I had the thought a couple of days ago that what makes me feel my age more than I think others do is that I didn’t have children. I never shared those milestones of a child’s life that make you think, “wow, they are getting older … and so am I.”
I don’t think I was aware of my aging self until about four or five years ago when it seems that suddenly everything just seemed to break down. A knee injury, a foot injury, crinkles at the corners of my eyes, and yes, this is gross, chin hairs. I have developed the benign essential tremors my mother has and her thin skin that bruises easily and leaves red, ugly blotches on my arms. I got help for the knee and the foot but I’m completely undone by the hairs, bruises and tremors.
If I had kids would these be just a normal progression of aging, something I would take in stride? Would I have been more accepting of aging or at least been aware of it as it happened? Or, would I maybe think that having children was responsible for aging?
All my life, people have been surprised when they hear how old I am, thinking I am much younger. My standard response is that I didn’t have children! But now I wonder.
I had a boss about forty years ago who told me that I should have children so I’d know what was really important (probably during one of my whines about some inconsequential work thing and how it was affecting me). It took me all of those forty years since to figure out what he meant. I’ve had the luxury of being totally self-absorbed since I was nineteen, viewing the world as if it revolved around me. At sixty-five, I’m suddenly aware that my life is so small that what is likely normal aging for others is a complete and devastating surprise to me. It’s not a happy thing.
I think it might be time to find a way to make my world bigger – take my focus off ME and MY aging and place it somewhere out there in the big, wide world.