Years ago, when our daughter was in daycare, I spoke to the mother of one of her friends. During her pregnancy, the other mother had gained a lot of weight that had never gone away.
“I always blame it on the baby,” she shrugged. “Somebody asked me about it recently — when I’d given birth. I had to tell her ‘the baby’ was five.”
I get that. Oh, yeah. Once you have a perfect excuse, you never want to let it go — no matter how ancient, tattered, and completely inappropriate it is.
Along the same lines, having children became my husband’s and my all-purpose excuse for just about every one of our shortcomings.
Why didn’t we have exciting parties the way we used to — you know, the kind that lasted till dawn, with several of our guests passing out in the front yard? Because we had children, that’s why.
Why did we always look so beat? The children!
Why was our house such a mess? The children!
Why didn’t we get out much? The children!
Why didn’t we have any energy? The children!
We were off the hook for everything, including our lack of fashion savvy, our ignorance of the latest movies, the tacky way we wrapped birthday presents in newspaper pages.
You’re expecting a miracle, maybe? We have kids. Capisce?
The years pass, the years become decades, our “children” are 32 and 28. And sure, we get out more than we used to and our house isn’t such a mess. But everyone of any age and stage in life still needs an all-purpose, go-to excuse — and it’s unsettling when yours is snatched away. (It’s like spending years blaming your bad moods on PMS: What are you going to do when you hit menopause? Blame yourself and your rotten disposition? Certainly not.)
Or wait a minute. Hold on. Maybe, it occurs to me, we’ve entered a new era in our lives. Maybe we no longer give parties that last till dawn simply because we don’t want to. We’ve done it and it was great fun and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. But its time has passed.
These days, we have lots of other activities — like taking long naps and watching highly challenging TV series. I would apologize for that, but I’ve already spent too much of my life apologizing and making excuses.
At this later point in life, I’m pretty sure we’re doing it because we enjoy it. No way I’ll be apologizing for that.
(Copyright 2014 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read about getting pushed around by the people who “serve” us — or is it just me?
It’s always good to have some excuses ready just in case, for anything that might pop up.
I love this, Ruth. Age allows you to skip the apologies and do just what you’d like. But I have to admit I do miss the PMS excuse…I’m past the menopause excuse, too, dammit.
Well, Jerry and I now have the ultimate excuse, and it will last our lifetime — only get better with time. We don’t get out much anymore; I don’t have those great parties anymore; I have to hire somebody else to clean my house; I need a gardener to weed my garden, and so on. We’re old, that’s why. We’re 82 and rising.
When I turned 50 (quite some time ago!) the wallpaper on my monitor was a scroll that read “Fuck it. I’m 50.” Appropriately updated, that has been my excuse ever since.
The next excuse ( and I hear it a lot ) is grandchildren…
Mine has been eldercare, but now that we’re completely without parents … I can’t use that one anymore. The grief lingers, though. I’m saying YES more lately, but I keep a good solid NO, thank you, on reserve.
I agree. Blaming the baby weight on your 46-year-old son really does seem a bit lame. So, I have no excuse.
Turning 70 this weekend and am glad you have given me permission to do something just because I enjoy it and then not have to apologize.
This made me laugh, Ruth…and so did HeatherL’s comment
This is wonderful. For sure, doing what you like — without apologies — is the way to go.
Lou and I just had a great laugh over “watching highly challenging tv series.” Thanks. Miss you guys.
“We do it because we enjoy it” – yes! I’m down with that, sister.
“Been there, done that,” I’d say. I do miss the parties though. And, to be honest, I no longer give them because my husband needs to wear hearing aids and they do not filter out background noise.