Today is my Mom’s birthday and she’s not happy about it. How can she be? She (and she is not alone in this) has succumbed to the constant subliminal and overt cultural messages that discount the value of older people in general and older women specifically.
We’re finding ways for people to live longer, but not better; unless they can afford it. What’s the co-pay on an extra decade? Makeup, cosmetic surgery, teeth whitening strips... at what age do you get to just be happy with yourself and not be a project to be fixed? Does the scaffolding ever get taken down?
We praise people for aging gracefully, which is code for growing older without showing it. This makes every gray hair, wrinkle, and joint pain an indictment and somehow a personal failing.
Act your age, unless you’re over 40 and then the race is on to act younger then you ever were.
I wish I could talk my Mom out of her birthday blues, but I get it. If you’ve battled racism and sexism, then ageism can feel like the sucker punch you didn’t see coming.
And we’re both old enough to know that the Pollyanna platitudes don’t cut it: blah, blah, blah, god’s plan... blah, blah, blah you’re lucky... blah, blah, blah at least you have... These statements minimize someone’s feelings, adding insult to injury.
So, no presents this year. The one thing she asked for I can’t give her. She said, “I wish I could be me all over again.” Ice cream cake, balloons, and a nice dinner will have to suffice.