us, circa 1996.
It’s pretty funny to have all these old photos of us together when we were much younger. It’s more interesting still to witness how we’re both aging over the years (why do guys in general look ok with the grays that come in? So unfair).
Friends, I had a much sobering moment over the weekend when my back started acting up. Though it’s not officially diagnosed, I suspect I have a possible herniated disc brewing back there. I have bouts of sciatica. My childhood scoliosis probably doesn’t help (yes, I wore an awful plastic back brace for 5 years). It’s never really terribly painful, but the pain is annoying and just there. I’ve managed to keep things under control by not lifting anything at all anymore, but it is a bit sobering to see how much this affects the every day details of my life. I’ve also now realized that the decisions I have made in my early 30s have all helped shape the life I live right now where I can manage my back issues from getting worse – the fact that I had children when I did and not later in my late 30s (and no doubt my back issues became exasperated or maybe even caused by carrying, lifting, and pushing around 2 big babies for so many years). The fact that I decided that office life wasn’t for me since it’s physically hard these days to sit in a chair all day (when I am working at home, I lie as flat on my back as I can with my laptop since that puts less pressure on my lower back).
All of these things I know. But over the weekend while Mark was gone I sort of had a freak out moment when I realized I was so dependent on him to do all those little things I need to avoid to keep my back in check. I can’t lift anything more than 10 pounds or stand longer than an hour straight without feeling it in my back and legs the rest of the day. This is why he does all the grocery shopping. This is why I can’t work in the kitchen baking cookies or lift heavy pots of water. This is why I can’t take out the garbage or carry packages to the post office. So many little things that I can’t do.
I look at my mom and see how in many ways I am becoming her. When I realize that she was only 6 or 7 years older than me when she had the first of her 2 back surgeries it makes me feel really old in a way that I have never felt before. Watching your parents age is like watching a play unfold – everything is written on the wall. You see how some of their life choices are catching up with them now, or you see how some of the choices they made 20 years ago, like quitting smoking (my dad) or switching careers from a less physically demanding job (nursing) to a desk job (real estate), have made a difference for the better. The things that we do when we are younger really do affect our lives later on. You can’t see this or care about it when you’re in your 20s (we thought we were invincible back then, didn’t we?), but man, when you turn 40, suddenly all those issues are right there in your face.
Still, there are no regrets, but I feel like we are at a critical age where the things we are doing now will affect the rest of our lives. Our parents are a daily reminder of that, though I think we are better equipped with knowledge than they were about so many things. We can’t be in control over everything, but we are in control of some things. Make smart choices. Make everyday count.