My birthday is Thursday, Jan. 23. It’s one of those milestone years that I am turning when celebrants take a cruise, jump out of an airplane for a first skydive, or throw a party. I voted for the party which will be discussed later, but for now, back to that “milestone.”
My newly turning numerical value is either an age to be proud of or horrified. Presently I am unsure in which direction the scale is tipping. It is different for women. We lose more as we get older versus men. Our ability to have children goes away while men can keep procreating, as did the late Senator Strom Thurmond, who fathered children into his mid-70s. I don’t think any women have duplicated that feat since Sarah in The Bible birthed Isaac at age 89, or so it says.
I didn’t have children and it is unlikely I will be the next “Sarah.” As an only child, and offspring of another only child, I will probably regret that void. When I reach my mother’s age, there won’t be any adult children to assist me or aged siblings. Writing that twice-yearly check for long term care insurance hurts, but is the price one pays for being childless and single. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that raising an American child to the age of 18 costs a staggering $241,080, according to August 2013 statistics. Maybe those January/July insurance premiums aren’t so bad after all.
As a counselor working with troubled kids, several commonalities seem to repeatedly appear among my clients, which are both sad and worrisome. Most of my caseload lacks fathers. These absentee parents are either deceased, jailed or the mothers are unsure of which one-night-stand-boyfriend was the “lucky” winner. For every female client, I have ten males. The boys are either angry or apathetic. Most are flunking school. A few wear their pants too low and already sport an armful of tattoos. The majority have aspirations to play in the NFL. School is not important. Sports will be their life-long lottery ticket.
Considering how many want to be affiliated with a team, the NFL should start expanding fast, very fast, to each of the approximately 600 U.S. cities with a population of more than 50,000. Paralleling major league baseball, the NFL needs a “farm team” system to absorb the influx of young men who are presently throwing their studies off a cliff, with short-sighted aspirations of becoming a football legend.
Recently I visited a high school outside of Delaware where an acclaimed actress is as an alumna. I can only think that times have drastically changed since she graduated, as students roamed the halls during classes without supervision, and gang-violence is reputed. The boys proudly displayed what plaid was chosen that day for their boxers, while the females showed their curves via leggings versus pants, and cleavage–revealing sleeveless blouses seem to be “the uniform,” even though the temperature outside hovered below freezing. By the time I departed, I was unsure “who was running the asylum.”
Maybe it is a good that I didn’t have children. After visiting and witnessing the sad state of this suburban high school, I might have kept any offspring locked in their rooms and homeschooled versus allowing them to attend such an academic debacle.
And finally, back to the “milestone” birthday party. I realized Saturday evening that being a hostess is tedious. As a pseudo-perfectionist, I wanted everything just right so the attendees would have a great time, obsessed about any potential disasters, and over-purchased enough food and adult beverages that I will never need to buy wine again.
Taking the cruise instead, would have been easier, less stressful, and more economical. A close friend came from out-of-state 500 miles away, but approximately 25 people who RSVP’d and live nearby, were “no-shows.” Maybe they had last-minute invitations to attend Michelle Obama’s big birthday bash of that same evening. Not sure what I will say to the collective absentees except for asking if they forgot, their dog ran away, or if a better offer trumped mine.
Since when have we become so lax as a society that accepting and committing to an invitation has no significance? At least I have one reliable close friend who traveled 500 miles to attend, and is also an only child with no offspring. Maybe we are lucky since worrying about our children in the mix of that unnamed high school, would give us both collective ulcers and more gray hair than either of us possess presently.
Getting old isn’t that bad. It is just a question of who will take care of us later. Probably one of my female clients whom I referenced earlier, since most of the males will be playing for the “Akron Arrows,” “Dayton Dragons,” or with one of those other 598 proposed farm teams somewhere within the NFL.
Mariann Main is a Licensed Counselor and a Delaware native. Her column appears weekly on Wednesdays. To submit a question and have Mariann answer it anonymously, send mail to the Delaware Gazette office, 40 N. Sandusky St., Suite 203, Delaware, OH 43015.