Sunday, March 05, 2006

I'm Okay, You're Okay



It's no coincidence that under the heading Cruisin-mom, are the words: "ramblings of a 50 year old".

Turning 50 is significant, a milestone, a road marker, if you will. Now, I really didn't do anything extraordinary to get here. Lot's of people turn 50. I'm well aware of that.

But when it happens to you, you tend to take notice.

I like to kid alot about looking good and having a funny personality, for someone 50, that is.

Make no mistake. All of that is bravado. It's the swagger I display to cover up what's really there.

What's really there, you ask? Well, where do I begin?

If you look back to my post about myself and David Letterman, that might provide the first clue. How good can a little girl feel when her teeth enter a room before she does? (My luck. Some women have their breasts enter a room before they do. Nope, not me. ME?...teeth.)

I was ridiculously shy growing up. Heaven forbid a teacher call on me in class. It was all I could do not to be noticed. Just try doing that with those teeth.

I quietly forged along, never feeling very good inside, or out, for that matter. I'm not alone in those feelings, I know that. Many kids grow up feeling low and wondering what and who they will become.

What is self-esteem anyway? How do you achieve a healthy dose of it? Some think it comes from parents telling their children how wonderful they are.

In the 80's, a trend began, to give every child on a team a trophy, whether or not they won the game; whether or not a child achieved excellence. The thought was, that no child should feel like a "loser".

Around this time, our school district spent thousands of dollars to change the report card format. Instead of the usual A,B,C, D, and F...the children were to be graded with S=Satisfactory; N=Needs Improvement; or E=Excellent. The teachers were ready to lose their minds. Their work load was significantly increased, and all for...WHAT?

So our children wouldn't have low self-esteem when they saw a D on their report card. Apparently, an N is much easier to swallow. While this was all well-intentioned...it wasn't realistic. The world is a competitive place. If you want to get ahead, you must work hard and achieve.

The report card was a big flop and changed back to the regular format the following year.

While it's true that children need to hear positive feedback from the people who love them...there truly is no substitute for personal achievement.

My mother could have told me I was wonderful until we were both blue in the face and my teeth fell off. But here is the truth...

Until I began sticking my neck out, working hard, taking risks, and seeing myself achieve...there was nothing anyone could have said to raise my self-esteem.

There is no substitute for personal achievement...plain and simple.

And, so throughout my 20's, 30's and 40's...I worked hard to do things that would increase my "left-over" view of myself from childhood. I began forcing myself to speak in front of groups; conversing with people I might have been terrified to speak with years ago; confronting new and scary situations, and finding I could survive.

So, that brings me here...to 50. I feel pretty good. Now I can stand up before a group to speak without the worry that my teeth arrived and began speaking first. (okay, a little orthodonture helps)

I can sit here and tell myself (and you) I'm funny, because, even if I'm really not...who cares, I'm 50.

As for how I look at 50?...it doesn't really matter.

Because every line on my face, every inch of cellulite, every age spot (which, by the way, are great for playing connect the dots when you're bored) all add up to one thing...

They are the road map to my life. I've earned each and every one of those wrinkles and spots.

They are what give me the self-esteem to say (translation: to be completely delusional)...
Hey, I look great for 50, and I'm funny as hell.

(Besides, you don't know what I really look like...so what's a little lie among friends?)

24 comments:

Wendy said...

I'll bet you do look great & I know you are funny as hell!
Cheers!

torontopearl said...

Did you ever stop to think that you'd have a kind of fan club when you turned 50? That's what your reading audience is in essence -- you're standing up and talking to us, telling us heartfelt stories and funny or quirky stories and we're lovin' them, believing you to definitely be funny and worth listening to.

But I have a twist to offer on your title: "I'm Okay, *YOU'RE* FIFTY!!!"

I know from shyness and trying to make yourself unnoticed...my, how far we have both come in our lives.

Regina Clare Jane said...

I'm not too far from 50 myself- a good 4 years to go. And you know what- I feel better about myself than I have in a long time- in fact, since I can't remember when! You are a wonderful inspiration to me, cruisin-mom- you live your life, you share your life, you revel in your life. That's what it's all about! I actually think you brought out my funny side on my blog! Plus, I am sure you look darn good, heck, 50 is a young babe thses days! I just love you!

Regina Clare Jane said...

P.S- I LOVE that picture! She looks so much fun!

Ezzie said...

Happy Birthday!! (Since nobody else did it...)

Ezer K'negdo said...

Personal acheivement is where it's at - it is why "Good Job" is such a hollow thing to say to a child. THEY know whether or not they did a good job - they don't need me to tell them, and when they kick butt, the good feeling comes from other people acknowledging their HARD WORK, rather than lavish praise. By saying "Boy, did you work hard!" acknowledges what it took to get them their - not just the final product, which IMHO, is where the major focus should be - that working hard gets you somewhere. ok, sorry about the soapbox! that just struck a chord w/me. Sounds like you are really LIVING life, rather than just watching it pass by - i aspire to that! And you are, really, really funny!

Jack's Shack said...

50 used to sound really old, now not so much.

cruisin-mom said...

Wendy: Thanks! But quite frankly, you crack me up!

T.P.: A fan club?...oh, the pressure!

RCJ: I think the 40's for women are a decade, you definitely feel more at peace with yourself...so imagine 50...you're about ready to fall asleep!. If I've inspired you to be funnier on your blog, then I must say, I've done a good job! What a great compliment. (I love that pic too)

Ezzie: thanks! Actually it was a few months ago, but i'm still accepting gifts.

E.K.: don't mind the soapbox at all. The comments is the place to say something about what strikes you here. I'm glad it touched a cord in you. Sounds like you know just what to do with your kids to help them grow.

Jack: Comes faster than you know...did you ever think you'd almost be 40?

Ezzie said...

Oh - guess I was wrong... does babke count?

cruisin-mom said...

Ezzie: only if it's a chocolate one

Jack's Shack said...

I never worried about turning 40, or any age for that matter.

Some of the changes that have come have been a little weird. The mental picture I have of myself in my head is around 19 or 20, sometimes it is a little shocking to see the older guy in the mirror.

But for the most part, it is not that big a deal to me.

Mia said...

I would never guess the age of my blog friends if they wouldn't tell. It is really hard - at least for me. To me, all of you sound like you're my age (early 30's) - I hope I will be like you Cruisin_mom and Pearl when I turn your age!!! And happy Birthday btw, when is/was the big day??

cruisin-mom said...

Jack: actually I loved turning 40 and turning 50. It is quite liberating.

Mia: thanks for the nice compliment, although Pearl is only mid-forties...still a baby.

Sweettooth120 said...

Wow, Randi, when Ezzie said Happy Birthday, I thought, "No Way, not only do we have a lot in common, but we now share the same birthday, this is some karma." Today I turned 39 and though I do have to admit, it's really hard for me to swallow this and the realization that I will be 40 next year, today's post has help a lot in realizing the best is yet to come!

Happy Belated Birthday (a few months late.) I can still send you those cookies. : )

Ezer K'negdo said...

CM: Yeah, I wish it were that simple. I sometimes feel like Mr. EK and i are barely keeping our heads above water when it comes to not screwing up the kinder. I think if Columbine had not happened in the first year of my first child's life, we might have a different perspective. Between Columbine and being in the NYC area on Sept. 11th, we feel i think more overprotective than lots of other parents where we live now. But, you know, your post was about you being 50 so I will stop talking about this now.

So 35 was the big "OMG" for me. Don't know why (perhaps b/c i was in labor w/#2 on my 30th bday, so i had other things on my mind at that moment other than "OMG I'm 30" it was more like "OMG when is this little f*#@$r coming out"). But I spent a lot of 35 flipping out and sturm and drang about "where is my life going?" "what have i done with my life" "what is the meaning of life or my life" type of stuff. It really caused me to re-evaluate a lot in my life, and ended up fairly productive, if dramatic! Don't know how 40 is going to pan out, except i'll be planning a bar mitvah, so maybe i won't have time to think about it! I am glad you are enjoying 50 - one should try to live in the moment whatever age. this is something i am not always successful at but try really hard to do. I know too many bitter hags (irregardless of age - i know a 32 year old hag - sorry, not a nice word but that is how i feel) who seem to enjoy being miserable and whining over the "shouldhaves couldhaves wouldhaves". You, CM are an inspiration - you seem to find the humor and humanity in your life, and the lives and world around you!

cruisin-mom said...

E.K. first of all, my post was about turning 50 but also about self-esteem. (so it's okay to talk about the kinder and the fears of raising them...believe me, I understand)
I don't see anything wrong with re-evaluating and questioning your life at any stage...in fact, I think it's imperative. Otherwise, you're stagnant.
As for humor, without it, I'd be dead in the water. It is what keeps my marriage going and quite frankly, my psyche going. Without it, you can forget raising kids!
What I've learned about raising kids...is that everything you think you have control over, like who and what they will become...FORGET it!
And not a day goes by that I don't question my parenting skills, what I could have done differently.
As far as being an inspiration, well thanks, that's such a nice compliment...but while you are thinking I'm an inspiration, just remember, I yell at my kids, I forget to compliment my husband, probably not always the greatest friend, and I don't cook every night! (But I am really funny, no, really!)

Ezer K'negdo said...

So true about not controlling the outcome of your kids - I was an "out of the box" type of kid, not exactly fitting in to what "other girls or other kids" were doing etc, and there was (and still is) a good amount of grief about that from my mom in particular, although both of my parents tend towards negative and critical. My husband had an even more extreme childhood, so both of us are super-concious of trying to guide our kids positively and constructively, as well as morally/values/jewishly but not placing expectations on them as far as who or what they will be/become. Becoming a yiddishe mensche is good enough for us. that does not mean we don't expect our children to live up to and/or exceed their abilities, just that we aren't micro-managing their childhood in a particular direction. if one of my kids goes to Harvard, great. if one decides to open a salon, great. if one becomes a stay at home dad, great! as long as they become productive, thoughtful, useful members of their own families and society, i have done my job. not everyone sees things this way, but this works for us. I might lose my mind in the process, but hey, insanity comes with the territory! :-)

cruisin-mom said...

S.T.: HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Remember to eat lot's of chocolate and lot's of icecream. Afterall, in the end, that's all that really matters...Enjoy your day!

E.K.: I think you and the Rabbi, have a good attitude. Try to maintain it even when you are ready to pull your hair out. (I haven't pulled my hair out yet, but there's plenty of gray under my beautiful dye job!)

Stacey said...

Happy Birthday, CM! And may you have another 50 more.

35 sucked for me. And 40 probably will be, too, but it sure beats the alternative.

Happy Birthday to you, too, Jaime!

Stacey said...

Oops, belated birthday I should say, CM!!!

cruisin-mom said...

Thanks Stacey, and you may feel differently when you actually hit 40.

Sweettooth120 said...

Thanks Stacey and Randi. This has been a fantastic birthday with lots of celebrating, lots of eating and great bday gifts.

PsychoToddler said...

Happy 100th anniversary, Strong Bad!

cruisin-mom said...

P.T.: I'm so old, I had to "google" Strong Bad...sigh