Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On Growing Up

I bet you think this is going to be about the kids, right? Nope. It's about me and my realization that I am growing up. I can't call this a mid-life crisis because I'm ONLY 41. I'm not half way yet.

I don't know about the rest of you, but Roger and I have talked about how we have a mental age that doesn't really necessarily match our actual age. When someone asks how old you are, you can give the right answer, but in your mind when you think about yourself, you think about yourself as a different age. When I was around 34 I realized I wasn't 22 anymore and had to make this leap in my mind. Now I'm 41 and my body is letting me know it. I am having to readjust that mental age again so it's been on my mind a lot lately.

I spent some time staring at myself in the mirror. I had to let myself know that it's okay that I am getting a few wrinkles and things are sagging now. I spend my days with young people. I've got a 13 year old and a 15 year old (okay, 31 days still of being 14, but she's close) in the house which seems to make this a little harder for me. There's this constant reminder that I used to wear that size and have that smooth skin, etc. Now there are spots and blotches bumps and rolls and things. It's kind of hard to adjust to.

I'm determined to not feel all the aches and pains that are considered normal as we age. I keep hearing that I have no choice, but I don't believe it. I've had a couple of episodes of arthritic pains in my joints, but I take my grapefruit seed extract or garlic or cut back on my sugar. It amazes me how well the body can heal itself.

I've been asked to share some of what I've learned and am learning about herbs and natural healing. I'll do that as I have time and think of something I want to share. There's actually tons of stuff I'd like to teach everyone about being healthy, but I don't want to sound like I know it all because I don't. But I'm usually willing to experiment with herbs more than I'd be willing to let doctors experiment on me or my children with their drugs. There are fewer side effects.

But back to aging. I got an email yesterday aimed at helping me feel better by showing me all these pictures of the beautiful Hollywood stars and how they are aging too. It didn't help because I realized that if they started out looking better than me and now they look that bad, it's just hopeless for me! But what is helping is realizing that I am 41 and I shouldn't expect to look 15 or 25 or even 35. And it's okay to grow up. And while I still want to take care of myself, I don't have to look like a Hollywood star. Even an old, saggy star. I just have to be healthy enough to continue to do what I need to do and enjoy my children and maybe someday some grandchildren.

I am enjoying the wisdom that comes with age. The reduced stress in realizing that not all of life is drama. The love and joy and memories that come with having lived a life and made lots of friends along the way. And this is a great time to also realize I have so much ahead of me. More memories and love and joy and things to do and people to meet . . .

I imagine this will just keep getting harder every time I have to readjust my mental age, but I thought I'd share in case there's anyone else out there who is feeling old. Maybe there is comfort in knowing you are not alone.


mo said...

Are you kiddin? I tell people yeah she has 10 kids & looks 17. Your mirror is lying to you! I remember seing you feet on the back of the seat in front of you with Ezra in your lap thinking she looks like a teenager! So just stop telling yourself different! Trust me no one thinks you look 41!

And no I am not just being nice, I'm being honest.

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to find my "real" age. Aging can be hard to take in this youthful society; everyone wants to look younger. Old age is made fun of and denied. I think I was your age when you and I and Julie went to the mall in KC and I was looking at some outfit and you both told me I was too old for that! A great learning experience. Now my children are almost middle aged. Finding a place in life as a 63 year old widow is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. But I'll do it! Yep, there's lots of kickin and yellin left in me..God has a place and purpose for everyone.

Julie McCarty said...

Interesting post. Having known you when you were 17, I'd have to disagree with Mo. You don't look like that anymore! Ha!

I was thinking recently about how much I've changed just since Zoey was born. Before Zoey, I'd think about Ashlee and decide, "What a hip mom I'd have been." I still looked pretty good and I had a pretty active lifestyle with lots of adventure. I judged other moms for letting themselves go. But you know what, being a mom changes everything. And I think it shows up in how we look. Suddenly we are selfless, moreso than we ever have been. How would that not affect our looks? We give up sleep, we have little time to get ready, our focus is no longer on fashions, in the baby stage we take terrible care of ourselves. It takes a toll. And on top of that of course our bodies change shape because of it all. Notice the hottest celebrities have no babies. They can be and are all about themselves. If that is your sole focus, well then you better look good or you've failed at the one thing you put your mind to.

So, when you look in the mirror, what you should see is a much loved person with great kids -- in other words, a mom. It's a reflection of what you've invested in. Be proud.