Last week I saw a local group that I wanted to join, the word “young” was in the name but it didn’t even phase me, I’m young, I’m hip… I liked the Facebook page and then I read the info about the group and realized that I wasn’t “young” or I was just barely young because the group was for those 35 and under. Sigh. Sometimes I forget I’m 35 most days I feel closer to 25, except when I stay up to late attempting to watch Saturday Night Live and getting up with a baby at 6 am is hard.
Last year my Dad told me I was middle-aged, that really didn’t sit well with me. But here I am, middle-aged. Gulp. And it makes it hard to watch This Is Us.
Middle-aged is finding a lump on your leg and that you might be paying the price for too much fun in the sun in your 20’s. It’s making doctors appointments and the words “biopsy” and waiting for results. It’s getting test results back and being relieved to have dodges a bullet. It’s realizing you need to start paying more attention to your health.
It’s going to see your stylist every 3 weeks because the grey just won’t go away and her telling you that you might want to start lightening your hair up. It’s realizing that things like moisturizer and wrinkle cream might be more necessary than you think.
It’s having friends lose parents and being scared because you will eventually lose your own. It’s parents who are sick and getting older, and making sure that not too many days go by before you call them. It’s not getting to see them as much as you had thought you would. It’s missing them and needing them more now that you’re a parent.
It’s divorce, and not just in the “oh so and so’s parents are divorcing”. It’s your friends divorcing. Friends whose weddings your were in. Friends who you warmly toasted and danced to Friends in Low Places with. It’s seeing status updates of your friends ex and his new girl friend and feeling like you should look away. And wondering if it would just be easier to unfriend them.
It’s a questioning of how did we end up here, and an acceptance of this is where we are. It’s not always having the career you wanted. It’s the best laid plans falling apart. It’s mortgages and bills and kids and school. It’s always worrying about something, constantly wondering if you are doing enough and if you’re doing it right.
And at the end of the day, I pour a glass of wine, curl up on the couch and watch TV. In the fall I started watching This Is Us. And I loved it because, yes it is us. It’s life and it’s real and messy and hard. But week after week I find myself watching it with a sense of dread.
Like I know it’s going to emotionally gut me before I’ve even turned it on. That I know I’m going to end the episode thinking about how Jack died and why he died so young, which will lead me to think about the possibility of my kids losing a parent. And I’ll watch Randall and William and imagine what it’s like to have a parent that is dying. I’ll finish watching the show with a giant lump in my throat that doesn’t go away.
I’m a sentimental sap. I cry at commercials. I turn these episodes over in my head and replace Jack and Rebecca with my husband and I and I replace Kate, Kevin and Randall with my kids. So while I love This Is Us, reality is hard enough as it is without being reminded every week.