Sunday, August 30, 2020

When did we get old?

I started teaching a class at the law school down the street from my house last fall. It's a First Amendment class. We read a bunch of cases from the Supreme Court and then we discuss them together. I really loved teaching it last year. I felt like I was getting together twice a week to hang out with my peers and debate some really fascinating issues. 

But y'all.

I don't know. I guess I still think of myself as being the same age as the average law student. 

We were talking about the Newdow case, which is the Pledge of Allegiance case from 2004 where everyone was fighting about kids saying the Pledge at school and the words "under God," etc. We were discussing this idea that a lot of people have argued over the years in First Amendment/religion cases that some things are just so steeped in tradition and so ceremonial that they aren't really a religious act anymore. Nobody really thinks, for example, they are engaging in a religious act when they use money, even though the money says "in God we trust" on it.

So we were talking about this argument in the context of the Pledge--that people never really thought about the words "under God" when they were saying the Pledge before this case/debate happened in 2004. And I was trying to make the point that ironically, this case actually flipped that around because we all started talking about it. I said something like, "if your experience was like mine, before 2004 you probably never really thought about those words at all. Now, every time a group at a rodeo says the Pledge they almost militantly yell that part. So this case actually weakened that argument that the words are only ceremonial."

Blank stares.

Then someone reminded me that they were all like FIVE when this case happened. They had no memory of that debate. They have no memory of a world pre-that debate. 


We are not the same age!

It just occurred to me yesterday that some of my new crop of students DON'T REMEMBER 9/11. They are mostly ages 23-26. The oldest student was like six or seven when 9/11 happened.

I know I'm not saying anything new here, but aging is so . . . weird, right? As a kid I would see people in their 30s and 40s and they all seemed so old to me. I had a history professor in college who told us he was about to attend his 20-year high school reunion and I remember wondering if he could even remember people from high school since that was so long ago. 

My 20-year reunion is in two years and I feel like I just graduated high school. But I have classmates who have children who are graduating high school now. 


I sometimes look in the mirror and think I look the same as I did when I was 20. I don't feel like I've aged.

Then the other day I came across a picture from 2008 when I had signed my letter of intent to go to law school. I was 23, the age of some of my students now. I looked at it for like four minutes just thinking "when did my face get older?"

Also I wish I still had that shirt so I could see how much it absolutely does not fit me anymore.

This isn't a midlife crisis post. I'm not going through one, although I wouldn't put it past me to do that sometime a little further down the road. I'm not feeling sad about getting older. Lord knows I'm much happier at 36 than I was at 23. I'm Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes, repeatedly slamming my car into the red hot convertible driven by some sexy 20-year-old women with perms, and feeling empowered while doing it because "I'm older and I have more insurance."

So, no. I'm not sad. I'm just confused. Because one minute I was sitting around a kitchen table with my parents filling out scouting forms in 1997 and the next minute I was sitting around a kitchen table with my husband, filling out mortgage refinance forms and talking about how we really need to figure out how to get a baby soon while I've still got the energy for it.

Love all you old fogies who are doing this with me.

With liberty and justice for all.

~It Just Gets Stranger 


  1. My husband is 41 now, and I keep thinking that I am 40, too. Then I think some more and sigh with relief that I am “only 37” and then I sit and wonder when 37 became a relief? This has happened like three times since my birthday (July).

  2. I taught 8th and 9th grade on 9/ a 23 year old (don’t do the math, I’m older than you, with a child graduating high school in 2 years). I remember that morning clearly, watching the second plane go into the WTC with my 9th graders, knowing immediately the world had changed, and trying to figure out how to explain the significance to my students. I definitely did not feel old enough for the weight of that day. Fast forward to our oldest in kindergarten, in Malta (our 3rd country in FS) feeding missionaries...a missionary who was a student when I was a teacher. I felt old. But even 8 countries, 3 kids...I understand the sentiment of still feeling young. Hubby and I still feel like we did in college...then reality hits, responsibilities, children, and we are reminded we really are in our...

  3. My kid's 4th grade teacher is kind of weirdly obsessed with 9/11, so every year she shows her students the footage that horrified us all and makes them draw the scene and write some kind of "never forget" message on it. All those pictures of flaming buildings with people falling out and the words "we will never forget the day it happened" are laminated and displayed in the hall for the entire school year. It's a jarring thing to see from a bunch of 9-year-olds, but even more so when you remember that none of these kids were born yet because 9/11 was 19 years ago and most of their parents were children then.

    In other news, you look better now than you did in your 20s, and your hair looks great. If it were in any way feasible, I'd mail you my uterus today to help you grow babies with great hair.

  4. Can I just say that you and Skylar would make the prettiest babies ever to grace this earth? Can I say that? Is that allowed?

  5. My baby brother turned 25 this year, which made zero sense because wasn’t I 25 just a couple of years ago? But I’m 9 years older than him? And in my mind, the 90s were, like, 10 years ago, but actually they were more like 20-30 years ago. The aging process is weird.

  6. I could have written this. I started at my current place of work when I was 25, fresh out of grad school. I was the youngest person in our office and somehow adopted this "young person" mindset. I am now 36 and it recently dawned on me while talking to some colleagues that they were younger than me. By a decade. I am a DECADE older than some of them! How did that happen? All of a sudden people are trusting me to make important decisions instead of just following along, and someone recently came to me for my "institutional memory"! I'm young, guys, why are you asking me these things? You trust ME, this youth, to make these decisions? I just don't feel old enough to do this, even though others apparently think I am. And technology has officially surpassed me, as I struggle to figure out all the features on Zoom and Teams and WebEx. I'm happy with where I am in life, but I don't know where the time went. Or why I suddenly keep finding gray hairs popping up!

  7. My husband and I were attending a college football game and, as we walked through the quad in the way to the stadium, I looked at the kids all spread out on the grass studying and casually said that I could see us doing the same. Then he reminded me that we were old enough to have a child in college. Where has the time gone? Why do I still feel 22 years old?! (I'm 48)

  8. Some of my high school friends and I all had a zoom chat at the beginning of covid just to catch up with each other. I hadn't seen them in a few years, but last time we saw each other we all looked exactly like we had when we graduated high school in 1998. But seeing them all on the screen was surreal. They all looked the same, but kind of like their faces had been super-imposed over their moms' faces. We're all still 18 but also somehow 40. It's so weird to see that transition and know they must have seen it on me too.

  9. yo
    "in God we trust" on it.
    second quotation mark is in the wrong place

  10. I got a late start having children and you tend to end up with friends with kids the same age as your kids so I am significantly older than many of my friends. Like 8-10 years. It's often strange to talk about childhood memories and find that we do not have the same memories 😅. I'll be 40 in December, and I'm not sure how I feel about that...

  11. I started having kids in the mid 90's. I was a teen. So in my mind I am still young and hip. This is not so and this hit me a couple of years ago. At the dinner table we were talking about rotary phones. My youngest (born in 2002) was SOOOO confused. She said what is a rotary phone. We explained it and then I told her that I would show her next time we were at Grandma's house. We went to my parents house the next day and in their basement they still have a rotary phone, attached to the wall, 9 foot cord to get tangled in. I showed her how to dial and had her dial my cell phone. Her first statement was that this is taking forever followed by why do I have to stand here, why can't I go outside or something. We laughed and laughed.

    If you want to relive or have some nostalgia I suggest watching The 80's and The 90's - you can find them on Netflix.

  12. "Tawanda!" I find myself feeling the same way teaching my courses at the UofU--I have to sometimes remind myself I have a lot more life experience than these peeps in my courses. Yes, and as you get older it gets more bizarre--Your head doesn't feel any different, but your body betrays you in stupid ways and it's a "How did I get hurt doing THAT?" I am a firm believer that our brain/personality/thinking matures to our 'prime' and then stays stable while the mortal body continues to fall apart. Aging is not for sissies.

  13. I had daughter at 39 and I'm glad I didn't start any later as it can be exhausting keeping up with her!

    If you're looking at making a baby from scratch and need an agency to assist, I cannot recommend Growing Generations more highly. Excellent service from start to finish.

  14. My oldest is 15, my twins are 13, and my youngest is 10. They are in 10th, 8th, and 5th grade. I CLEARLY remember all of these years in school and cannot IMAGINE how my girls are old enough for this. I also still think of myself as 25 or 27 or something not almost 43. Glad to know this is a common phenomenon!!!

  15. I was in 8th grade when 9/11 happened. Every year my students always ask what it was like. When I tell them I was their age when it happened I always get “wows.” At first it wasn’t bad, and then it got to the point where my students weren’t even born yet and made me feel like I was some walking wonder for being alive that long. 8th graders sure know how to make you feel special!

  16. Growing older is absolutely the weirdest thing. I'm 55 and sometimes when I look in the mirror I'm super surprised at the person looking back at me. Now I have children in their mid-twenties which is a constant wonderment. I think it's because I have such clear memories of when I was their age, and how adult I was at that time of my life that it's shocking to realize they are now who I think I still am. I'm also a college teacher and when I started teaching (in 1992!!!!) I was the youngest person by far in our department and my colleagues all seemed so old. Now every single colleague I started with has retired and I am the person who has been there the longest and our last two hires are younger than my first born. Once in a while I realized that I am actually past "mid-life" and I get a scared feeling so I try not to think about it.

  17. I was in disbelief when I saw a high school classmate proudly share her oldest daughters baby gender reveal party, not because gender reveal parties are stupid (they are), but because at 41I still don’t feel old enough to be a parent, let alone a grandparent.

  18. We're almost (if not exactly) the same age (May 1984) and I had my first kid a year ago, so yeah, they are hard when you're old! My dad keeps saying "Kids are a young person's game" and I have to remind I started a full decade later than he did. It's not impossible, and I think any kid would be lucky to have you guys as dads, but maybe it's a good thing you drink coffee now. I'm not sure my daily Diet Coke is cutting it.