Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why There Will Always Be Cougars

Cougar is the current slang term for women who date younger men. On my most recent radio show (, I interviewed a woman who has had a dickens of a time meeting a man her age or older who also is her intellectual peer. This woman is a divorced eye surgeon, and she’s seeking a male partner who has some kind of professional degree. She has not found anyone age-appropriate, so she has begun dating younger men out of necessity.

A little research explains why men date older women and women frequently date people substantially younger than themselves.

For the past half century in the United States, there have been on average 1050 boys for each 1000 girls born each year. According to Census Bureau statistics, the number of boys compared to girls continually decreases until at the age group of 30-34 when women outnumber men.

In the U. S. by ages 20 to 29, there are 623,000 more men than women. And by ages 30-39, women outnumber men by 262,000. And it just gets more challenging as people get older.

For a woman of 40, that means that there are not enough men to provide a partner for her and every other woman in her age group. So dating a younger man may become necessary if she choses not to be alone.

Men, on the other hand, seek younger partners as well, not because of demographic imperatives, but because of ego. Young and beautiful trophy brides seem to be more than happy to be seen in a BMW or Mercedes gifted to them by an older gentleman. This just makes matters more difficult for women who are their age mates.

If you are a woman over 40 and looking for a mate who is your educational and intellectual equal, good luck. The disparity between men and women educationally grows every year. Substantially more than half of the advanced and professional degrees are awarded to women today.

Besides, as Safire, the Uppity Blues Woman, sings in her song “Middle Aged Blues Boogie”:

“Well seems like men my age are all married, boring or tired…
Got to find a young man if you want to feel desired
Now some of my friends are worried ‘bout what some people might say
I say ‘age ain’t nothin’ but a number.’ The good Lord made it that way.”

In addition, the chances of spending time as widow are reduced, since men generally die sooner by at least 5 years than women. So ladies, I hereby grant permission to get out there and go find an appropriate “youngun.”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Second Chances

Currently, in the United States, $14.6 billion is spent on moms every Mother’s Day. That number is second only to the Christmas holidays. I can believe it. Mothers have such a major and important role in shaping our character and personalities.

While I still had the option to have a child, I chose for a host of reasons not to do so. Chief of all the factors is that I watched my favorite sister struggle with having had 4 babies in 2 ½ years - by the time she was 20 ½. Although she loved each and all of them dearly, I could see how mightily she struggled to take care of them and the house, prescriptions for a good wife in the 1950’s and the 60's. I would take the school bus to her house at least once a week to help her, and all I would do was iron clothes. This was also a time long before permanent press fabric and where a good wife starched and ironed all of the family’s clothes, including sheets and tee shirts. Because my sister couldn’t keep up with everything even with my help, on my arrival, I usually would locate the sprinkled clothes in the freezer where they would have been put to avoid their molding before one of us could iron them.

There is no doubt that her example was my best lesson in planned parenthood. I just didn’t think I would have the wherewithal to be a mother and to manage my studies and meet my life goals, too.

However, when I met and married my husband Paul, I got a second chance. Paul has three adult children from his first marriage. From two of these kids, we have five grandchildren, one great-grandson who will turn one year old in a couple of weeks, and the unrelated half brother to two of our favorites who asked, “Grandma, will you be my Grandma?” There was no way I could refuse that request, nor did I even consider it.

If you think kids will eat your heart out as a parent, just wait until you become a grandparent! I would give these kids anything and do anything for them. I joke, “You want a car? Sure, I’ll get you a car. What kind do you want? You want a trip around the world? I’ll hire a travel agent immediately.” Of course, I am exaggerating. But that is genuinely my emotion. I can’t seem to say “I love you” enough and give and get enough hugs and kisses. And I am over the moon when one of them calls just to talk. And when Tristan, now 13, calls us “my most precious grandparents,” my heart swells with love for him and for all of them.

Paul’s willingness to share his grandchildren and the children’s receptivity to me bring a very special dimension to my life. As any grandparent knows, being a grandparent is one of God’s greatest gifts. In fact, it’s a little bit of heaven on earth for which I am incredibly grateful.