In my younger years I coached three seasons of high school running. I easily spent 20 hours a week with teen aged girls. I knew all the songs and all the popular TV shows. I was also infused with their energy and zest for life.
My twenty years as CHS Girls XC Coach were wonderful.
During the bulk of those years, I was teaching elementary school special education. I spent my days with antsy active anxious children. They were awesome! My time was spent creating ways to engage them and help them learn. I often say a 10-year-old with ADHD is my spirit animal. At days end I had spent almost 12 hours with children, none of whom, were old enough to vote.
Are you a kid or a grown-up?
My niece Kelsey once asked me that question. I was around thirty and she was around three. I often describe myself as a wrinkly kid. In the years since Molly died, I have withdrawn socially. Those who know me now would say I am very social, but I no longer go out at night for dinner or drinks with friends. I don’t go to movies or events. I am a homebody.
Maybe this is because I am almost sixty.
Having a child at 57 has plopped me into the world of the thirty somethings, I love it! Every generation has its unique ideas about parenting and diet, activities and social perceptions. I teach and learn in every conversation. I am learning to live in the moment and practice mindful thinking. This gives me space to observe and participate in motherhood in a very different way than when I had Molly and Gracie.
Although I am twenty-five to thirty years older than these mums, we are more similar than different.
One of my closer friends in life is Bethany. I met her when she was seven. She came to Walker School where I was teaching. We run Barb’s Track Camp together, we share struggles and celebrations. I could be her mother, and in fact am close in age to her. I imagine I will have more women in their 30’s and 40’s in my life over the years. Jack will be in activities and school and I am his mother.
My body is another aspect of age that intrigues me.
The obvious differences are my physical abilities in athletics. Female bodies are hormonal machines. First comes puberty, then the menstruation, ovulation dance begins. After that the baby growing and lactating years and lastly, menopause and the frantic rollercoaster of hormonally caused symptoms. As an athlete these physical attributes are not helpful. They have to be managed, mitigated and worked with.
I have had a strange relationship with my hormones.
As a pre-teen my sexual abuse caused a pause in my sexual development. I didn’t start my period until I was almost 15. As an elite distance runner. I maintained a very thin physique. While many of my teammates lost their periods altogether due to this, mine were always present. I think it is because I was so thin when I started. I had really heavy ones every 28-32 days. Birth control ended up being extremely helpful and was a part of my medicine regime throughout my twenties and thirties.
Then I turned 40!
Creating, growing and nursing Molly and Gracie came easily to me. I loved all physical aspects of it. I have never been as amazed by my body as I was during this time. As I approached fifty and beyond, I noticed subtle changes in my athletic performance, muscle definition and weight. I got this little belly. I believe I would have sailed through menopause had Molly not died. The trauma of her death had (and continues to have) a profound effect on me physically.
Through out all of this I remained a high-level CrossFit athlete.
Compared to women my age I am strong and fast. But me being me, I like to compare myself to those thirty somethings. I do alright! I was an elite runner as a young adult and while I could still be quite fast if I had continued, running performance declines rapidly for women as they age. It is more subtle in the CrossFit setting as there are several aspects of fitness involved in every workout. Since I began CrossFit at age 47, I do not have weights and times from 20-year-old Barb.
But wait! There’s more!
I was able to have a baby at 57. This was perhaps my biggest challenge physically. Not the pregnancy itself, but actually being able to take my post-menopausal body, infuse it with estrogen and progesterone and then grow a baby. Two years out and I am still nursing Jack and I do that all by myself. I have not had hormone supplements since week 13 of my pregnancy.
So then, what does age have to do with it?
For the most part nothing. We are all different and not all 57-year-old women can have babies. Not all 17-year-old girls can break five minutes in the mile. Not all 60 years olds hang out with women in their thirties. Having said that age is an important piece of the physical and emotional reality of women and girls. While we all need time with our peer groups, we also need time together.
I have always said I was gifted with the perfect soul house. This body in which I live is ideal for my interests. While I often look every bit my age, I just as often do not. I certainly out perform most of my peer group and love to challenge myself against the smooth skinned muscle machines with their younger joints, tendons, and mobility.
At the end of the day, I just love being me.
A wrinkle kid about to close out her 6th decade as a human. I think I’ll go deadlift 250 pounds.