I am older than my mother.
My mother stopped aging when she reached her 21st birthday but I sailed right past that milestone on into middle age. So my mother is 21 while I am… no, I don’t think I am quite ready to reveal my age.
Why do we feel reluctant to tell people how old we are? Is there something shameful about getting older? I just don’t understand it.  We are all aging whether we like to admit it or not. We are all going to get old.
Back in those dim and distant days of my youth, I thought I’d be young forever. Wrinkles and saggy skin happened to other people but I couldn’t imagine it happening to me.
I remember reading novels as a teenager. If I discovered that the heroine was older than me, I lost interest. How can a teenager identify with such ancient beings as twenty somethings or thirty somethings?
When I was a mother of two in my late twenties, I had a couple of friends who were about ten years older than me. I thought they were really old. Although I was willing to admit they were very nice despite their advanced age.
Nowadays, I would be quite happy to be in my late thirties. I would have no trouble admitting to that age which sounds so young to my middle aged ears.
My grandmother lived to the advanced age of 93. I heard she was very upset when everyone celebrated her 70th birthday with a special party and a huge “I’m 70 today!” badge. Obviously she didn’t feel 70. She didn’t want to be put on display and labelled as ‘old’. But by the time she’d reached 90 she’d changed her mind. Her age was now her trophy. She was rather proud of having lived so many years. She was a very active woman and was rightly proud of her continuing ability to stay fit and involved with life.
Years ago, people would say such flattering things to me like, “Wow! You don’t look old enough to have 3, 4. 5… children! You look so young.” (I am sure this has happened to you too.) Now that I have 8 children and I am of advanced years, no one has said such magical and welcome words to me in a long time.
Sometimes I add a few years to my age.
“How old are you?”
“I’ll be 69 next birthday.”
“Wow! You look so young for 69!”
I think they suspect I couldn’t possibly be 69, but it is the only way I am going to hear those wonderful words ever again.
I have never lied about my age (except in jest). What would be the point?  Everyone knows I have a 24 year old daughter so I can’t exactly be 21, can I?  I rather spoilt my mother’s deception when I overtook her in age. She might have got away with announcing she was still 21 being a very youthful and beautiful person, but I spoilt it all by being very open about exactly how old I was.
Well, it’s easy being open about age when you are in your twenties. The world belongs to twenty something people. They haven’t even hit their prime. There is no shame in being twenty.
And so I am back to the question: is there something shameful in getting older?
I have come to the conclusion that no one wants to get older because generally no one respects and values the older members of our society. Wisdom and experience are not regarded as assets in a world where good looks, youth and health are everything. Old folk tend to get labelled as ‘passed it’ and are regarded as a problem.
And who likes the thought of being a problem? To be old and frail and dependant on friends and family and society? To be regarded as a burden?
All of my children have promised to look after me in my old age. Some years ago, Callum said, “Dad can come and live with me when he’s old. I’ll cook magnificent dinners and then we’ll watch the motor racing together.”
“I’m sorry to tell you this, Callum,” I replied, “but Dad and I come as a package. If you have Dad, you’ll have to have me as well.”
“I’ll have you, Mum,” offered Imogen. “I’m going to be a doctor and I’ll take care of your health too.”
“Perhaps we can all take turns having Mum and Dad,” someone else piped up. “We’ll share you.”
I don’t think I like the idea of being a parcel passed from household to household. Perhaps each child will get fed up with having old Mum and old Dad living with them and will be glad to pass us on to the next sibling. But it is nice to think, right at this moment, they all want to share us.
When all our children have grown up and left home, I wonder if they will look to Andy and me for advice and wisdom? Will they value our experience and knowledge gained through getting older? Will they look upon us as mentors?
Some months ago, I was asked to be a mentor by a beautiful, much younger mother of two. My new friend lives in the US and we swap emails sharing our experiences. I am just so very pleased N doesn’t think I am too old to be her friend. I really enjoy swapping news, discussing our lives, sharing our Faith…
N has created a blog called My Domestic Chaos…er… I Mean Monastery and is ‘gathering help from those who are older and wiser.” She says, “Please help me make my home a sanctuary… or at least keep my sanity.”
So if you are older and wiser or just willing to share your experiences, please visit my friend’s blog. N is such a delightful writer. I am sure you will enjoy her posts. Please stop and comment and join in a discussion where age does not matter. All that matters is one mother helping another. Or one father:  my friend Anthony has already visited N’s blog and sprinkled a few of his entertaining wise words into the comments section.
The other day I was talking to a couple of friends about my birthday which is rapidly approaching.
“I’ll be 50 in 2 weeks’ time,” I announced. And then I stopped and thought for a moment. “Did you hear that? I said I’ll be 50.” I actually said my age out loud in public. And no one backed off screaming in horror.
And now you know how many candles will be on my next birthday cake.
50: that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? I can live with that number. I know that in 10 years’ time, when I reach my 60th birthday, 50 will sound rather attractive. Perhaps I will even enjoy being 50.
I imagine you, my internet friends out there in the blogosphere, reading this post. Are you thinking, “Hey! I didn’t realise Sue was so old. I can’t relate to the ramblings of such an ancient blogger"? Will you tip toe quietly away and head off in search of more youthful musings?  Or will you stay around despite my advancing years? Will we still be friends now that I am almost 50?

Post a Comment

  1. We'll always love you Mum. You won't be put in a nursing home. Can we put 50 candles on your cake? PLEASE!

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  2. Thank you, Immy. Better have the fire engine standing by just in case!

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  3. Sue that was quite a conversation the other day. !!!!

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  4. Leanne, you didn't back off in horror. You are still talking to me despite my old age. I guess we will be friends forever!

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  5. i dont consider u old at all. I consider you equal if that makes sense. to me all moms are just equal. They are simply mom age. I don't get hung up on my birthday. I don't like celebrating my bday since i don't like fusses made about me but i make fusses over my children and their bdays. i dont really even keep track of my age if that makes sense.

    but i do remeber when i had my first baby i was in my 20s and all the moms I knew were in their 40s! so I tried to be friends with them but they always were jealous of me and told me that and would say well you are so young and I am so old. they thought i was too young for them. but now that I am older and most of the moms I know are younger its opposite. they think I am too old for them.

    anyway, enough about me. happy birthday. enjoy your day.

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  6. Thank you, Kim! I love that; we are 'mom age'. What a nice way of thinking about it. We have so much to share whatever our age. Young or old, we can share experiences and support each other and be friends.

    Thank you for the birthday wishes. God bless!

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  7. That makes us almost exactly 10 years apart! I must say I've never really understood the whole recoiling from one's age thing. If you're lucky enough to get to 40, 60 etc, celebrate! Not everyone will be so fortunate.

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  8. Are you turning 40 or 60, Tricia? Just joking, my young friend!!! And as you're 10 years younger than me, you have no excuse for not running in the mothers' race with me next year. Have a very happy birthday and may God bless you.

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  9. Sue, you are becoming more and more beautiful with age. Megan and I were looking at old photos and we both agreed that maturity had enhanced you - it must be the beautiful soul within. Besides, you're just one year closer to eternal youth!

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  10. You are a beautiful sister, Vicky, a true gift. Thank you!

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  11. Never fear your age Sue! I'm not far behind you!! And I know your children will turn to you and Andy for advice as they become adults, getting jobs and starting their own families. You've created a strong solid foundation of family life and they'll remember that and will want a close relationship with both of you as they age.

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  12. I will visit your friend too!

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  13. Thank you for your kind and reassuring words, Noreen. Be sure to add some of your wisdom to N's blog. She will appreciate it. God bless.

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  14. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read this post on middle age :) I find myself hesitating when I give my age too. I have a daughter who's only 7 and people think I am much younger than I am but the simple truth is that my husband and I had her very late due to fertility problems so I'm actually in my mid forties. I was laughing recently because an online magazine for "young women" asked if I was interested in writing articles for them. They had read my blog and thought I was much younger than I really am - I guess I'll have to ask them if "young at heart" counts!

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  15. I was so pleased to see your comment. Mary. Thank you for visiting my blog. How exciting being asked to contribute to a young women's magazine! Yes, age is just a number. It's being young at heart that counts. I'd love to read your articles so please come back and leave a link to the online magazine, if you have time. God bless!

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