Tag Archives: age

The gym, the f-word and the mama

For me as a mother, besides fighting against racism and sexism, besides homework, besides working with her school on issues large and small, besides cleaning and keeping food in the house–there is my own body.  I know a number of mothers who go to yoga and zumba classes and my sister gets up at a ridiculous hour to go to boot camp.  I do none of it so far.  I do know for many of us women/ mothers– there is a real battle to even get keeping our physical selves in good shape– onto the to-do list.  What I’m trying to say is women’s health is a feminist issue and I am slowly coming to realize that this is an important frontier in my busy, all-female household.

Over the Passover holiday I asked my sister, who was part of the out-of-town Pesach team, to go with me to the gym– where I’d gone exactly once since I started my job in February 2012.  My sister has been very into exercise in the past year or two.  She goes to boot camp and doesn’t do her thing at a gym– she doesn’t even like gyms, but for me, she obliged.  We made several trips to the gym.  That routine fell off the map after she left but will be back on again starting this weekend when I meet with my new trainer.  I am trying to bring some semblance of regular exercise, strength and flexibility back into my life.  I want to be in better shape, I really want to be stronger and much more flexible and I want to model being a woman who does this and who enjoys it– for my daughter and the other young girls in my life.  I want to take better care of my own female body.  For me.

So the other day, I called the male general manager of my gym to clear up something about a few personal training sessions that I bought but haven’t used.  He was very nice, much nicer than the last general manager I had dealt with at that gym.

After we got clarity about personal training sessions I said, “By the way, I’m a woman, I’ve been a gym member for two years now and I really want some of your regular groups and classes centered on people over 45– for strength and stretching and cardio.  I don’t need to be only with people in their 40s and 50s and 60s– but I’m tired of being the only one over 45 in a sea of 20’s and 30’s.”  He still sounded interested and courteous and he said ,  “There’s a class on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:30 a.m. called, ‘Aging with Elegance'”.  We were on the phone so he didn’t see me wince and roll my eyes.  I think I also actually snorted a little.

In his defense, he sounded like he knew this wasn’t really going to fly when the sentence started out of his mouth but he didn’t have anything else.  I decided I would set aside sarcasm and try to educate him.  He seemed attentive and earnest and was being nice to me.  He had only just begun to seem to me the littlest bit condescending but maybe he didn’t make up the name of the ‘Aging with Elegance’ class.

I said, “Look–I am sort of out of shape, and I could use to shed some weight but I want to give you a picture of where I am in terms of my physical activity level.”  I wasn’t defensive– what do I have to defend?   I said– “I have an 11- year-old daughter and she weighs about 110 and I play-wrestle her often.”  I went on.  “Also, I live on the fourth floor of a walk-up with no elevator (really the 3rd floor, but we park and enter in the basement)– therefore, I carry ridiculous amounts of groceries and laundry; I carry small and not-so-small pieces of furniture of all kinds; cases of seltzer water, potting soil and other things up and down three flights of stairs about every day.  But I’m not a 28-year-old who pumps iron four days a week or runs marathons.”  With that I heard him wince a little and felt him listen with renewed respect.

I paused so he could digest all this.  I closed with, “And one other thing is this.  I work a very full-time job for our legislature and I am definitely not ever available at 9:30 a.m. on weekday mornings.”  I could tell he was embarrassed by the class he had offered and he said he’d think about it and talk to some of their early morning teachers.  He meant he would try to figure out something that might  work for laundry-grocery-trash-hauling-wrestling- moms like me.  Obviously I don’t know where this will go– so we’ll see.  In the meantime I’m heading off to see Trish, my new trainer, on Saturday.  She just had a baby I hear, so she will either be a little on the stiff, sore, exhausted side herself– or she’ll be a remarkable female specimen capable of having a baby and returning to spinning class that same afternoon.  Either way, I hope we’ll like each other and once in a while I’ll write about my progress on this– another feminist project.

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Maladies: Fourth of July, adjusting to 11 years old

This year I kind of hated Fourth of July–which is not my very favorite holiday at all, but one that I often like a lot.  With some months (this time around) of regular work under my belt, I’m still having big trouble adjusting to some parts of my particular post-recession- back- to- work life.  Less money (a lot less of it than before I was laid off from the last job), hours that are too long and flexibility that is too limited nag at me.  A holiday on a Wednesday just exacerbates it.  I’m a long way  into my career but I don’t have enough annual leave accumulated to take a weekend plus two days off  and still have leave time for that two-week vacation we are having trouble planning.  So we just had this dangling holiday on a ridiculously hot day.  We actually had a wonderful time with close friends we’ve not seen in  months– and a fun time going to fireworks at a park that we could walk to– but still I wanted a long weekend instead of one short, hot day.  It was a glass half-empty day.

I love and am blown away by the growing-up human being who is my daughter, but I’m also having trouble adjusting to 11.  My daughter’s age now.  I don’t mean it’s bad, it’s actually quite good.  She’s truly thriving and a lot of things that she had been struggling with last summer and this school year have shifted and  come together for her beautifully.  But life with someone 11 is different from before.  As a parent every year, sometimes every six months is different, but 11 years old seems– well more different.

It’s a different identity– being the mother of a pre-teen girl.  My mother role is different.  I would definitely say it’s not less.  There seems to be more laundry, more forms to fill out, and there are more decisions to be made on a shorter time frame. There is so much to figure out but you figure it out differently.  It’s less hands-on.   It’s more hands-on.

You become a sleuth in a certain way.  You don’t, for example, go into the school or the camp or the home of her new friend and just watch what is going on to figure out what you think.  You watch, sometimes, from a greater distance and listen to conversations that happen in the back seat of the car while you drive and try to participate and try not to.  You have to be available a lot, a lot, a lot.  But you may save the whole day to be together only to have your child use your good attention and love and confidence in her to decide to call a new friend and then leave for the whole day.  I’ve not completely figured it out.  I’m looking ahead at her life as she grows up, at my life as she grows up.

May 20. Daughter’s birthday morning, inspecting her new, first cell phone with my sleepy and bandaged partner. (Partner will hate this photo but I don’t)

Morning city walk, setting up her voicemail– she is a digital native, no instructions, no how-to card…

All that said, I feel the same way, which was a very touching-sweet way– a mom who was a complete stranger described her feeling about 11 years old.  15 years ago.  It was Fourth of July weekend then and my sister had come to visit us for the Fourth with her older (4 years old) and younger (11 weeks) old sons.  We were walking around the Lincoln Memorial, and I had the 11 week old in a sling on my body.  A woman about my age stopped to peer in and admire the baby–she reasonably assumed he was my new baby.  She asked, how old is he? and I replied– 11 weeks old.  She smiled and nodded off into the distance presumably at her boy but I wasn’t sure which boy, of several in the distance, was being pointed to.  She said in a nice way, not a cloying or weird way– Mine’s 11 years old.  They’re just as special and wonderful at 11 years— and smiled and congratulated me on the new baby and left.  Her tone, her pleasure in her son, her pleasure at being the mother of someone who was exactly her son, at his exact age, was unforgettable and I have often thought of her.  I thought of her when my older nephew turned 11 and then again when the younger one– long out of the sling on our bodies– turned 11 and then again this year with my own daughter.

Still, I’m uneasy in my new working-at-a-new-job-mother-of-an-11-year-old skin.  And I’m having trouble writing– not just trouble fitting it in, but trouble mapping out what I want to say.  But I will marshal on and hopefully insights, more clarity, a sense of ease and well-being or at least a sense of humor and more writing will return.

Cool.

I became a parent later than most– in my 40’s.  Although I wasn’t by any objective standard, I spent several years after my daughter was born and came into our family, feeling like a young mother.  I wasn’t a young mother, but I sure felt like one.  Things felt new and different and hopeful and exciting.  Walking around that first summer with my very new and small baby– it all made me feel like a young mother.  I had a couple of wonderful nephews by that time (I still have them, though they too aren’t as young as they were then), but they were young enough still (8 and under) that in terms of my family– I was still used to being the younger generation for many purposes.   Like for example my nephews weren’t clued in to pop music at that point.  If they knew popular dance moves at that point, they weren’t doing them– at least not in my presence.  Then they all started to grow up, and particularly my daughter.   

I have had to get used to no longer being cool.  She is cool.  I am uncool.  I still sometimes feel cool, but as she gets older she thinks I am not.    She wears cooler things than what looks good on me at this point.  She and my nephews know things that are passed on from young person to young person, things that I don’t know and have never heard of.  Music.  Turns of phrase.  Actors and tv shows.

It’s a really startling thing to have moved from cool to uncool.  I still don’t really think I am totally uncool, but it’s all very complicated and perhaps I really am totally uncool at this point.  My daughter can definitely do certain dance moves that I can kind of replicate– but well– really not.

Recently, we discovered together, some new music that we like a lot and I loaded it onto my Ipod.  I am not someone who walks around plugged into my Ipod all the time or even most of the time, but sometimes I do and lately, with this new music I do take the Ipod to the grocery store and out with me as I or we do things.  But I notice that I practically have to dance when I listen to certain things.  If my daughter is with me and I start to sway or bop even a little to the music, she tells me to “stop it, you’re embarrassing me”–  I think those are her exact words.  I don’t much like it.  Being embarrassing rather than cool, that is.  I do notice that other young people– people much older than she is but much, much younger than I am, listen to their Ipods all the time without so much as a twitch, let alone breaking out into hip-moving dance steps or belting out the refrain of a great song as they stand in line somewhere or walk past me on the sidewalk.  So I’m thinking that partly I’m just not cool anymore– that a certain part of cool just simply has to do with being part of a youth culture that no matter what I know, listen to or care about, I’ve simply aged out of.

And I’m also thinking that part of being a parent is offering yourself up as the uncool foil as your child or children age into cool-ness.  I do have a friend who is the mother of a very old friend of mind– she’s in her 80’s.  She is, and of course has always been, older than I am– since I met her 37 years ago, when I got close to her daughter, my good friend.  She (my friend’s mother who is also my friend) is, in my book, quite amazing and now, as she has moved into an age bracket that we often consider “old” I do consider her extremely cool.  She always was, but I am noticing it more now than I used to when I felt cooler myself.  I’m not in my 80’s but of course if I am lucky that is where I am heading.  So maybe I too am circling back toward cool, but for now, I just have to wait it out and try to walk around without dancing or singing as I listen to very cool music on my Ipod.  And I have to find and keep my own “cool” even as my daughter reprimands me for being just so not.

Cool, when she chooses cool clothes.

More of her style.

And then there's not even trying, just because she is. Herself.

We both like stripes.