Friday, June 19, 2009

Changing numbers

"Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."
 Mark Twain

Instead of asking me how old I was on my birthday, Pip asked,"What's your number, Mama?"
"I'm a 4 and another 4, Pip, I'm fourty-four."  As I held up my hands to show Pip four fingers on each hand I took note of the wrinkly, crepe-like skin around my knuckles.
"We're all changing numbers, Mama."
"Yes we are, Sweetie."

It's interesting being an older mother.  Most of the women I see regularly, who have children the same age as mine, are at least five years my junior.  My niece is just a teenager and she recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  I've always viewed my 'advanced-maternal-age,' (yes-those words were actually written on the top of one of my medical files,)  very positively.  I lived such a full life before having children; I traveled extensively, enjoyed a successful career, pursued many interests, and got to know myself pretty well.  I feel much better equipped to be a mother now than I did when I was nineteen. 

This birthday, however, there was a moment when I found myself envying my youthful niece.  Not because she will have more energy as a young mom, nor because she might weather the sleepless nights better than I did.  It's the simple fact that, if we're all fortunate enough to expire due to old age,  my niece stands to witness twenty more years of her son's life than I can hope to see of my daughters' lives.  Twenty years!  Imagine all the living that Pip and Crazybaby will do in twenty years!

 I didn't allow my mind to linger upon that thought, and neither did my dear friend Valda.  She is in her eighties and she calls me every year on my birthday.  It's the same date as her wedding anniversary.  "How old are you now, Karen?" Valda asked.
"I'm fourty-four."  I didn't hold my fingers up this time.
"Oh my goodness!"
"I know, Valda," I sighed, "I'm starting to get up there."
"Oh no Karen, not at all!  You're so young!  Gosh, at fourty-four, I was just getting my second wind!"
Bless you, Valda.