*NB I’ve been working on this post for well over a month and appear to have had a mental block about actually finishing off…wonder what that says??
It’s become customary for me to write a few reflections on my birthday these past few years, for example upon turning 37 and 38. Unfortunately, I keep getting older which is rather alarming. It’s a peculiar thing that although ageing is a fact of life, it becomes harder to accept as we get older. Ok, I’m not that old, but sometimes it bloody well feels like it. At other times, I feel like I’m 15 again (check out my hen party review for examples of sheer abandon and brazen stupidity).
Previously, my reflective birthday posts have been positive. I’m more mature, experiencing life more fully than ever before as a mother of two, I know myself better than ever and so on. But this year, I turned 39 and its felt a little different.
Shit!!! I’m 39!!! How did that happen?? I’m now in the last year of my 30s! I am actually middle aged!
We hear a lot about how ’50 is the new 30’; those aged upwards of 40 and beyond seem to live a much more varied and active life than it appeared they did when I was younger (note the ‘younger’ rather than ‘young’!). People start whole new careers, hobbies, have amazing holiday adventures. Why wouldn’t they – the average life expectancy of a woman is now 83 years (79 for men) and is expected to climb to 87 by 2030. In 1976, when I was born, it was 75.9 years. Whether they live those years in good health is another matter (factors such as smoking, alcohol, eating a healthy diet, exercise all play a part in this – clearly my body is a temple and I practice all forms of health giving behaviours on a regular basis) but essentially – we reach middle age today and realise we have a whole new life to live again.
Facts are facts, however: my body is changing, I have more wrinkles, I’m more prone to annoying little ‘twinges’ here and there and I have to work harder at particular forms of exercise than I did when I was younger. My husband would tell you about my whinging over the past week or so about a sore shoulder and neck – the result of years of carrying small children around and a heavy bag on one shoulder.
Turning 39 has been part of a journey of acceptance, probably over the past year; acceptance of my own mortality. Ultimately, although this all seems a bit negative, it’s been uplifting. Honest!
So, wrinkles and ageing joints aside what are the positives? I think that having been through this period of reflection, I realise that hey – I’m here! I’m healthy and well, as are my family, and it’s time to embrace this and get on with it, day by day. I know what to do, to keep myself in reasonable shape (eat well, stupid! do more exercise, stupid! actually do some of those mindfulness sessions you downloaded, stupid!) and I should get on with this, too rather than sit reading ‘healthy living’ magazines gathering ideas and talking about them.
There are the obvious benefits that come from being more settled. I’m luckily enough to have a husband (no more dating websites!!! woo!) and two gorgeous little girls (no more preggers for me – joy!). I know what I’m good at and what I’m a bit shit at. I can legitimately turn down nights out as I’m ‘too tired’. I actually wanted to do this many times when I was younger – how much more enjoyable is it to languish on the sofa, glass of wine to hand, watching a film than stand in a packed bar making your voice hoarse in an effort to be heard?
I realise I’m less fearful, less uncertain of what the future holds and this is truly empowering. I’m looking forward to watching my girls develop and grow to achieve their potential – but I’m also looking forward to achieving more of my own.