Recent conversation with my daughter:
Daughter: “How old is ______?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
D: “Well, why don’t you ask?”
Me: “It isn’t polite to ask a woman her age.”
Me: “I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe so they won’t be embarrassed to say how old they are?”
D: “Really?” Thinks a bit…then says, “Is that true for men, too?”
Me: “No, I don’t think so.”
D: “Are you embarrassed about how old you are?”
Me: “No, not really.”
D: “I’m never going to be, either.”
Out of the mouths of babes comes perfect truth. There’s nothing like a conversation with my curious daughter to expose some uncomfortable truth.
I’m not really sure why women don’t like to talk about their age. When I was a kid, I just accepted the fact that we’re not supposed to ask how old a lady was, even if I was curious. I can only assume it’s because they’re embarrassed. Maybe I have this assumption because I didn’t have healthy role modeling about aging. Mom claimed she was turning “29” well into her forties. And I’m not sure I ever knew how old my grandmother was turning. We didn’t talk about it.
What makes us feel bad about saying how old we are? Why do we cringe at another birthday?
Did advertising agency start to make us feel bad about aging, with all their claims and jars filled with the fountain of youth?
I’m not sure. I do know that I’m trying to not feel that way. I love birthdays and I want to keep on loving them. Sure, my mind gets a bit blown when I think about how old I’m turning this birthday, but I feel mostly proud of how old I am. For many reasons, I feel like my life today is a miracle. And each new year is a precious gift from God.
When I was in my early 20’s and working at my first job after college, someone wrote in my birthday card from the office, “another year old, another year wiser,” and to this day I think about that on every one of my birthdays. Another year of experience under our belts, another year of lessons learned, does make us another year wiser. Even as our bodies might be failing us as we age, I like thinking that my mind is getting stronger and wiser.
I’m a lot smarter now than I ever was. There’s less guessing about the “right” thing or path or decision at this age. But, on the other hand, I’m not nearly as smart as I thought I was back in my 20’s either. I don’t know about you, but I had everything completely figured out back then. Now I’m much more aware of my not knowing or being wrong about something. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that, too.
It’s taken a few decades, but I know what works for me now. Heck, it took me almost 30 years to finally figure out how to do my hair! I know I’m not alone in this. We all have those pictures of ourselves with awkward hairdos that we’d like to make disappear! And fashion is much easier now too. I’m not swayed by every new fashion trend. I stick to what works for me and I’m much more comfortable in my skin because of it. All added perks to knowing ourselves better with each year.
Now back to the conversation with my daughter….what a great reminder to those of us aging gracefully in front of daughters or younger sisters. Their eyes are watching us so let’s set a good example for them about what it means to get older (and wiser, don’t forget that part!).
And to any “young’uns” reading this blog: take heart, the wheels won’t completely fall of the bus as you age into your 30’s…at least not yet. And, here’s the thing that I wish someone had told me about getting older, it isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s really great.