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I don’t spend much time thinking about the differences between lived experiences of adjacent generations of women. Sure, the differences between women who grew up in the 50s versus the 90s are easy to compare. But the differences between groups of women separated by only 20 or 25 years are a little harder to see.
When the Aziz Ansari story broke earlier this week, it was as if women 45 and older were reading a completely different story than younger women were. No one seems to dispute what happened. I think everyone believes “Grace”. But whether you were in the Bad Date camp or the Assault camp seemed to be largely determined by age.
This post isn’t about that. It’s not about Aziz Ansari or #MeToo or #TimesUp. But it got me thinking about how different it is to be a middle-aged woman in 2018 versus being a younger one.
I’m not bashing millennials. Not even a little bit. Nor am I yelling at them to get off my lawn. They’re welcome on my lawn anytime!
I’m just glad I’m not one. Here’s why:
1. I never had to plan a gender reveal party.
Y’all, what even is this?
Why? Why are folks doing this?
When I had my first daughter, who’s now 21, WE — her parents! — didn’t even know her gender until the moment she was born. What? I figured if I’m gonna do all this work, I’d like to have a surprise at the end. So gender reveal parties are just one of those things I totally don’t get. Frankly, it seems like a thinly-veiled excuse for presents and Instagram flossing.
2. I never had to talk to little kids about pussy-grabbing or shithole countries.
I just . . . I don’t . . . I can’t . . . I mean, I really have no idea what to say about this. I can’t imagine what it’s like raising younger children in 2018.
I suppose it would have been tough to explain “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” if my daughter asked questions about it. But you can save all that “What about Bill Clinton?!” bullshit. The chasm between that and ALL OF THIS is difficult to even fathom.
I’m sorry, y’all. That’s got to be really tough.
3. The men I’ve been with did not grow up on free Internet porn.
This could be an entire post on its own. I’m not saying guys had no exposure to porn. I’m just saying that it wasn’t available 24 hours a day in the comfort of one’s home. Even guys 10 or 12 years younger than me* had to go buy a magazine or a DVD. And the variety was pretty limited by today’s standards.
In general, I think the expanding definition of what’s “normal” when it comes to sex is a really good thing. But I’m not sure the proliferation of porn is enhancing real life sex for women. The things I hear from young women are jaw-dropping. The things they’re expected to do. And to be “cool with”. If they’re into it, great. But it seems many are not and yet they’re subverting their own desires to satisfy someone who expects them to behave like a porn star.
It’s gross and it makes me sad.
(*This is my way of letting you know I can pull younger dudes. IN CASE YOU MISSED THAT.)
4. We didn’t know smoking was bad for you.
LOL. Just kidding! Of course we knew it was terrible. But we could do it without other people looking at us like we were stomping kittens. It was fun.
5. I don’t have to make my life Insta-worthy.
The loudest voice in my head is the one that unfavorably compares everything about me to someone who’s doing everything better while having more and looking gorgeous. And that’s always been true. It’s not healthy. I’m still working on it.
But when I was young, I compared myself only to people I actually knew or to people who were famous enough to be in magazines. I didn’t have access to Insta-perfect lives; to people who are neither famous nor personally known to me but who somehow have a worldwide audience that enthusiastically covets the look of their curated lives.
Blerg. Nope. Do not want.
Also, R.I.P. Big Ang.
6. There is no record of my public or private shenans.
The other day, I saw a video on Twitter of a guy getting a blow job on a parking lot shuttle. You could clearly see his face. I felt extreme, painful, cringey secondhand embarrassment for everyone involved.
Should these people have been engaging in public mouth love? Absolutely not. But, damn! They also don’t deserve to have their (probably drunken) antics broadcast all over the world because someone whipped out their phone! Just think about things you’ve done in a public or semi-private place. If you feel no embarrassment or shame, you’re probably not the kind of person who would find this blog interesting and why are you even reading it?
I’m eternally grateful that there is no record of my, um, more impulsive years.
7. The music of my youth was actually GOOD.
I KID! Every single generation says their music was better. And it’s never true!
What is true is that it’s important for younger people to make music that does not appeal to the Olds. That’s how it works! Oh, Migos is trash? You don’t “get” Cardi B? Guess what? It’s not about you! Have at it, kids. This is your time.
(Fun fact: if you open your mind, there is good music everywhere, all the time.)
8. Fucks-to-give supply levels are dangerously low.
Like, dropping a little every day.
9. When I got married, the wedding industrial complex was just a glimmer in capitalism’s eye.
Sooo, y’all know there’s an entire billion-dollar industry devoted to convincing you that you have exactly ONE day in your life when you get to be a pretty, pretty princess, right? A whole bunch of businesses make their money solely by coaxing you into believing that $35,000 is a reasonable amount to spend on a party.
I had the first manicure of my life on my wedding day. I got my dress at a store in Underground Atlanta. The rings were silver, $35 each, and we bought them at some store in Toco Hills Plaza. Our cake was homemade. The ceremony was in a family friend’s front yard and the reception was out back. (Business in the front, party in the back — aaayyye!)
And it was amazing. It was so beautiful and so special and so fun and my marriage lasted a long, long time.
Y’all. Don’t let this industry take all your money!
10. I’m more open to possibility than ever before.
And here’s where it gets a little serious.
A little over four years ago, I fell completely and totally in love. It happened in the loveliest, most unexpected way.
(Note: After typing that, I spent several minutes staring into space thinking about how incredible it was.)
Ok, I’m back.
It was magic. The man, the way it happened, how it made me feel — it still takes my breath away.
For a few complicated reasons, it ultimately didn’t work out. The pain of that is still a little raw. But the fact that it happened at all, that it happened at 46 years old, when I wasn’t looking and I never saw it coming? It still kind of blows my mind. And one of the things that made it so special was that this man saw me, saw as true a version of me as any person could, and I was loved and adored anyway.
When we met, I felt like I’d sort of done it all and the rest would be, honestly, kind of downhill. I’m embarrassed to say that but it’s true. I’d been married, my kids were growing up and away, I’d had a couple careers. But he believed and he made me believe that there was so much more life to coming to me. It changed the way I see the world. I know now that magical things can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
I don’t love everything about being fifty years old. I wish I’d worn more bikinis. I wish I’d saved more and bought less. But there’s a lot to be grateful for. All the time.
And who knows what’s to come?