“You’re only as old as you feel.”
I don’t know who said this originally, but I think it’s true.
A few weeks ago, my family and I went to a birthday party for one of my husband’s friends. This is a friend from work and I had never met him or his wife before.
One of my daughters had a birthday party to go to at the same time at which a parent was required to attend (swimming party), so Chris and the other two girls went to their party before us and we met up with them after the swimming party. I arrived with things in full swing, feeling exhausted and not a bit social. I had a brief introduction to Chris’s friend and his (beautiful) wife and quickly found one of my good friends and promptly parked myself on the sofa next to her with the kids.
I like to people-watch and couldn’t help but notice how glamorous most of the people looked. There were only two other couples I could see with children and hard as I tried, I couldn’t help but feel self-conscious and…well, frankly…frumpy. I suppose coming from a pool party without the chance to get properly dolled up and having a totally ridiculous hair-night did not help! Never-the-less, I made an effort to go into the kitchen and at least say hello to some of the people Chris was talking to. The atmosphere was lively and really, I just wasn’t up to it. I wasn’t a bit sad when my youngest decided to cuddle up on me on the sofa. It meant I had a valid reason for not socialising in the other room.
It was finally time for the birthday cake and I was not a little surprised to find that Chris’s friend was 41 years old. Only two years younger than me! This guy looked easily 5-10 years younger than that! It wasn’t just his baby-face, but he had an energy and sparkle to him that was just full of life. His wife was the same. She was totally beautiful, slim, with long flowing hair and a smile that lit up the room. They just seemed to radiate happiness. My thoughts were confirmed when we came home and my oldest daughter said how surprised she was that he was 41 because he looked about 36. (From the mouth of an 8 yr old!)
It made me feel even MORE frumpy and miserable. Compared to him, I felt about 55!
The cynical part of me wanted to say,’it’s because they’re not worn down with three kids. I remember being like that pre-kids.’ But really, that would be totally unfair. I have been blessed with three absolutely gorgeous human beings who I love more than my own life. It would be sad, and just WRONG to try to blame all the negativity in my life on them! I have close friends who would give up everything to have children and can’t. No, I couldn’t possibly blame this one on the little people.
What happened then?
I thought hard about it for a few days after the party. In fact, it really bothered me. I decided that I had fallen trap to the idea that a 40-something year-old-mother of three should be serious and dignified…and ….boring! Ughhhh!!! Really? Said who?
How did that happen?
Well, I think gradually I just convinced myself that since I had kids, I needed to be the grown-up and somehow, being the grown-up and being silly and happy couldn’t exist at the same time. What a horrible existence! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! What a total load of rubbish! Somehow, I had let negativity seep into everything and didn’t even realise it! Drudgery was the rule of the day.
So, I’m setting out to re-convince myself that I am allowed to have fun, be happy and be silly! I am going to do my best to enjoy the blessings I have been given. A wonderful husband, three beautiful daughters and relatively few worries. I am reminded of the time in my life when I was recovering from my illness and every single moment of life seemed precious and magical. Nothing has changed. Life is still just as precious and magical, and in some ways, even more so! I am starting the journey back to that wonderful place. I owe it to myself and to my family to be the example of the life and person I want to be.
How about you? Have you ever found yourself feeling bogged down and ‘old’? Are you there now? Let me know in the comments below. I’m pretty sure together we can find that sparkle again.