I Refuse To Be The Old Lady Who Says, 'It Goes So Fast'

by Meredith Ethington
Originally Published: 
Olena Yakobchuk/ iStock

The idea of granny panties both excites me for the comfort factor and strikes fear into my middle-aged heart for the OMG-Meals-on-Wheels-is-just-a-few-years-away factor. And it’s kind of a perfect example of how I feel about getting old in general. It’s both terrifying and exciting.

You might argue that there is nothing exciting about getting old, but have you hung out with old people lately? No one is yelling at them to volunteer for the PTA anymore, and they can walk as slow as they want without being judged. No one wants you to do yard work anymore, or even cook, and there is literally no expectation for them to go to the gym daily or wear swimsuits. I’d say getting old has some pretty amazing perks.

Getting old is all about your state of mind, and I’m dedicated to the idea that I’m going to be a pretty amazing old lady. I will wear big hats and tell people off when I feel like it. And I won’t be afraid to talk about my lady parts if it’s relevant (or not) to the conversation. I just feel like it seems so freeing to be old, so I’m going to choose to look forward to it.

But I’m also dedicated to the idea of not being a certain type of old lady. That’s right, I refuse to be the type who tells a young mom to “put a coat on that kid!” or “treasure every moment because it goes so fast” (both actual things old ladies have said to me). Nope. I will not be that kind of old lady. I refuse.

Instead, I’m going to say things like, “One time, I was in Target and my toddler knocked down an entire display of movies, then ran his shopping cart into an old man and knocked him over too,” or “One time, I was in the public bathroom with my kids and they asked me why I was so hairy on my bagina so loud people were snickering when we came out.”

I will not tell a new mom to treasure every moment. I will tell her to pick out her favorite treat at the checkout counter and hide in the closet and eat it when she gets home because parenting is no joke the hardest thing she’ll ever do. And I’ll add that she’s doing a lot better than she thinks she is.

I vow to be the old lady who buys a young mom’s groceries because her kid is being a turd waiting in line or the lady who offers help instead of criticism when a child is acting out.

I will be the kind of old lady to whisper to a young mom, “Kids can be little a-holes can’t they?” when I see her on the verge of tears, or the kind of old lady who smiles and makes silly faces at the snot-nosed crusty baby in the shopping cart. Of course, I’ll let that young mom butt in line ahead of me because I’m not really in a hurry anyway.

I’ll buy a young mom dinner at a restaurant just because, and I won’t offer her advice for keeping their wild monkeys seated in their chairs. I’ll tell the server to hand her a little note anonymously that says how good her kids were, even though we all know they were little buttholes at dinner.

I’ll be the old lady on the block who always has candy for the kids and doesn’t yell at them if they play in my yard.

I’ll wear whatever the hell I want and will be the one who says what we’re all thinking. Except, I won’t ever point out that I notice that a mom hasn’t washed her hair in three days or has spit-up on her clothes. Nope.

Instead, I’ll tell her that they look like a young fashionista even if we both know she looks like she’s been to hell and back since yesterday.

If I know her well, I’ll offer to watch her kids while she runs to the store or bring her soup if they’re all puking.

I won’t point it out if her kids don’t have socks on in winter or look like their face hasn’t been wiped since birth.

Instead, when I’m old and see a young mom running around frazzled or yelling at the toddler for running into oncoming traffic in the parking lot without holding their hand, I’ll smile and tell her she’s doing great.

And I won’t tell her it goes so fast. Because I know that will make her feel guilt when she already feels guilty about everything, even though she’s actually doing an amazing job.

I’m making this promise now because I don’t want to forget how hard it was. How isolating it can feel. And how all I want now is a little support from the generation that’s been there.

I might even hug her too and tell her it’s all going to be okay. Because it will.

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