“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
– Satchel Page
It’s an interesting question and one I know the answer to instantly. I would be 28.
28. Twenty-eight was a very busy, very wonderful year. Sure we were close to broke (that’s always cuter in hindsight than it is in the moment), the house needed a lot of work (it still does).
I had a new baby, lots of energy, and one less chin. Those were good times.
The thing with time shifting is that if I were 28 I would be deep in the midst of a home renovation when I was still excited about such things, and weigh less than I do now (depressing). I would have a newborn son but I would also have no daughter (yet).
I wouldn’t have half the friends I do now.
Time, and its passage, bring new experiences and people into our lives along with the wrinkling and the inability to eat a cupcake without gaining 10 pounds, too.
It’s a trade-off. Since both my children are the center of my existence and light of my world, I can’t imagine freezing time in such a way that they — and I — are never born (gasp!) or never age (hmmm … but no).
Age is handy for parenting. With age of your children, come milestones to meet. Talk? Walk? Eye roll?
Without aging how would we ever know we were doing it right? With aging of the parent comes wisdom and some measure of self-restraint.
Recently, a white hot rage came over me when I heard someone at a soccer game recently describe my son as “thick.” He has a 28-inch waist, I hardly think he’s “thick.”
I could have cheerfully climbed up three rows to explain that to the offender in excruciating detail.
With age you refrain from such things. In that way 43 probably beats 28 handily if only for the fact that I’m a lot less likely to have to make bail.
For the most part, I am one of those people who can easily forget how old I am. This is not so much because I’m fabulously evolved and in touch with my true self as it is that I am bad at math.
Mr. Wonderful is older than I am by 18 months, and for years now I’ve just made myself whatever age he is. This works out nicely because on the rare occasions when I am required to work up my actual age, I am pleasantly surprised. “Oh I’m younger!” This is followed by “Hey mister, when did you get so old?”
I’m still adorable. See? Act your age? I’m not sure what that looks like anymore. Act your age not your shoe size is a popular put-down. My shoe size is 9.
I think I was pretty cool when I was 9. I can’t be sure because that was a long time ago.
I’ve got a few friends I’ve known since childhood and no one has mentioned “when you were 9 you were kind of a jerk,” so I’m thinking I did OK.
Still, I wouldn’t be 9 again on a dare. Sure my complexion was flawless, but to have so little control of your own life? No thank you.
As I age, I find I am far less cute than I was 20 years ago — and that it bothers me far less than it would have back then. I remember worrying “does this make my butt look big?” back when nothing did. Now the answer is “probably, yes” and I find it doesn’t matter much anymore.
Some say “letting yourself go.” I say “letting go of the need to worry so much about everything that doesn’t matter.”
Do you like me? Am I measuring up? Fitting in? Will I stand out? Now I worry about things that do matter. Do you like my kids? Are they measuring up? Fitting in? Standing out? Much better, see?
The thing is that when I think about staying forever young, I think of all the things I’d miss as I — we — grow older. As much as I’d love to return to my youthful complexion (and waistline), the heart, soul, and joy of experiencing the future — complete with aging — would be too much to miss.
When you think you can’t bear getting even another day older — think of the alternative and smile. The blessing of growing older is the true birthday gift, each day a ticket on a journey that is not promised to anyone. Count your candles and count your blessings. Use it wisely.