Last night, I was exhausted in that way that only single working mothers can understand. Thursday night, the tail end of a week of getting my teen-aged kids off to school, after-school activities and attending my own business meetings and events, cooking (most nights), cleaning (just enough that if I did get a visit from social services they wouldn't take my children), and I was driving home from my daughter's creative writing class's performance. She was talking to me, trying to tell me something, and I said, "I'm sorry honey; I'm so tired, I'm not processing...I'm not...I just can't think..." "It's okay, Mom." she said with that 'rolling-my-eyes-at-you' tone of voice only teenage girls can master.
Feeling I've let her down, and wanting to be fully present, as all good mom's are, I continued to drive using my automatic brain while coaxing my cognitive brain, "Come on, damnit! Work! Work!"
And then it hit me, "Oh God, when I'm old, it's going to be like this all the time!"
It's interesting when in our forties, we begin to get glimpses of what is to come. It's hard to imagine the feeling of knowing your brain used to work, and noticing it no longer is cooperating, until you've been there.
Earlier this week, we went out for frozen yogurt at one of those yogurt bars with rows and rows of decadent toppings. While we were there, some carolers from the local high school came in and began to sing us a regalia of Christmas songs.
For one of their last numbers, they sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and I happily listened as they wrapped it up with, "You'll go down in history!" and one member of the chorale shouted, "Like a walnut!"
"Like a walnut?" I mused aloud, yet to myself. "What an interesting choice, walnut. I wonder why they'd say walnut..."
I looked up to see my children's faces twisted in confusion and horror.
"What are you talking about?" my daughter demanded.
"They said like a walnut." I replied, incredulous that they would think it normal to include a walnut, as fine a nut as it is, in the annuls of history.
"They said 'like OBAMA'!" my children chimed in unison.
"Ahh...yes, well that makes sense..." I conceded, and back to muttering, "My God, I'm turning into my grandmother."
Terror? Not quite. No, the terror came when my daughter later informed me as we left the yogurt bar and got in the car, "You know, when you're old and senile, you're not going to come and live with me. I'm going to have my own life!"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I mean, I'm not going to be having arguments with my husband about you and how much longer you are going to stay and when you're leaving."
"Yeah, Mom, we're just going to put you in a home." My 16-year-old son concurred.
"You are?" I saw the resolve on their faces, "Well then, go ahead and kill me."
"Mom, how could you ask me to do that? To kill my own mother?" my son protested.
"Well, you'd put me in a home, so apparently you'd subject me to torture. I'd prefer you just kill me." And next thought to myself, "when did I have a Jewish grandma?"
The future suddenly looks bleak. When is that moment? When does the shift happen when you go from eagerly anticipating the next milestone, first kiss, driver's license, college diploma, to terror and dread?
Sure, I could look forward to grandchildren, and...ah...great grandchildren who, it appears, will be visiting me at the nursing home. But who are we kidding? There's no beauty product for hearing loss and brain malfunction.
No, the days of looking eagerly ahead are gone. I'm just now sitting in the theater watching the previews. The full-length feature version is a few years out, "Night of the Living Senile Mother! Coming soon to a theater near you!"