When I turned 30, I did as many people nowadays(ish) do. I turned to Facebook to make me feel loved and valued.
It didn’t let me down.
The birthday wishes POURED in.
From family members; close friends; former coworkers; people I use to do various sports and other activities with; members of my Grade 3 class; etc…
The wish I remember?
The only thing worse than turning 30 is not turning 30. Happy Birthday.
And one that gave me pause as I considered my thoughts on aging and on what’s IN a number. Really.
When I was young, I couldn’t wait to grow up.
Now? I find myself looking wistfully at my 4-year-old and jumping at the opportunity to “pretend play” trading places with her when she asks.
Because she can’t wait to grow up. She informs me that when she is an adult she will come to work with me and “keep and eye on me.” Every now and then when I have a bad day at the office, I try to remember that my 4-year-old thinks my “work” is some magical fantasy land she can’t wait to get to.
When we pretend play trading places she pretends to cook dinner while telling me to clean up and behave or I won’t get a treat.
Meanwhile, I mostly just repeatedly ask to sit on her lap, follow her about and ask if I can wear a dress and watch TV.
Good times. And, I think, an insightful learning experience for both of us.
When you are really young, there’s a big rush to get to “grown up” where you can be “in charge” and “do what you want.”
Once you get “grown up”, you appreciate how nice life was when someone else was doing your laundry and paying your bills.
So what’s growing up all about?
I think it’s about figuring these things out.
One of my favourite movies when I was in high school was 1990’s “Pump Up the Volume” where Christian Slater plays a high school student who is also a pirate radio DJ.
One of my favourite quotes from the movie was Christian Slater saying that “society is mutating so rapidly that anyone over the age of 20 really has no idea….”
That sounded pretty true at 15. Twenty sounded old. Forty sounded ANCIENT.
Now that I’m nearing 40? I have friends in their 50s and they don’t seem old. And twenty? Well, while I also have friends in their twenties, and I don’t FEEL that different than I did then, I know I am.
I had a Eureka moment a few years back when I didn’t “get” Twilight. Given my slight obsession with high school fiction and vampires I was primed to LOVE Twilight. And there it was: all star-crossed coming of age, and vampires and all I could think? Why is she choosing this brooding moody and obviously violent vampire when she can have the wolf? He so obviously cares about her and is the healthier, better choice and long-term life partner and …. Yup! Past that stage of life.
So now that I’ve accepted defeat on this point, the question is: How do I stay young at heart?
I think it’s less about staying young and more about making sure you are staying connect to, and enjoying life.
So on that front, while it takes a bit more planning than in the pre-kid world, I do still enjoy the odd night out with friends.
Sometimes the need for that level of unwind is ALMOST worth the 30something hangover. Which, for those not yet here, puts the 20something hangover to SHAME.
Given that, I usually now enjoy time with friends in quieter environments. I’m not ready for the book club/cookie exchange stage of life, but an evening out at a pub, or a nice restaurant fits the bill for me.
Or a barbeque. Two summers we hosted and I recall at one stage walking in on my husband and his friends having an in-depth and manly conversation about automobiles. Something any hot-blooded young men would care passionately about, right?
Of course, they were having a heated argument over what the “coolest” minivan was. I figure that was a confident and comfortable embracing of age and life-stage if EVER there was one.
In addition to friend-time, my husband and I also try to make sure we still spend time out together, so we aren’t just cast as parents in the sit-com of our life. A few weeks ago we went to a pub. This week we are going out for dinner. It’s not a weekend away at a bed and breakfast, but it’s something. And those moments will happen again once the kids are older.
To balance this moderately paced debauchery, there is also as you age, the need to give a bit more attention to lifestyle choices. Healthy food; exercise; and finding ways to incorporate both enjoyably becomes important. I can FEEL when I’ve been eating poorly and equally know when I’m exercising enough.
Then, of course, there is time with the kids. Ours are currently four and almost two. So, while sometimes exhausting and sometimes exasperating, it is also sometimes downright wonderful.
And if ever you needed someone to bring you back to “staying young” and continually finding the fun? You could do worse than hanging with young kids. Puddle jumping, the thrill of getting a cookie or going for ice cream, re-discovering Disney movies, building forts, reading fairy tales, making cupcakes, pretending to be mermaids – you name it we do it.
I know, like other life stages, this too will pass. So I try to enjoy the moments while they’re here. Like counting stars projected on the ceiling before bedtime.
So, getting back to the number. What’s in a number? Really. Every now and then when asked my age I actually have to stop and think about it for a second. Because while once upon a time the number really mattered, it just doesn’t anymore.