Getting old is not like getting pregnant — a poem about ageism

Chocolate bunny with apple

Chocolate bunny with an apple: highly allegorical illustration for a poem about being not pregnant but elderly

Preparing for old age is scary
scarier than getting pregnant
twenty thousand miles from home.
Now my body has to face
the prospect of extreme old age.

What scares me most is the unknown
and so I study hard.
But hey, old age is not like pregnancy
One ends with life, one ends with death
and when I said I’m getting old,
nobody said to me, “How lovely!
Is this your first old age?
When is it due?”

Oh no, they told me:
“You’re not old.
You’ll never be old.
I’ve never met anyone less old than you.
It’s all in the mind.
Age is just a number.
Try homeopathy.”

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MP3 recording of this poem

Poem, photo and recording by Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2.0: free to share as long as you cite my name as author—please go ahead!

27 thoughts on “Getting old is not like getting pregnant — a poem about ageism

  1. Paula Light says:

    Most women in the western world survive pregnancy nowadays. No one survives old age. There’s one glaring difference!

    1. You spotted it, quick as a flash! Good to hear from you, Paula.

  2. Isn’t it lovely how we have all joined the mutual denial society… you deny my aging, and I deny yours.

    1. When you say “we”, count me out. I deny denial.

      1. Haha! I vacillate between denial and embrace.

  3. The great difference is that one is a fact of life, the other is not. The similarities are that both can be planned. Another difference is that one can be prevented, the other cannot. A woman is capable of both, a male can only expect one of them. If death is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.

    1. Once more you are right on the button, Kayti, with four crisp insights and a piece of advice that rather appeals to me.

  4. I read your poem with a smile, really I did. I get your point about pregnancy leading to life, and death leading to….death. But honestly, perhaps we just start out all over again. ;-0 xo

    1. Who knows? It may be fun finding out, but I’m happy to wait a while. Good to know you’re out there, Pamela.

      1. May we both wait a LONG time before we find out…. 🙂

  5. At one end of it we are helpless and generally considered cute and our needs endearing. At the onther end of it we might be helpless and have no expectation of being considered cute, or that others will find our needs endearing.

    1. Hobson’s choice!

    2. Maggie, if we had that choice, what would we do? — which was not your point I know.

  6. Getting old, we are all doing it, every one of us. It isn’t a choice at all. But for some reason I don’t mind.

    1. Then that’s perfect 🙂

  7. Robyn Haynes says:

    The trouble with being graced with a long life is that you must get old.

  8. mistermuse says:

    Age may be just a number, but at a certain age, your number is up (even if you stop counting). Talk about a downer! 🙁

  9. cheerfulmonk says:

    I’m with Andy Rooney, “I didn’t get old on purpose, it just happened. If you’re lucky, it could happen to you.”

    1. Exactly.

  10. I’ve never been pregnant so I march toward being old with vigor, having nothing to compare it with.

    1. Sounds good to me.

  11. Judith says:

    No comparison really. Why dread ageing as it is inevitable. I just soldier on and try to be optimistic. But I do ad,it that whenever I go to my doctor with a complaint it usually turns out to be due to ageing.
    Judith but why do I have to give my email when I comment.

    1. Don’t know why. I hate that myself. Does anyone else know? I will try to find out.

  12. A thought provoking poem.

    1. A bit ridiculous but so is life.

  13. kersten says:

    This poem made me smile ‘ is this your first old age? ‘ I felt like answering no it’s my last. I’m 76 and declining slowly but fairly robust still but I could not run for a bus or to escape goring by a raging bull , but then we cut our cloth to suit the circumstances. I have discovered a slow walk with no intended destination is a walk of extraordinary discovery , although not many people can walk slower than a dog. It also is quite nice to be considered to be a doddering old fool , people make so many allowances for the old dodderer. Strangers talk to me quite loudly and slowly and I’m useful to improve their diction and pronunciation. Attractive ladies find little to attract them in my slow shuffle and bent back , while a head of grey thinning hair without lustre leaves them cold.
    It’s strange but I don’t feel left on the shelf because the shelf is such a restful backwater compared to the fast lane , and on the shelf you need no plan . So I can wait the final curtain with an enjoyable expectancy the only thing that many disturb my equanimity is the thought of a painful end.

    1. This is a (very) positively adorable response both to the poem and to the stage of life you are in. Next time I see a septuagenarian with a twinkle in her eye I’ll think of you. To speak like this is not just to spread delight but also to increase your chances of a long and healthy old age, or so the science tells us. Thanks and please call again, Kirsten.

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