Fighting Off The 'Lasts' In My 40s

by Stacy Graebner
Originally Published: 

When our kids are little, we tend to focus on all of their “firsts”: their first steps, their first words and—oh yes, how can we forget?—that magical first tantrum at Target.

As our children grow older, they begin to hit milestones we aren’t even aware of, because there is no way of knowing they’ve occurred until they’ve passed. These are the “lasts”: the last time they drank from a sippy cup, the last time they asked us to cuddle with them before bedtime, the last time we needed to bend over to give them a hug and (hallelujah!) their very last tantrum at Target.

While out running the other day, I started thinking about our own adult version of “lasts.” Having run seven marathons in my 20s and 30s, I’ve been contemplating training for another one. It’s funny (sort of) how life, kids, exhaustion and wine seem to have derailed my plans for the past 12 years, but I cling to the dream of completing another one despite the fact that it never seems like the “right” time to start training. I’ve also been plagued with injuries over the past few years, one of which forced me to take what I affectionately call The Subway Ride of Shame when I pulled up lame like a racehorse during a 10-mile race in Philadelphia.

The thought that I might never again do something that used to give me the ultimate adrenaline rush, something that I loved so passionately, hit me hard and left me feeling sick. Is it possible that I’ve already run my last marathon? Would I ever be mentally and physically strong enough to finish another one? This tough realization led me to consider some of my other possible “lasts.” My thoughts went something like this:

When was the last time I did a cannonball off a diving board? Was there in fact a final cannonball? More importantly, did I nail it?

How about swinging on swings at the playground? When was the last time I did that? Have I swung for the last time?

What about dancing? At an actual place designated for dancing? With a group friends? Did I do The Lawnmower for the last time and not even realize it? And if I wanted to go dancing with my fortysomething friends, where would we even go? The YMCA? Applebee’s?

Now that I think about it, I’ve started avoiding shorts at all costs. I’m all sundresses and skirts. Could it be that I’ve worn my last pair of shorts? And did I at least look cute in them at the time?

Ice Skating! Will I ever skate like Robby Benson in Ice Castles again?

I didn’t even watch The Bachelor last season. No interest. Is it possible that I’ve watched my last episode of The Bachelor? Have I witnessed my last hot mess cocktail party? What is happening to me?

Most importantly, when was the last time I streaked down the road naked?

(I’ve actually never done that, but it was a long run, and my mind started to wander.)

I ended my run feeling like I needed to do something to manage these “lasts” to the best of my ability. Although there are indeed some experiences that I’m happy to put behind me (drinking to the point of oblivion, anyone?), there are others I’m going to hold onto until the bitter end because they are just too good to let go. So I decided to make a list, kind of like a Bucket List, but smaller in scale, more like a Dixie Cup List, or a Tiny Cup Used to Dispense Medicine List, or perhaps even a Thimble List of commonplace things I enjoy doing that I will make a conscious effort to continue doing to avoid the dreaded Last Time.

A few things I have officially not done for the last time:

1. Stayed up until 2 a.m. laughing and drinking with friends.

2. Worn a bikini (okay, a bikini top. I happily gave up on bikini bottoms years ago, because I have what I like to call a “mullet” body—business on top, party on the bottom).

3. Ridden a rollercoaster.

4. Attended a concert where the average age of attendees is higher than 14.

5. Eaten an entire bag of Skittles in under five minutes.

6. Jumped on a trampoline.

7. Worn an article of clothing clearly designed for a 25-year-old.

8. Thrown a football.

9. Gone sledding.

10. Made a new close friend.

11. Worn an outrageous color of nail polish.

12. Jumped in a pile of leaves.

13. Thrown a huge party when the last thing I felt like doing was throwing a huge party.

14. Organized a girls’ weekend with my college friends.

15. Built a snowman.

16. Pogoed.

17. Bodysurfed.

18. Body shots.

19. I meant Body Shop…visit the Body Shop

20. Purchased an overpriced lipstick, just because.

21. Athleta dresses—all summer long.

22. Roamed around New York City aimlessly.

23. Jumped in puddles during a rainstorm.

…and I haven’t run my last marathon. It’s on my Thimble List, so of course now I Must do it. And if my lame-o, racehorse, mullet body doesn’t want to cooperate? There’s always streaking, natch.

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