You're Only as Old as You Feel
While my upcoming 60th birthday is still somewhat of a shock, I've realized that this season of life comes with plenty of perks.
I live in a wonderful state of denial and think of myself as frozen somewhere around 35, but then I catch a glimpse in the mirror and it hits me: I will be turning 60 this year! Warning- here come the clichés. It seems completely unbelievable, it happened in the blink of an eye, where did the time go? My college roommates and I were texting about our upcoming 60th birthdays a few days ago, and we’re all just a bit freaked out about it. How in the heck did we get to 60?! It doesn’t take much effort, listening to an Eric Clapton CD, drinking a cold beer at Hideaway or going through an old college scrapbook, to be transported to our college days. Seven girls shared a big pink house in college, borrowed clothes, bikes and cars from one another, stayed up late talking, existed on oatmeal for weeks when we were broke, had truly epic parties (maybe that’s why we were broke?) and occasionally even studied together. We were young, smart girls ready to take on the world. There wasn’t a smidgen of doubt in our minds as we walked across the graduation stage; we were going to have incredible lives filled with adventure, love and success. But does anyone have the life they dreamed of? Like most people, we had wonderful times, we had terrible times. We had great loves and we had devastating heartbreaks. Through it all, we’ve remained friends and we’ll all be turning 60 in 2018. It would be so easy to let the difficulties of aging get me down; the need for ten pairs of readers around the house, the shrinking pants (got to be that dang washing machine’s fault), the creaking knees, and even more difficult--accepting the reality that some choices are no longer possibilities. I may not have it all, some dreams may go unfulfilled, but there are some advantages of having lived six decades, and that’s where I choose to place my focus!
- Discounts- Although age requirements vary, many places start offering senior discounts at 60. Just a word of advice to management, let the seniors ask for the discount. I was offered the senior discount at a movie theater when I was in my late 40's, and I’m still deeply wounded by it. My husband attempted to comfort me by pointing out that to an 18 year old, everyone over the age of thirty is ancient, but talk about an ego killer! My ego has left the building, and I will now happily accept any discount!
- A quiet house- Although some might still have high school kids or boomerang young adults, most of us have an empty nest. I hear some people grieve the departure of their children but come on, think of the massive decrease in laundry, meals and housekeeping. I love my kids and fully enjoyed raising them, but there is also something to be said for not tripping over shoes left in my path and the lack of wet towels on the furniture. If you’ve succeeded in raising adults that are independent, you’ve done your job. For everything there is a season, embrace each one!
- Contentment - I can’t say I’m completely free from caring what others think but I am most definitely LESS concerned. The more people I know, the more certain I am that we all have problems, but some people are better at hiding them. We post the highlights of our life on Facebook, not the disappointments, struggles and stresses. There was a time I may have been jealous imagining everyone else was out partying on Saturday nights, but now I’m deliriously happy to cozy up in my pajamas and play a game of Scrabble with my husband. I used to worry that people might be critical of me, but now I know most people are too busy worrying about their own stuff to be judgmental of others. If they are judging me harshly, I don’t need that kind of “friendship” in my life.
- Menopause- I know I’ll get some pushback on this one, but I love this time of life. Aunt Flo hasn’t made a visit in two years, and I haven’t missed her one bit. In her place she sent Cousin Wrinkles and Cousin Love Handles, and they have outstayed their welcome, visitors I can’t seem to evict. And what’s with the wiry hairs popping up on my chin and upper lip, and why are they coal black while the hair on my head is turning snow white? I guess this is the price we pay to keep Aunt Flo out of our lives.
- Grandchildren- You knew I had to work this one in! Although some people are grandparents by the time they are in their 40’s, my family seems to be much slower. We have kids in our thirties and become grandparents in our 60’s. It was worth the wait! Having a grandchild is a renewal, a second chance, a deep and inexplicable love. As Mary Waldrip so wisely said, “Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old." I wholeheartedly agree.
As we begin the year of celebrations, I feel fortunate to have arrived at this place in life with a reasonable level of health and fitness, a happy marriage, grown children that still choose to have Sunday family dinner with me and a grandchild to love. Long-term friendships from high school and college are the icing on the cake. We might not have had the life we envisioned at 18, but we did alright for ourselves, and I’m eager to discover what will be written in the next chapters of our lives. I hear sixty is the new forty, so let’s celebrate each and every birthday we’re lucky enough to have. Dig out the KC and the Sunshine Band records, grab a keg, roller skates, and party like its 1976!