“Hey Mommy, why do old men drive the fanciest cars?”
I chuckled at my son’s witty observation, and I probably mumbled out some corrective response. Yet, I wondered to myself, “How in the world did he come to that conclusion?”
We have heard the jokes about mid-life crises, and we have looked with amusement at others who we feel are holding on to vestiges of their younger years. We think it is odd, and certainly, we would not be caught doing the same.
Is that true though?
On the television. Over the internet. In the latest magazine. Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with messages that aging is bad, and that youth is to be maintained and sought after. Social dictates and consumer marketing go the extra mile to make women feel less than for simply existing. We spend a good amount of our resources—time, energies, and money—on products and services that promise us just a little taste of that elusive fountain of youth.
What is it about aging that repulses modern-day society? Well, there are those achy joints and the failing eyesight. We look forward to the early turn-in hours. We reach for the hair dye boxes more than we would prefer. Let’s be completely honest with each other—we are no longer the cool kids on the block. And if I get another update to install on my phone…
I don’t want to make light of the real struggles that can accompany aging. Getting older anywhere is hard. If you are living in a society that does not hold proper spaces for the elders, it can be an even tougher reality. Nevertheless, I wonder if there are lessons we can glean from cultures where aging is esteemed and valued. Are there ways in which we can shift our focus towards the positives of growing older?
As I thought over my son’s funny comment, I started to make a mental list of the good of getting older. Here are two main thoughts I will share.
Maturity and wisdom to share.
There is still a sense that we are to be growing wiser as we get older. Maturity and sobriety hopefully come from life experiences and as we grow older as women and mothers, we have the great privilege of sharing our inner wealth with our children and our communities.
This is also a clarion call to those who are younger to lean into the treasures we have in older women (and men.) They have walked many roads which we now walk, and they can serve as true supports for us as we endeavor to love our families. We do well to welcome safe and wise older people into the lives of our children, too. Our kids can learn so much from others who have lived more than they have. What a gift to promote intergenerational community in our neighborhoods, schools, places of worship, etc.
Freedom of thought and time.
As we age, we often solidify our thinking and have a better understating of how things look in the world around us. This does not mean that we stop learning, changing, and growing, but it means that we do so with more confidence than we had when we were in our twenties. Additionally, we are able to manage our time better and lend ourselves to things that are meaningful as opposed to simply shooting the breeze.
It was not until I entered my forties that I started to feel comfortable in my own skin. I have done more self-reflection and have identified what things are important for life and what things are frivolous. I no longer have the same pursuits as my younger self, and I don’t feel the need to be in a group in order to be okay. Being able to think things through and make clear decisions without buckling to pressure from others is incredibly freeing.
Yet, I often seek the advice of older people in my life as I navigate work, home, family, and spiritual matters. There is great value in what they share with me and how they take the time to guide me.
What are some of the ways you enjoy getting older? In what ways do you embrace the fact that you are aging? I would love to hear your thoughts.