Aging Gracefully

This Spring, now summer, I feel like I have been having a mid-life realization of sorts. A shift has occurred within me; for the better. I am 35, going on 36, and the reality of getting older has been hitting me pretty hard these past few months. It mostly sunk in when I went to a wedding reception for a girl that lived a few doors down from me and whom I've known for almost 11 years now. I was her youth leader at church for a few years, when she was 12-14 years old, went and saw a few of her high school plays, and watched her grow up this past decade. When we moved here, I was 24 years old. I had just graduated from the University of Utah, we had just purchased our first home, I had been married for 2 1/2 years ... I was a youngin'! Looking at my sweet 22 year old neighbor girl in her beautiful wedding dress and her 26 year old husband, who were so young, sweet, happy, ignorant of what may lie ahead of them in the years ahead, I saw myself and my husband at that age, 13 1/2 years ago. And I realized, "Wait, that's not me anymore! I don't look like that! I'm not a 20 something college student. I am getting closer to 40, have two children now, have been married for almost 14 years, weigh about (we really won't go there) pounds more than when I first got married ... I'm old!!! How did this happen to me?!? Now I'm the "lady down the street", or "that mom over there of those two little boys".

A cute young couple about 23-24 years old just moved in two doors down. They haven't even been married a year yet, have no children, and are so freaking adorable it makes your heart hurt. I just love them. They're so young and happy and the whole world is right ahead of them. And every time I look at her, it's like looking at myself a decade ago, newly married, just graduated from college, living in a house ... I think, "That used to be me. I used to be one of the cute young things that just moved in. Now I'm one of those older moms. I have kids. Woa. When did that happen?"
Me and Brent, cira 2007. Almost a decade ago. Youngins.
Me and Brent, cira 3 days ago, 2016 - Enjoying life together, still. :)

All of these thoughts, and more, have been somewhat rocking my small world as of late. But then I had the most wonderful thoughts; I'm getting older! This is a good thing. A few months ago I was reading one of those stupid Hollywood magazines up at my parents' home, and they had an article about these beautiful actresses over 40 who cannot get work anymore. Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Halle Berry, and many more. The article fortunately made sure to highlight what these women are focusing on these days. Each one was mentioned as being a mother, as well as focusing on other things professionally. I couldn't help but thinking, this is sad, that right when these women are beginning to actually be interesting in their personal and professional lives, not just a hot young girl/actress, but women with more wisdom and substance and experience to them, they are offered very little work. I flipped back a few pages to a picture of a bunch of 20 something actresses that, in my opinion, paled in comparison to their older counterparts. Just their poses alone in pictures showcased their obvious insecurities and desperate hopes for everyone to like them.

It is a bit infuriating to me that in our society, if you really think about it, women have an extremely short number of years to be considered "beautiful, hot, in their prime". And it is a much, much shorter time span than is given to men. Really, it is about age 15 to, well, 35 or 40. This is so ridiculous to me. A woman still has hopefully another 40-50 years to live beyond this!! So ridiculous.

I hope that I am reaching the stage of my life that I am actually becoming interesting, not just for what I look like or what I can do, but more for who I am, who and what I represent and try to be as a person and how I treat others. I'm okay with just being my boys' mom because, well, my kids are pretty awesome. And I'm proud to be their mom! I'm okay with being one of the 'older moms' in the hood now, because hopefully that means the younger moms will look up to me the way I did with some of the other women when I first moved here.

I've also been into listening to Brene Brown's "The Gift of Vulnerability". She is a phenomenal speaker, I highly recommend listening to her books, not reading them. I feel like listening to her captures the intent of what she is really trying to get across much better than I could by reading it. She talks about the "gifts of imperfection", vulnerability, comparison, letting go of perfectionism, being genuine and authentic. It has really caused me to take notice of the relationships and friendships in my life and what may or may not actually be good for me. I've realized that, especially with being the second to the youngest of 7 children, I've always wanted to be heard, seen, understood, wanted my opinions to count for something. And at the same time, I have been a HUGE people pleaser and will do what I can to alleviate bad feelings or discomfort between myself and someone else, even if it costs me dearly. I am learning to set healthy boundaries for myself and some of these relationships/friendships, without putting myself at cost.

Despite some of the accompanying aches and pains of getting older (I know, I know, I haven't experienced anything to that affect quite too bad yet), I see that it is truly a gift and a blessing to be allowed to age. My wish is to age gracefully, and I don't necessarily mean that physically. I think/hope I've already experienced my almost mid-life crisis these past two years. I'm enjoying the mid-life realization right now. :)

Comments

Monica Packer said…
We definitely have some big similarities, in terms of equally wanting to be heard but also please those around us. That's a hard contradiction! I am definitely marking this post as something to remember in five years when i'm really, really recognizing that age growth in the mirror, but instead try to view it as powerful and something to embrace. Even turning 30 has thrown me for a loop, in that regard; but this is a beautiful way to go about it. You're amazing!

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