When I was giving Tabitha a hug the other morning, she pulled back from my embrace and stared deep into my eyes for a moment. With an expression that spoke of earnestness mixed with confusion, she raised her tiny finger to point to my mouth and said, “Mama, you’ve got old, dirty teeth.”

Even my daughter, suffering from a case of the terrible threes, could see that mommy was in much worse shape.

Later that day as I was driving to work, a favorite old song came on the radio, “Love Bites” by Def Leppard and suddenly the gap between me now and me “then” was almost too much to take. Even though I could still remember every word of that beloved song – even though I could even remember how it felt to drive in my 1982 metallic blue Dodge Colt with the tape deck blaring – I couldn’t remember what if felt like to actually BE 16 anymore. Oh, intellectually, I can imagine what it felt like to be young, impulsive and on the cusp of new freedoms I could only dream of without realizing the freedoms I’d have to shed along the way. But the ability to actually reach deep within and grasp the feelings of the 16 year old that was me – that ability was gone, presumably another trade off made in pursuit of my life today.

Suddenly, it wasn’t just my teeth that were getting old.


A few days later I was chatting with a girlfriend who was enduring her own little thirty-something crisis. Out of the blue, she’d gotten an email from an old high school boyfriend and it stirred up feelings she’d long forgotten. It wasn’t that she wanted to go out with him again, or even that she regretted anything about their time together, it was more of a realization that that part of her life was over so long ago. Profoundly, deeply over.

Sympathetic, I tried to comfort her by telling her that everyone changes – we all have these moments when the changes in the terrain smack us in the face and hindsight is 20/20. I reassured her that all we can do is embrace, learn, and laugh along the way. For a moment I was almost comforted by my own words.


Chatting with another good friend a few weeks ago, she revealed the fact that she has a Facebook page. After getting over my stunned horror that anyone I know would actually have something so pedestrian and trendy as a Facebook page, it occurred to me to ask her if she’d met any old acquaintances. Somehow, the conversation steered from people she’s reconnected with to people she has no interest in reconnecting with, including a particular person – a boy from our high school class named Barry – who was a spectacularly nerdy social outcast known for his skin-tight brown polyester pants, thick glasses and a pronounced lisp. Curious, she had taken a quick look at Barry’s Facebook page which confirmed it. Barry may be hip enough to have a Facebook page, but one glance at his (now balding) nerdy photo and the caption beneath reading, “Barry has 1 friend” was all the update we needed on his life.

Could it be that, maybe our youth wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?


Okay, so when I was 16 I wore a size 12 and weighed – well- let’s just say a LOT less than I do now. I was fairly pretty with lovely, long golden brown hair that I never appreciated and an exceedingly flat stomach that I long to reclaim. I also had much more free time and possessed the boundless dreams that can only be held by someone who hasn’t faced many of life’s obstacles yet.

Of course I also had bad acne breakouts timed with my excruitiatingly painful periods, 80’s bangs that stuck straight up into the air (held there securely by a generous spraying of Aquanet), and almost no fashion sense (see bangs). On top of that, I lived at home with my mom and stepfather who ceaselessly bickered and refused to spring for basic cable TV, had a menial job where the owner of the tiny drug store I worked for called me “Babe” whenever he patted me on the ass, and no steady boyfriend. Not much to like about any of those things.

So, maybe the lesson learned here is that it’s easy and normal to be whistful about the past. Perhaps it’s even Mother Natures way of reminding us not to take too much for granted today. After all, I’m old enough to know that today’s sorrows becomes tomorrow’s healed wounds and today’s mistakes are tomorrow’s lessons learned. The terrible thirties aren’t really so terrible as they are remarkable. My thirties have shown me that my tranformation into a grown-up is well underway, especially now that I’m finally old enough to realize that the ultimate power of change – self acceptance – is totally up to me.

Thankfully, I have some more time to figure out how to do that before my next mid-life crisis strikes.

Spread the Love:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis