How many of you can remember your parents going to concerts in their mid-40’s or later?
Aside from one Neil Diamond concert that I can remember from about six or seven years before my dad passed, and perhaps a Beach Boys mini concert that took place after a USC football game, I can’t really remember my parents going to concerts. I know that my mom and dad always struggled with money, and it was rare that they ever actually went out without my sister and I in tow. Even that Beach Boys concert was a family affair, because we’d all gone to the game. I just don’t remember live shows, or evenings out being a part of my parent’s life.
Music was a part of our household in that occasionally my parents would buy records, and they liked playing music after dinner, but it was typically older, rather than newer. For my parents, Elvis was the common denominator. My dad liked “Country Western” and my mom seemed to gravitate more towards pop of all kinds, and somehow, they agreed on Elvis. Neither were really into The Beatles, oddly enough – my mom told me it was because they seemed to come along later as opposed to during those momentous high school years. (My dad graduated from high school in 1958 and my mom in 1962) I can remember hearing anything and everything from Charlie Pride to Elton John at one point or another.
My dad never took trips with “the guys”, and my mom absolutely never set foot out the door with intentions of a girls weekend anywhere. My mom was never the type of woman to get together with friends. I can’t ever remember, for instance, there being any “friends” of my mom in our house. I never came home from school to see my mom chatting with anyone, and the only people that ever seemed to call our house were family. My mom and dad did every single thing they could together, as a couple. My mom simply preferred to be with my dad.
For that matter, my mom was never a shopper. We went to the mall on those “once-a-year school clothes or Christmas shopping” trips together as a family, and there were rarely mother/daughter outings. I can honestly count going out with her alone for a day out shopping on one hand, and one of those times was for my wedding dress. I attribute most of that to a lack of discretionary income, but also because my mom wasn’t that type of person. She still isn’t a window shopper, she doesn’t like going out to the mall unless it’s for a reason. She has never been much of a browser, because in her mind, if you go to a store, it’s got to be because you need something. Some of that, she has passed on to me, although I fight it, which I will get to in a minute.
I read an article yesterday about loving ourselves even as we age. Once we reach the age of about 35 or even 40, both of which are well-behind in my rear view mirror now, the world stops caring about us. Advertisers ignore us, because I’m pretty sure that the rest of the world has decided that once you’re 35, you should go somewhere, lay down, and await death.
Except we haven’t. And I won’t go quietly.
I think about my mom. She’s 74 now. Unfortunately, she lost my dad ten years ago, and her friend and partner about two years ago. My mom and I have had numerous conversations about my “Duran Duran exploits” over the years, which makes it all sound slightly lascivious, and perhaps to my mom, they were. I think the expectations of women were very different for her than they might have been for my generation. I think she was shocked when I first told her I was flying across the country to go to a convention. That wasn’t even a concert – I was just going to go meet people I’d “met” online! There have been many times when I know she felt that I had my priorities crossed, even though I know how much happier I am as a person now than I was, isolated and caring for two very young children. The cross-generational differences are glaringly obvious at times.
Historically, perhaps women did get married, have children and stop doing anything else outside of the family. If other women were anything like my mom or my grandmother, maybe life did slow down quite a bit after 35 or even 40. But to just pretend we don’t exist? Um, tell that to the thousands (yes, thousands) of women my age or even older at Duran Duran shows! Not only have they not laid down to await their impending death – they are living. Vibrantly. Beautifully. Strongly. They’ve got life by the tail and are swinging it around, ready to throw it whenever, and however, they choose. I’m happy to be in that group, too.
I fight the urge to just stay at home. I can be a bit of a hermit. I’m far better at being an introvert than I am an extrovert. The effort it takes me to be chatty and friendly at gatherings is pretty embarrassing. I will literally collapse after get togethers sometimes. It is easier for me to sink back into the comfort of spending my entire life just hanging out with my husband (and we’re like oil and water a lot of the time!) than it is for me to find good friends to do lunch. I try to remember to get out of the house and to go do things with my daughters (or even my son) from time to time. It isn’t always easy, but I am not just going to lay down and wait for death to sweep over me like a cold blanket. I can do that later.
I’m still learning how to love myself at 47, or even 50. It’s not easy. I look in the mirror or down at myself and see the bad things first. The grey hair, the bags under my eyes, the middle-aged weight gain, and the way my legs seem to grow lizard scales if I don’t moisturize daily are all things my eyes focus on first. I have to talk myself into the idea of going to Duran shows, the struggle of feeling confident amongst the rest of you is real. All of those things can really get me down if I let them. But then I think about the things I’ve done, and what I still want to do. I’m not old yet. I still feel young. I’m not ready to retire. I won’t go away quietly.