For all the years I’ve been a mother to children who could speak, I’ve been hearing questions and comments about my age. My husband too likes to chime in, because yes, I am older than he (by a year!). Most of the time I can take the teasing with grace, but lately I find such comments are beginning to sting. I guess it’s because the numbers are really getting up there.
But there is one good thing about aging: wisdom gained.
So while my daughters, husband and younger friends (you know who you are!) may have youth on me, I have the experience that can only come with age. Below are a few important things I’ve learned over my nearly, but not quite, five decades of living.
1-If you lose something, don’t panic. This is life after forty: you lose things: your keys, theater tickets you ordered way back when, forms you need to fill out, your hidden cash stash. Don’t go right out and try to replace whatever you’ve lost. If you do, you’ll be guaranteed to find the original shortly after. Instead, just wait it out; more often than not you’ll eventually find your debit card, house key, the extra battery to the dog’s electric fence collar. It’s kind of like Christmas when you do.
2-Not all your friends will be forever friends. It’s sad but true. Some friendships whither and die, some people move on, some people were never truly a friend in the first place. It’s hurtful, frustrating and not anything you can control. If you don’t know who your real friends are, just have yourself a life crisis. The people who hang in there with you? Those are your friends. Just remember to be a friend back when it’s their turn to have a crisis.
3-Things Change: Everything is a stage. How many times have I lost hope when my job wasn’t going well, my kids were having hard times, the money for a new appliance or clothes for growing children or college just wasn’t there? So many I can’t count. I now know life is full of ups and downs, good times and bad. Everything is a stage or a phase. You may have rough times, but you won’t have them forever. Hang tough. Same thing for happier times, moments come and go, embrace the good.
4-Joy is ours for the taking (and it’s free). No matter your situation, joy is waiting for you, free of charge.. Sometimes it can be hard to find. Sometimes I stubbornly don’t want to search for it, prefer to give in to by misery. But joy is always there, hidden behind my stress, my pain, my pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Some days it stares me in the face. You know those days: the sun is shining, the peeps are agreeable and everything is going smoothly. But I have plenty of days where I have to pause, redirect my heart and choose to be joyful. On those days it is a harder choice, but when I manage to get there, it’s always worth my effort.
5-Most things aren’t about me. I once did volunteer work and found the committee head throwing me under the bus for the way I handled a situation. So not nice! I was pretty darn mad (it was volunteer work after all!) and didn’t think I’d done anything wrong. So I stewed for a while, but then I realized her reaction was more a reflection of her than it was me. I think this is often the case. So while I don’t use it as an excuse for my own behavior, I do try hard not to take others actions so personally. There are always two sides to a story, and holding on to anger is never good.