In some rare numerological nexus, I am ending my 30th week of pregnancy by turning 30 years old. On February 12, yikes, I am 30 years old! A milestone year met with mixed feelings. At first, birthdays were amusing, but with each passing year I've suddenly realized, "Holy S---! This is getting pretty serious!" Physically, I don't look my age yet because I'm short and haven't quite lost my childishly chubby cheeks. This can be flattering if I'm mistaken for a college student. But it's usually insulting when I neglect to wear any makeup. Solicitors come to my door and ask me if "my mommy is home" and I have been scolded by total strangers for cutting school when I'm out in the middle of the day. Sales clerks see my wedding ring and raise their eyebrow disapprovingly and comment, "Aren't you a little young to be married?" I can live with being mistaken for a teenager but a pre-pubescent girl? How depressing. Most women wear makeup to look prettier, I wear it so I don't look 12. No wonder I've been getting so many stares and strange looks now that I'm undeniably pregnant. At first I thought I was just being paranoid until my husband confirmed that, yes, people were indeed staring at me, and no, it wasn't my imagination. No doubt, everyone assumes that I am yet another pregnant, pre-adolescent statistic.
Yet despite outward physical appearances, psychologically, I definitely feel every bit my age. I don't know when and how it happened. Maybe it crept up on my little by little, but somewhere along the way, I've become old and crotchety. I'm not quite sure if it's being 30 weeks pregnant or 30 years old, or a combination of the two, but all the insidious signs and symptoms of old age are glaring. I've even compiled a list of signs that I'm definitely becoming an old biddy.
1. The fiber content of foods is a topic of conversation with friends. This could be a side effect of pregnancy because only the very old and very pregnant find bowel movements a riveting topic. But I swear, my friends and I actually discuss the best high-fiber cereals to eat and can talk at length about color, consistency and frequency of poo. Part of it is a constant need to gross each other out, which is ironically, very immature. But mostly it's a kind of shock that our gastro-intestinal systems aren't made of cast iron like we once believed they were. Eating chili fries at 3 am after drinking all night suddenly has very ugly consequences.
2. Sleep is more important than having fun. In my college days, sleep was just one of those annoying habits that got in the way of partying, studying and sex. I must have lived happily on two to three hours of sleep. Now, sleep is what I live for. Maybe I'm still trying to pay back that astronomical sleep deficit, but if I could build an altar around my bed, I would.
3. I worry about being cold and others being cold. I used to be one of those young girls who wore halter-tops and spaghetti straps or mini-skirts out at night without a sweater. Now that my bones are old and creaky, I find the prospect of going anywhere without a sweater, frankly, terrifying. What if the air conditioning is cranked too high at the mall or movie theater? Not only do I worry about being cold, I remind other people to "bring a sweater, just in case" like some nagging, suburban mom.
4. I have life insurance and a mortgage. That is self-explanatory.
5. I wonder about kids today. When I see the way these Britney Spears' wannabes dress, I shake my head disapprovingly and lament about the moral decline of today's youth and lack of fashion sense. (As if dressing like Madonna was the height of taste and decorum when I was that age). But still, when I catch myself being scandalized by the scantily-clad girls under 12, I realize that I am one tiny step away from being one of those grumpy old geezers you see shaking their fists angrily and impotently at kids.
6. I hate people. Getting older definitely put me in touch with my misanthropic side. I will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid rush hour traffic and crowds. I do all my grocery shopping at midnight because it's the least crowded time. I love matinee movies because the theaters are empty. Now that I'm old, time is more precious than ever and every nanosecond that can be spared from standing in line is my life's pursuit. By the way, if you're ever driving around in L.A., that angry little Asian girl in the Ford Explorer with a nasty case of road rage is I.
7. I am now the ultimate Valley Girl. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and loathed it. In my youth, this suburban utopia of mini-malls, smog and chain stores smote my soul. But after years of living in the urban sprawl of the San Francisco Bay Area and metropolitan Los Angeles, I now appreciate the simpler charms of suburbia. My house has a backyard, there's plenty of parking and there's less people everywhere. What more can an old crank like me ask for?
8. I screen all my calls. I used to live my life blabbing on the phone. Now the phone is my enemy. Voice mail, caller ID, answering machines and e-mail are all technology weapons I employ in my war against incoming phone calls. I love my friends, but rarely have time for chit chat anymore. Every time the phone rings, I prowl around it suspiciously, trying to decide to pick up and rehearsing my "surprised but pleased" reaction when I do. I wonder if I'm really in danger of becoming an old hermit.
9. I have too many cats. I have three cats. I don't quite know how this happened, but the fact that I have a husband and a baby on the way, just barely saves me from being an old cat lady. You know, wearing the stained housedress, curlers in her hair, and with 50 cats, living in unimaginable squalor.
10. If it's not comfortable, I won't wear it. This new revelation, more than anything, proves that I'm getting old. Gone are the days when I sacrificed comfort for fashion. Life's too short to be uncomfortable. I worry that I'm going to turn into one of those frumpy moms with a short, no-nonsense PTA mom haircut and wearing that suburban uniform of leggings and long T-shirts.
Although growing older is a badge of honor as well as a source of anxiety, having a baby has eased the sting for me. Even though turning 30 and having a baby makes me feel as adult as I'll ever be, I'm grateful I had my roaring 20's to myself and that I got to have as much fun as I did. Even though I'm turning into an old fart, I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.