I’m middleaged, and I’m determined to celebrate it. Do you love whatever age you are? I’m thinking about this because of a conversation I overheard between a teenage kid and his middledaged mother recently. These are his exact words:
“I wish I was your age, Mom. It seems like you’re at the point of your life where everything is going so well. You have kids, a husband, a sustainable job. You can go skiing when you want, Dad can go on his bike. You’re not old yet, you don’t have to worry about being old. It must be nice.”
It’s true. When we’re adults, our worries may be about more significant things than when we were kids. We might worry about losing our jobs, and if we do, it has a more profound effect on the family than the kid who, after worrying he will fail a test, actually does fail. But the kids don’t know how inconsequential some of their worries are. Their worries are as real to them as ours are to us. And they have so much less control over their lives! They do what we tell them, what the teachers tell them; even strangers often think they can tell kids what to do.
If someone tells me what to do, I can tell them to shove it, whether it’s my husband, my kids, my mom, my doctor, my neighbor, or the grocery clerk. (Not that I ever do, because I’m too damn nice, but I could. And someday, I just might!). As for my worries, at least I’m more in control of the outcomes than I was as a kid. And with the outcomes I can’t control, well, I have more resources at my disposal now than I did then (loving husband, friends, the wisdom of age, a better sense of “the bigger picture.” And, of course, therapists, alcohol, anti-anxiety meds…)
At our age, we have the right to make our own decisions and to follow through – or not follow through – on them. It’s such a luxury!
I mentioned the boy’s comments to a friend, and her response was: “The freedom of adulthood is pretty great. Not at first because you’re struggling too much with yourself, but I think the calm that comes at 40 has been the best.”
I hear so many people at my age moaning about being old: they ache, they can’t do the things they used to be able to do, they’re more tired, they’re gaining weight. And it’s true! I definitely ache more than when I was younger. But I still feel young. And I ached back then, too. When I was in my early twenties, I tended bar and waited tables for 12 hour shifts, and often, when I woke up the next morning (translation: late in the afternoon), I had to climb out of bed gingerly and hobble on the edges of my feet to the bathroom, because the soles of my feet were wrecked from running around on a hard restaurant floor. So sure, I ache sometimes. Occasionally I feel stiff when I get out of bed, or creaky when I stand up after bending down to pick something up. But I don’t equate those things with being older. I don’t think, “My back hurts today. I’m so old.” I just think, “Huh. My back hurts today.”
Forgive me if I’m being preachy; I really don’t mean to be. I’m just saying that I’m learning to try to love where I am in life and not yearn for what is in the past or long for what is in the future (retirement? more time to snowboard? grandchildren?).
I’m really trying – and this blog is part of it – to find the things that make me happy and joyful and passionate about life NOW, and to do them more often – as often as I can.
So tell me: what do you love about your current stage of life? Do you take advantage of some of the freedoms that come with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’ll share them, because I think this could be one of the best times of our lives.