! What will those crazy old people think of next.

I was over there in the posterboard section, steaming, wanting to either hide or tell them off. --Shut your mouth! and What the hell is so old about 40?

The all-knowing smugness of the attitude as if they could ever imagine somebody THAT OLD having a child.

Then they started joking about how he had joked that he'd be in a wheelchair by the time the kid got into college. More steam. For that matter, what do they think about 60 being so old? For God's Sake, I know people well into their 60s who are fitter than many 20 year olds. They are nowhere near a wheelchair.

We do happen to have many friends who are older than us who do not seem all that old. And they do call anybody out who dares imply they are "elderly" in any fashion. Some of them even have young children and are fine parents. Not the 60-year-olds, to be sure, but friends in their 40s and 50s, some of whom actually hit the procreation jackpot more than once in their 40s. And yes, I would like to get my child into college before retirement age, but that is not my prime concern.

It just galls me that people want to make remarks about somebodys life choices based on age. Okay, I am not perfect... If anything, I think of people in their 20s and 30s as ridiculously young, even though I was there myself not that long ago. Maybe we need younger friends to balance out the perspective, hmm?

But the whole "too old to be a parent" thing REALLY annoys me. Even before I hit my 40s, I had a friend tell me I was probably too old to have children. I about hit him, I was so furious. Maybe it is/was true. My eggs are crap now, not enough of the proper hormones to make the system run ideally for procreation, but still! It's more likely that I got too much exposure to certain industrial solvents in my workplace of my youth (Not To Be Used By Women Of Child Bearing Age But My Bosses Didn't Give A Fuck) and isn't THAT a happy thought? One of the reasons I got out of that field, but apparently it was too late....

AND the people I know who had children when they were what many people would consider WAY too young have done a fine job, too. So as far as I am concerned, the whole perfect age to be a parent is an illusion.

I digress, I know. This whole ageism pisses me off. Who you callin' old? Better watch it, girlie.

*goes away steaming*

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Disappointment and Happiness

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As a reward to myself after a shopping trip with M recently, I bought some ice cream at the nearby store... (of course, I knew it was there before we went to that part of town and had been anticipated the trip.) It's one of those place where you can add fun stuff into the mix. But when I got there, I could not remember what I had had before that I liked so much. Despite the noise in the place, the young man at the counter recognized what I was looking for from my description--yea-- and mixed it up for me. But when I got my ice cream, it was not what I had expected. It still had coffee ice cream, but it included peanut butter and some other stuff (not bad, but wtf ??) and he'd left out the chocolate syrup... I was feeling too nice to object (it also being quite loud I didn't feel like trying to explain myself yet again), just paid for my ice cream and sat down.

At first, I was feeling very disappointed and resigned to this serving of not-quite-what-I-wanted. For instance, peanut butter is not what I think of when I want a treat for myself, although the bits of cookie added great texture. It tasted pretty good, but I was having a hard time getting over that it wasn't what I had wanted. Mutter, mutter...

Then I told myself I was being silly. I was letting my disappointment get in the way of enjoying some fab ice cream. I told myself that if I had been offered this exact same thing at a friend's house, I would not have turned it down, and in fact would be relishing it for the treat it was. I told myself this enough times to let it sink in... Gradually, I could just sit and enjoy the experience for what it was: yummy. Status of Attitude Adjustment: Success.

Then later, I realized that I could whip up exactly what I wanted at home with ingredients that I could obtain for significantly less cost... *ahem* The only trouble is that I make a point of not keeping such ingredients in the house, knowing that I am likely to eat it all the durn time if I have it on hand... But it's a thought.

It was not until later that I realized that the whole experience has emotional parallels to our experience with trying to become parents. Sometimes you don't get quite what you ordered... You'd think it'd be easier to get what you want... and maybe you decide it's not worth more hassle to try yet again... But the disappointment can kill you. Disappointment can cloud your view so badly that you can't even clearly see what's in front of you.

Meanwhile, life hands you something else wonderful (although not quite what you had ordered). Do you let your disappointment cloud the enjoyment of what you have? Does it cast a pall on the whole experience? Does eerything taste like ashes with the bitterness of it all? Maybe for a while. Yeah, and then, maybe, sometimes, if you are lucky, you realize it's what you wanted, just not in the way you expected, not in the exact manifestation you had anticipated. Sure sounds like "life" to me.

Me, I wanted ice cream. I got some ice cream. Ice cream is good. Mmmmm...

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Meanwhile, I saw a B-by's R Us in the same vicinity. I could barely restrain myself from dragging my dearest over to take a look, but vowed to go back later and peruse everything. Must. Compare. Products. Oh yeah, have I mentioned I am feeling all preparatory and gung ho?

A couple days later, I was in my neighborhood drugstore and bought some well-made baby nail cutters, some semi-disposable baby spoons in rainbow colors and --get this-- a nasal aspirator. Whoo. haha I know; it's funny to get those non-cute items. To me, it represents starting my stash of neccesary baby care items.

I was dropping off some items at my local thrift store and of course cruised the furniture. No dressers or bookshelves, but I found a cute wooden child-sized rocking chair. Very cool. It needs a bit of a scrub down and some wood glue--not a problem; that chair was *mine*.

Once I had snagged the chair, I of course had to check out the baby clothes too. I ended up buying several little onesies, a cute print toddler turtleneck and a *very* cute child's zippered sweater in shades of pink, lavender and aqua of cotton and lambswool. My whole spending spree (which included half an armload of children's clothes hangers) came in under $14. Really a bargain. We have several very nice thrift stores in the area. I can see that this will be a good source for both acquiring children's clothes and letting me indulge in retail therapy at an affordable price. Whoo. "I feel good."

I started a spreadsheet to keep track of baby clothes, their sizes, colors, seasons, etc, and afterwards threw everything in the clothes basket for a wash. In the list, I included several things I have acquired in the last 5 years that I'd left buried in the back of a closet the last 3. Now they feel like they have a purpose after all.

I have a few nervous misgivings about buying big, expensive items before we get closer to match time, glimmerings of superstitions not wanting to jinx anything. But let me just say that it makes me very happy to see those dear little clothes in my clothes basket.

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