Lifespan Development. It's the name of a class I'm currently enrolled in. Which means it spans not only embryonic and child development, but also middle and old age (also known as middle and late adulthood, in case you were wondering.) All the way to death. If that doesn't sound like a depressing class to take in your 40s, let me assure you that it is. First of all, the chapters on Emotional and Social Development in Childhood serve as nothing but a reminder that you did it all wrong. All of it. Proper play interactions. Discipline. Educational learning experiences. Nutrition. Everything. Oops.
But it really isn't until you get into the Middle Adulthood chapters that you just want to give up entirely. Because it may be the most disheartening information that you have ever seen. I say "seen" because you already KNOW these things. But let me tell you, seeing the words in cold, hard print? Well, it just makes it that much worse. Take for instance this little gem I read in the Early Adulthood chapter. "Once your body structures reach their maximum capacity and efficiency, senescence begins." That doesn't sound so bad, right? I mean, senescence, that's a pretty word. What does it mean, though? Biological aging. Which pretty much means that after your early 20s, you've hit your physical peak and your body begins the slow process of completely falling apart. Strength, endurance, sensory acuteness, even immune system responsiveness? All in complete decline. For the rest of your life. So all those funny Over the Hill jokes and party favors you save for a 40th or 50th birthday? Yep. You should be pulling those bad boys out for the big 2-4. Cuz it's all downhill from there.
Then come the Middle Adulthood chapters. First, you have to wrap your mind around the fact that at 40+, you are considered middle-aged. I know they say that 40 is the new 30, but Dr. Laura E. Berk says otherwise. I mean, I'm not dumb. I am perfectly aware that I do not have the energy, strength, metabolism, resilience, or complexion of a 20 or 30 year old. I know. But that doesn't mean I need to be reminded. And I know it's all just biological and psychological facts, but it's still kinda mean.
And apparently just about everything is worse if you're a woman. Go figure.
So for those days when I don't already feel my age, here are some wonderful things I have to look forward to in this new decade of my life:
*Deterioration of vision and hearing.
*Sagging skin and visible blood vessels. And because the dermis of women is not as thick as that of men, women's skin ages more rapidly. Of course it does.
*Loss of muscle.
*Accumulation of fat. Again: gains of about 6-16% body fat for men, 25-35% for women.
*Osteoporosis. Yep, women's bone mineral reserves are lower than men's to begin with.
*Menopause. I don't have to tell you that's only a woman thing, too, right? But don't worry, there's always hormone therapy. Which might kill you. Or just double your risk of dementia.
*Loss of cognitive processing speed and ability.
*And the decline of creative accomplishment.
To name a few.
So what is my point in sharing all of this hopelessly depressing information with you? Well, first off, misery does love it some company. Second, as a warning to never take this class. (Plus, I've just given you an entire semester's worth of information in a few short minutes. So now you don't have to. You're welcome.) Third, I never share the bad without also sharing the good. So here's the upside:
*Vision and hearing loss clearly mean I can ignore people I don't want to listen to, AND I have a perfectly valid excuse for my gross shower. Mildew? I don't see any.
*My skin's already completely shot, so what's another hour by the pool in the sun? Plus, I think my extra thin dermis warrants more massages.
*Too weak to carry children. And groceries.
*Can I please gain that 25-35% just from KFC? I could eat some fried chicken.
*One word: milkshakes. I hear they're chock-full of calcium.
*Menopause: Um, do I have to say it?
*Sorry I can't help you with your homework, kiddos. Mommy can't think anymore.
*Now you now why I have no Pinterest boards.
Add up all of those bright sides. Now factor in the reality that we are already in the process of dying...I mean, what better excuse to live each day like it's your last?
So, I'm gonna go ahead and seize the day. If my soon-to-be veiny & arthritic hands can keep a hold of it, that is.