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Middle-age pain knocks out teenage angst

Just the other day, I woke up and was surprised by how stiff and sore my muscles were. I didn’t remember doing anything out of the ordinary or strenuous the day before.

Then my husband reminded me that I had spent some time atop a ladder working on a project in the garage.

It dawned on me that I’m not as young as I used to be. Things that never would have bothered me are starting to take their toll. It’s nothing serious, but just enough to let me know that sometimes I might need to slow down a bit.

Funny, I don’t feel older. Other than the numbers changing at the end of the year whenever I write dates, I feel much the same as I did a decade or two or three ago.

I even have days when I walk into my home and feel like I’m just a kid playing house.

It’s only those occasional aches and pains — and a few stray gray hairs I see when I look in the mirror — that let me know how much time has passed since I became “an adult.”

And I have no idea when my babies became young women. It seems as if it was just yesterday that I was rocking them to sleep in my arms.

Although there are days when I reluctantly admit that I’m getting older — and those are few and far between — I wouldn’t trade all my aches and pains and problems and responsibilities for the chance to be a teenager again. (I might consider going back to my late 20s or early 30s, but that’s another story.)

Sure, some parts of being a teenager are great. There’s a lot less responsibility, and no car, insurance or mortgage/rent payments to worry about. Food seems to magically appear in the fridge and on the dinner table each night. Dirty clothes also seem to magically clean themselves and find their way to the closet.

There’s also plenty of time to hang out with friends, watch movies, go to the mall or enjoy countless other activities.

You never seem to get tired. With youth comes boundless energy and the desire to get up and do things at any time of the day or night.

Money is never an issue either. It’s not that it grows on trees, but mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, or other relative always seem to have a few dollars to spare.

Even school and its piles of homework wasn’t too bad — at least not in hindsight.

But being a teenager also is a scary time of life. Stuck between being a child and an adult, you don’t fit into either world. I remember how awkward it was trying to find a place to fit in.

There were also lots of decisions to make — decisions that would have lifelong implications such as if and where to go to college after high school, figuring out a major and entering the workforce for the first time.

Fellow teenagers also can be mean and petty. The stories I hear about the goings on and drama at the high school my kids attend are awful.

If you don’t fit into one of the cliques, or have different tastes in music or clothes, you can find yourself ostracized. That can be traumatic.

Wanting the things that older people have and with hormones bouncing all over the place, teens experiment with relationships, which can be treacherous territory. Emotions run high and things can get out of hand quickly. One look at the wrong boy/girl and suddenly someone’s entire entourage is out to get you.

Then there are those who like to tease and torment, especially if they know you have a button that can be pushed.

Sure, there are plenty of good teenagers. Those who excel academically and manage to stay out of the drama — as much as possible.

But I don’t miss it, or envy them.

A few aches and pains are worth the security that comes with years of experience. And I can always count on my new friend, Mr. Aspirin, to make life a little easier.

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