42. Not 45. Not 38. I’ve determined that my favorite age will be 42 years old exactly. Don’t think I haven’t thought this through. At the ripe old age of 19, I started trying to think about what real adulthood would be like and what it was I had to look forward to. 42 seemed like, (and ten years later continues to seem like) the very best age to be. At 42, you’ve had enough practice in life to get pretty good at it. At 42, most of society has stopped expecting you to be model thin or stay current with the trends. (And when you are current, it gets to be a pleasant surprise!) At 42, your kids and parents are usually both fairly independent. At 42, you’ve usually had a chance to accumulate some savings, and most people are making a bit more money by that time. Yet, a 42 year old woman is still young enough that she can, at that point, continue or begin to do or be almost anything she wants to do or be! To me, age 42 is ripe with promise!
Last week, however, my husband’s step-mom came up for a visit and shared a magazine article she had read. It chronicled the differences in the newest generation of grandmas. They’ve put away their baking and needlework for skydiving and rock and roll. Of major importance, the article said, was claiming your title, be it “grandma” or “ma’ma” or anything else, before the other grandparents got a chance. One name suggestion made us both roll our eyes: “Glamma”. I won’t lie. I’ve met many grandmothers that this phrase would accurately describe. Those women with a penchant for the fabulous shouldn’t be offended to be referred to as a “glamma”, but I can’t help but think that only an obnoxious diva would actually ask their grandchildren to use such a ridiculous title. Can you imagine being the 19 year old boy that has to run and pick up “glamma” from her eye doctor appointment?!
I pondered this, at 6 months pregnant with my newest set of stretch marks creeping up. “They’re not stretch marks,” a friend reassured me, “They’re BABY marks!” This seemed ironic to me, as that’s the very same phrase I use to describe the dining table dings my toddler has produced as master of cutlery related percussion. The dents in my dining set, however, have never really bothered me. During our engagement, I remember my future mother-in-law showing me the etchings on her own dining table. My husband’s misspelled papers and frustrating math equations were still prominently displayed from his heavy handed grade school pencil work. What a treasure!
In many ways, my decorating style has come to reflect my views about age and maturity. At one time, I lived in a trendy apartment with brushed metal fixtures, every room stocked with coordinated accents from the newest Target display. Unfortunately, those hippest, trendiest days of my life were often also the loneliest. Perhaps that’s how I came to reject the cheap modern sterility found in my coordinated department store belongings, and have come to favor the rustic, mismatched, farmhouse decor that seemed so boring in my own childhood. When we moved away from our trendy apartment, I’ve tried to slowly replace my housewares with some that at least LOOK like they have some sort of history to them. Weathered edges, beat up trunks, family hand me downs… I’m probably becoming a bit too rustic for my own good, but I want my belongings to show they’ve been lovingly used.
I’m sure it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black for me to make fun of “glamma”s. After all, I’m the girl who insists on still going by her college nickname. (My real name is Amanda.) But now that I can’t seem to make it through a Sunday morning without some combination of snot, drool, or spit up on my shoulder, I feel the relief of not having to be so hip anymore. Bectoria was just telling us a story from her days as a case worker, testifying in a very intense hearing. Mid sentence she looked down to find her beautiful black blouse polka dotted with toothpaste spatters from one of her foster children. “How can you take yourself so seriously when you’re thinking of that?” she says.
I suppose that’s part of aging gracefully. It’s fairly offensive when I talk about age (as the youngest of the Smarty Pants by a slim margin), but anyone can pick out my grey hairs and fine lines if they really want. I hope, however, that my fine lines remind me of sunny days too full of friendship for regular SPF application. I hope my grey hairs become evidence of those I’ve loved and worried over. I hope I can always look at my stretch marks as “baby marks”. And, I truly hope I age like my mother-in-law’s dining table.
Author’s Note: Learning to love well used hand-me-downs is a great way to stretch your budget, lead a simpler life, and create a home that tells a story. I’m always looking for new ways to use old stuff! How do YOU work those “well loved” pieces into your home, your style, and your life?