When I was 15, the Chicago Bears went to the Super Bowl. The year was 1986 and my parents had some friends over for a party to cheer the Bears on to victory. All of the 15 and unders were held up in the basement watching music videos and trying to learn the dance steps to “The Super Bowl Shuffle” when my mom yelled down the stairs to “keep it down!” I remember being mortified and embarrassed by my parents and how “uncool” they were. I remember thinking how old they were (at 36) and how when I was THAT old, I would never be that un-cool. Spoiler alert … they were so much cooler than I ever gave them credit for!
Fast forward, and next month I will turn 49. Forty-nine! I sometimes catch myself accidentally telling people that I am 39 just because 49 sounds so old, and I honestly can’t believe that time has gone so fast. I think I lost 10 years in there somewhere, because I can’t possibly be THAT old? The world wants me to hate the aging process and avoid it with every magical cream and potion, but as I’ve gotten older I have felt a shift in myself. I am learning to love and embrace each stage and every wonderfully beautiful thing that has come with it.
The bests have arrived!
The obvious: I am done with child rearing! I mean, thankfully, being a mom is never done, but the child-rearing process is one for the books. I have loved every minute (well, almost every minute) of raising our two children. I truly believe that they have taught me more about myself than I ever taught them, but now that our children are 23 and 21, the daily and sometimes hourly needs are long gone. The diaper changes, reminders to do their chores, homework checks, reading log signatures, and curfews have been replaced with … well, whatever I want to fill my time with.
Fewer Life-Altering Decisions. I’ve done the college thing, I am comfortable in my career, my marriage is solid, the kids are raised, and we’ve settled into a house that we love. The daily decisions don’t seem as daunting, and maybe that’s because with age comes experience. All of those life decisions that have been made over the years builds so much confidence because as we fail, we pick ourselves back up and try again and again. It has built confidence in who I am and who I’ve become. Each little or big decision has also brought about opportunities to grow and mature and love this older stage of life.
Less things and more memories. I’m still learning this one. I love to shop, I love to buy things, carry them around in my car, and then return them two weeks later. I love to wander through Home Goods by myself because I can, but lately I have found myself walking into Home Goods and more often than not, walking out with nothing. Gasp! Memories flood my mind almost daily of trips we have taken and experiences we have made. These memories are far more valuable than any candle or pillow from Home Goods. I am learning every day and holding tight to the belief and recent realization that less is more!
I Know Who I Am. Sure there are things about myself that I’d like to change, but for the most part, as I’ve gotten older, I have learned to embrace who I am. Growing up and dealing with emotions and relationships can be hard. I’m not proud to admit that I was a pro at adapting my personality to whoever I was around, trying so desperately to fit in, or compromising my beliefs to impress someone I didn’t even like. Say what? I don’t feel like it was ever intentional, but rather the biggest character flaw of the teen years, twenties, and even thirties. But my 40’s … my 40’s have been full of me learning to naturally embrace myself and not feeling the need to impress anyone. Phew, that was hard work!
A Shift in Priorities. I am officially well out of my 20s and 30s, and deep into my 40s. With this shift in age, also comes a shift in my priorities. Again, not so much intentionally, but more naturally. I’ve learned not to feel bad saying “no” to an event that I have no interest in attending, and I don’t even feel like I have to give an excuse or explain myself. Of course, the strength to say no without guilt comes from years of people-pleasing and volunteering for every activity under the sun. The horrible feelings of being overburdened have lead to transformation and new, “no guilt no’s.” I once heard someone say that saying “no” to the good things allows you to say “yes” to the great things. I am finally learning to embrace that!
I have also found that as I have gotten older and have more margin with my time, I have grown to appreciate relationships more. With age comes more opportunities to do the things that bring me joy without worrying about the time and energy spent caring for the littles that we once were so busy with. Sometimes, it’s as simple as going to bed earlier or meeting a friend for coffee without the worry of sacrificing family time. Anyone want to meet for coffee?
Thankful to grow older
As I grow older, I sometimes catch myself reminiscing of the days of chasing toddlers, or sitting on the bleachers cheering on our favorite baseball player. Often times, I feel sad or miss those magical moments, but more often recently, I find myself feeling thankful for this current life season and all that it continues to teach me. In this season, I have become thankful for growing older because, after all, it’s a privilege.