I had a landmark birthday recently. And I totally expected to feel old. Which made me start to wonder: what does that even mean?
Old is a state of mind they say.
You’re only as old as you feel.
Don’t think of age as a number.
You’ve heard all the platitudes and sayings. But they are only words.
I like Mark Twain. He had killer wit.
And in this case, I totally agree with him. Age, like enduring the pain in boot camp, is all about mind over matter.
As my birthday neared, I kept dreading the big five-zero.
Would I really be decrepit on my birthday when I was totally able-bodied the day before it?
In fact, since I was 23 and got my first gray hair (I thank my firstborn for this), I’ve had an interesting idea about age and getting old.
Speaking of Which
While we’re on the subject of my firstborn, today is his birthday.
That’s right. Twenty-six years ago a cute little boy interrupted all the plans that went before him.
Because having kids does more than reshape your figure. And your finances. And your sleep schedule.
Suddenly the young couple becomes a young family. And family trumps all other things.
It’s hard to claim the age of 39 (which I found to be a perfect point in my life) when you’re standing beside a tall, handsome nearly-30-year-old to whom you gave birth.
Uh, yeah. I was still in middle school when I had him.
Not. (And even the thought of that is more terrifying than watching a scary movie marathon.)
My Body Has Other Ideas
The problem with this mind over matter thinking? Sometimes a body refuses to cooperate.
I’m not talking about those phantom aches and pains.
Imagine: You sit on the examining table and glance over at the ultrasound screen. Your name and date of birth are in bright characters at the top.
A neon sign blares “AGE: 50”
This test is in preparation for your first ever surgery the next week.
“Wow. You made it fifty years without ever needing anesthesia.” I didn’t imagine the hint of awe in the admission nurse’s voice.
Could someone stop reminding me of my age?
And my body—which refuses to act like the 30-year-old vessel I imagine– should be the engine of that train.
Let me say that when you’re recovering from a “minor procedure” you feel every second of your actual age. No matter what you claim, the 50-year-old cells don’t repair things at the rapid rate of 30-year-old ones.
Now back to the question posed in the title of this post. A woman is as old as the calendar says minus a decade or two if she’s taken care of her body.
Most people don’t look closely at the crow’s feet around my eyes or the brown spots on my jaw. They see the wide, white smile and twinkling eyes.
Those are the characteristics of someone whose age isn’t on her mind. She’s too busy living life to worry about some arbitrary number.
Ladies, the only thing that can make a woman old is her declaration that she is old.
What do you think makes a woman (or a man) old?
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