Is life better after turning forty one?
I remember when my mother turned forty one, way back in 1981. To my almost-thirteen-year-old self, the actual number sounded old, but she looked young, beautiful and was full of energy.
She had a high school teacher and all-round handyman and cricketing-fanatic husband, two boys aged 14 and 10, myself, a friendly cat called Sox, a house completely paid-off, two cars and skin that made all the girls in my class rush out to buy Nivea because that's what I told them she used everyday.
Mum could feed a family on a shoestring budget, make her own clothes, encourage plants to produce fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers in a climate best suited to camels and sun-bleaching bones and abhorred the expense and the laziness of take away meals. She completed her matriculation four years earlier by attending evening classes at the local TAFE (then called the 'Community College'), studying when us kids were at school and typing out her assignments at night when she'd put us all to bed and came out second in the state for her results.
Pauline Florence also read newspapers to the blind, did more than her share of stints in the school canteen, covered books for the library, had a Meals-on-Wheels run, starred in several musicals, made costumes, sang in the choir and umpired netball matches.
She was a hard act to follow. What the hell have I learned at the same age?
Not much it seems. Instead, it's more a case of what I should know by now but still keep doing. Ridiculous things like:
- Eating an orange straight after I've cleaned my teeth.
- Forgetting - every single time, every single day of my life - which direction to turn the key in order to open our front door, back door, car door, parents' house door, brothers' house doors; having a guess and getting it wrong. Every single time.
- Drinking coffee after 3pm. This has only proved wise if I choose to be lying in bed at 3am, singing 'You're hot and you're cold, You're yes and you're no, You're in and you're out, You're up and you're down' over and over in my head whilst on a lumpy, hot pillow, scratching my legs with toenails that need cutting so urgently I get out of bed, give them a trim, hop on the computer to check out LOL-dogs and start re-naming every snap in our digital photo album from 2005 to 2007.....
- Scoffing spoonfuls of Milo straight from the tin. Being desperate enough for a chocolate fix to have to resort to a powdered malted milk flavouring is sad enough for a kid, but as an adult? One older than twenty who is no longer living on Austudy allowance? Naturally, when there's no-one around when I start digging that spoon in someone still walks in and catches me. It's some kind of Kath Law of Stupidity and Immaturity that isn't entirely undeserved.
- Eating drinking cocoa from the tin, which is even more shameful. I've found out the painful and embarrassing way that this low behaviour leads to coughing fits if you inhale instead of swallow the powdery dust.
- Scrubbing the base of the shower/bath when I'm in there doing my own, erm, scrubbing - one day that Jif creme cleanser is going to splash up into a painful place where the sun don't shine.....
- Making nervous and inappropriate remarks to people I don't (yet) know very well. Such as "Hey, do you want to feel really handsome? Go do some shopping at our local Safeway," before a meeting starts and then finding out that his wife is the property manager for the retail site there. True story.....
- Changing hairstyles. At forty-one, my hair knows what it wants to do. Like a reality show contestant, it just wants to sit there, doing nothing. As such, trying anything new just doesn't work. I don't have the elegance or confidence to carry off a new look. A few weeks ago my hair lightened and cut in a shaggy style that allowed me to roughly tousle it forward and give it a bit of height instead of brushing it back, Lady Di circa 1981 style. Love Chunks' reaction? "You look like the Love Child of Strauchanie and Margaret Pomeranz!"
- Poking Love Chunks in his precious bits which perhaps isn't the best way to commence a discussion on why his throw-away remarks might be misinterpreted by me during my PMT week.
I remain, therefore, a work in progress.