Lately I'm paying more attention to health news.
This is, alas, an undeniable sign of aging, simply because this is what people who are getting older do: They begin to fret about their health.
(Although, to be candid, I don't believe I'm really entitled to say “they,'' anymore. I think I mean “we,'' as in: We begin to worry about our health.)
And so it is that I'll turn my attention to any news account of this or that health-related study.
What's the right amount of vitamin E supplementation? Which form of calcium is better absorbed? Is 30 minutes of daily exercise really enough? Is it still valuable even when divided into shorter sessions? Can the proper diet really stave off age-related memory loss? And don't even get me going about the recent hormone-replacement therapy news.
Here is all that I - in my ignorance-induced state of aging - really want to know: Do I or do I not need to (fill in the blank with suggestions arising from whatever is this week's media-hyped health study)?
As it happens, I am scientifically flabbergasted again after reading an Associated Press recap of a study that appears in the current Journal of the American Medical Association.
Let me just quote the opening paragraph for you:
“Though old enough to be grandmas, there's no medical reason healthy women in their 50s should be prevented from having babies with donated eggs, according to the largest study of motherhood after menopause.''
Please do not get me wrong on this: Being a mother is the single biggest blessing I've ever enjoyed.
But even now, while merely in my very late 40s, I can say without hesitation that there is nothing in this world to convince me that getting pregnant, giving birth, and starting all over again to raise another human being from scratch is in any way a good idea.
Motherhood is, for lack of a better word, hard.
It demands endurance, chocolate, stamina, chocolate, and self-discipline. It demands not just the ability but the willingness to soldier on in the face of overwhelming odds, i.e., running out of chocolate and running on too little sleep.
It demands, in other words, significant quantities of pricey under-eye concealer.
Motherhood is a young woman's sport. Or, at the very least, a younger woman's sport.
When I'm in my 50s, I do not want to receive my copy of Modern Maturity magazine on the same day that the current issue of My New Baby shows up in the mailbox.
I do not want my college-aged child to come home for the holidays to my assisted-living studio apartment.
I do not want to contend with a scheduling conflict between parent-teacher conferences and the early fare specials at Bob Evans.
I do not want to sit with my child and watch Mr. Rogers, only to find his gray hair and cardigan strangely exciting.
I do not want to hear my husband say, “Uh-oh! Looks like someone didn't get their nap today!'' and be uncertain as to whether he's referring to the baby's crankiness or mine.
And I do not believe any toddler should have to suffer a parent whose bicycle also requires training wheels.