Time is something that just seems to catch up with us sometimes.
“You’re how old?” my son asked one day when he caught the tail end of a conversation.
“I’ll be 50 this year,” I replied.
“Fifty?” he repeated.
Age is a funny thing when you’re younger though.
When Cole was in first grade, they had the kids make a picture for Mother’s Day listing out different ways they described their mom. One was how old they thought she was. Cole thought I was 21.
To him, that was old then.
Whatever age my friends were when I met them is what they remain perpetually in my mind. So when I see them posting about grandchildren, I always think something must be off.
When I was younger, I remember thinking that 30 was old and 40 was ancient. Fifty — well, 50 was just up there with Methuselah.
But here I am, six months away from 50 and I am realizing that age — and time — is such a trickster.
Somehow, I blinked and my son went from being a toddler to grown.
I blinked again and my mother suddenly became so much older as well.
Her auburn hair has now faded to silver and somehow she’s shrunk.
“You are getting taller,” she told me recently.
“No, I’m not, Mama,” I replied gently. “You’re getting shorter.”
Osteoporosis has taken her from previously being taller than me and somewhat willowy, to be much shorter than me, and I’m 5’2.
She claims to have a lot of wrinkles but I don’t see them, thinking she’s just being a bit critical of herself.
It just happened all of a sudden it seems, or maybe I didn’t notice it until there was a long stretch of time where we couldn’t see each other due to the pandemic. When I did see her, she suddenly looked like she was much older than she was just not that long ago.
She doesn’t really feel old or consider herself an elderly person though stubbornly complains when I tell her to let me do things for her.
“I can still do this,” she demands.
“I know, Mama,” I say. “Let me take care of it for you though.”
She doesn’t like it, insisting she can carry in the heavy items from the car, nor does she like for me to tell her not to do things.
But she’s not the she-dragon Crazy Redhead I knew in my youth, the woman who had the perpetual Virginia Slim 120 perched by her flowing red tresses, one hip cocked to the side as she was telling me what I was and wasn’t going to do — no buts, no coconuts about it. The one who’d go to the huge library in Athens with me to do papers in college and had no trouble finding the resources I needed online.
Now she’s a little older woman wearing soft, cotton clothing that’s comfortable and fussing as she’s trying to figure out her new smartphone.
It hit me.
As I was growing up and moving forward with my life, my mother was growing older and I was somehow too busy to catch it.
Just as our children grow up so quickly and we wish time would slow down so we could freeze those moments, our parents – the ones who raised us – are aging and those passages of time that we’ll never get back are slipping through our fingers as well.
It’s made me distinctly aware that one day, I’d be older too, as Cole’s surprise at my age settled into my thoughts. Maybe in some way, he was thinking I was still that age he wrote on the Mother’s Day Mad Lib, the then ripe old age of 21.
Maybe it made him start thinking ahead about how one day, I’d be so much older and maybe not quite the feral version of a mother I am now. Or maybe he’s just thought about how his other grandmother went home from work one night and had a stroke and has been in a wheelchair ever since. He’s a lot more aware of things than I was at his age, and a bit more forward-thinking than I was.
As he’s been growing up and creating his own way in the world, I’ve been growing older alongside him.
If anything, it’s making me very aware of how time’s passing right before our eyes, too fast for us to really realize.
Somehow, I’ve got to make it slow down just a little bit, at least until I can catch up.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.