Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Maturation Program

Marty about 12

The biggest thing that happened in 5th grade was the Maturation Program. We all knew it was coming, and even though we acted nonchalant or even disinterested, we could hardly wait. The secrets of womanhood would be revealed and finally, we would be knowing. In my day, the boys stayed in class and did subtraction or something equally boring, and we came back with our Kotex booklets hidden in our skirts, giggling, wiping cookie crumbs from our mouths. We were now wise, and yes ... mature.

Marty, Olympus High School Senior Year

An advanced maturation program took place in my college dorm. We were all virgins (or at least pretended to be) but by then older sisters and former roommates were getting married, sharing details of what doing it was like. In the time-honored way of women, the uninitiated were prepared for the big moment.

A couple of years later I was in a room full of the well-initiated. Twenty pregnant mamas-to-be shuddered as we watched a movie of a woman in labor, and sobbed as we watched her give birth. We'd matured for six months, and attending the labor and delivery class was a privilege of the third trimester. We toured the hospital, learned all the signs and symptoms, and practiced our breathing techniques. We were ready.

Chase, Mack, Hannah,

After that, the conversation shifted. In preschool parking lots and ballet class waiting rooms we discussed our children's maturation instead of ours. Crawling, walking, talking, reading—"When did your kid start?" In Little League bleachers and parent-teacher conferences we worried and wondered if they were on schedule to become all they could become.

Halverson Heroes 1980

Back then I watched my kids get older by the second, but I planned to stay the same. Lancome and L'Oreal promised I could, so I bought eye cream and went to aerobics, hoping to catch the aging process in time. Forty came and went, and although I joked about hot flashes and reading glasses, I knew deep down that I was still pretty cute. Middle-age wasn't so bad. I'd wisely avoided the problems the old ladies at the mall seemed to have. I was through being pregnant and through being fat. Months of chicken breasts and hard-boiled eggs had me trim and youthful, and the fact that I wasn't supporting a developing or nursing baby for the first time in 11 years contributed a wonderful feeling of vitality. I lost 30 lbs in 5 months and was back to my fighting weight, healthy.

Mom and Dad, 1997

About that time my mom started to complain about her hair, her joints, her eyesight, her feet, her stomach, her taste-buds ... I tuned her out. She really didn't complain that much—just enough to bug me. "Hey, Mom! I thought we were talking about me!" (She was starting to sound like my grandma.) Then she died. I was only 48, still in denial about my own impending dotage. Getting old was for the uninformed, I thought. It was actually surprising to me that my own mother had let it happen.

Now I wish I'd paid attention to her ailments. In spite of all my plans, I'm getting old. As crazy as it seems, I'm married to a sixty-five year old Opa! And the girl who does my hair paid me this compliment the other day: "You are so darling! You remind me of my grandma!" (With compliments like that, who needs tips?)

I had an MRI on my heart this week to follow up on a problem the doc detected on an echo cardiogram. "The good news is you're 62. You've lived a good, long life with a defective heart. I'm not worried about you at all." It was good news, of course, but when someone refers to my very unfinished existence with "you've lived a good, long life" it's a reminder that I'm on the downhill slide. I'm in the third trimester, but I don't want to go to the movie and see what happens next.

Aged seems to be another normal stage of life, but nobody's interested in having the aging discussion. I would be. If they passed out booklets and cookies and punch, I'd love to head over to the gym with the class of '67 for a maturation class. Maybe they'd talk about whiskers, (on girls) and forgetting where I put all six pairs of glasses. I'd ask if anybody's feet feel like they're walking on knives first thing in the morning. The guys would come this time (even they are mature by now) and discuss the demise of the prostate, and we'd realize we've circled back to a time when doing it is a big deal again.

Even though my crowd has men and women who lift weights, do yoga, run the treadmill, swim laps and bike the canyons, there's no way around it—we're old. (It's better than being dead, which is the alternative.) I'd love to go someplace where someone acknowledges that getting old is normal, so I can stop feeling guilty about not trying hard enough. Should I have been vegan? Should I have thrown out my salt shaker? Should I have given up coke? I don't really want to know the answer to that question.

Ballou, Robinson Kid's Chorus

I wonder why we marvel that a child goes from a newborn, to a toddler, to a kindergartener who plays violin and piano, to a cub scout, building fires and water skiing, to a 5'6" young track star but we're shocked to notice our bodies have changed, too, in that same ten years.

I need a maturation program where I learn the secrets of this knew stage of life. All about the advantages, stuff to look forward to, tricks to overcome the challenges. And I want to see the folks who've made it to elder statesmen. The ones who are oozing with experience and dying to share it with someone who is interested.

If you hear of a maturation program for the young at heart
(defective hearts welcome) let me know.
I'd love to know how to put a twinkle in my wrinkle!

*P.S. You guys put a twinkle in my wrinkle! Every comment and email is read, gets a smile or a giggle, and a tender thought for what you mean to me! I can't answer them all, because I get carried away and don't have time to eat or sleep or go to the bathroom, get dressed, brush my teeth or bathe. In order to keep myself somewhat pleasant to be around, I read your comments, visit your blogs, and respond by writing my posts. You folks keep my heart beating happily!


Cath said...

Fantastic post, Marty!

Michelle said...

Maybe you could write the course in twenty years or so when you get old. :) Seriously, I can't imagine anyone who'd write it with better humor.

Grandma Cebe said...

I have an idea. Let's get some of the really mature sisters in the 18th and Canyon Road wards (like Sarah Daines, for one) to do a maturation class. While I suspect some of their vitality is genetic, I can't help but wonder if there is a great secret that should be shared with those of us who are still in the process.

Christie said...

This is my favorite thing today. Fantastically written, and totally true. Though I'm just hitting 40, I'm feeling the body changing myself. Loved this.

Heidi said...

I love that the boys are wearing Lederhosen with their Superman shirts. My jumper is pretty sweet too!

The Grandmother Here said...

Ida May, age 90+, told me that old age wasn't for wimps.

Connie said...

Just found you and love you! Thanks for a great post.

VickiC said...

What!? You don't get time to go to the bathroom? Well, you still have a way to go in the aging process. My husband complains he can't go, and I have to go every 20minutes.

I'm going to forward your post to friends today. It was a great one.

Heffalump said...

I always love reading your posts. I don't always manage to comment, but I always read!
My parents are in their mid 60s, and they never seemed old to me, but lately they are walking a little slower, and starting to complain about aches and pains. I am suddenly realizing that while they aren't OLD yet, they are mortal, and subject to aging.

Polly said...

i just found out i have a hole in my nose. there are so many strange and weird things about getting old. glad we're doing it together.

marta said...

i don't know what i love more; this blog post or these comments! hilarious. mom, of course you always hear that YOU should be the one to start it (with your new social life and all), but i am sorry and want you to know you can vent to me all you need. maybe a girls weekend in provo to re-live the old days and ignite the new is just what you need!!

or maybe a little toddler to build trains with! keep your chin up. or is that 'chins' up. j/k.

love ya.

the wrath of khandrea said...

OMGOODNESS! you are the same age as my parents, and you are making references to "it". which, in theory, could imply that my parents also tinker around with "it".

while i know that a mature woman would want her parents to engage in healthy and bonding "it", the daughter of said parents still believes she was adopted, and that they never engage in "it" because that's SICK! ESPECIALLY AT THEIR AGE!

you have scarred me for life.

Grandma Cebe said...

khandrea - I fall in the same age group as Oma. So, it makes me wonder if my own children think they are adopted because they can't possibly imagine that their parents did it at least five times and still do it. Would this revelation scar them for life?

Sheri said...

Just getting caught up, Marty.

Sorry to hear about your heart (I had heart problems a few years ago, too). GOOD LUCK. Oh, we do share more in common than just our age! We girls still have so much to teach eachother, dorm room or not.