I once wrote a post which referenced a quote/philosophical question “how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” It’s true that, as you get into your 30s and 40s and beyond you feel older physically, in your bones, but not necessarily in your mind.
Personally I think having children ages you in different ways. Firstly being around people with children the same age is a great leveller. Adjusting to life as a new parent is so all encompassing and there are so many similarities in the kind of experiences each of us will have foisted upon us, from learning to deal with a vomiting toddler and a sudden onslaught of sicky laundry at 3am, to school applications or the rush of pride you feel with each milestone and accomplishment.
The fact that we are having children later and later in life means that there is a wider age range of people going through the same thing at any one time. I had JJ at 38 and EJ at 41 and I now have friends ranging from 30 to 48 and I don’t really differentiate between us by age. Having said that, I then have friends and family members who are close in age to me but who had children much earlier than me and I somehow feel that our ages have become insignificant too but for the opposite reason – because we will never be on the same page of the same chapter ever again.
But I do wonder about people who remain child free and then again those who have vast age gaps between two children.
The other thing about having children is that you lose sleep, and I’m convinced that lack of sleep, much the same as suffering great stress, puts years onto a person.
Under the circumstances it hardly seems to matter what you choose to do with your time, how you choose to dress, what you read or listen to – those are things determined as much by social class, personality and peer group as they are by age. But again, human beings, by nature, tend to gather into tribes and tribes can subtly form with an unspoken acknowledgement that a 0-5 year generational bond trumps other considerations. Even now I still feel a horrible sense of resignation when I own up to being 43 – I want people to believe I am 33 – is that mad? Maybe it’s also to do with the fact that I don’t feel like I’ve really attained the kind of status it’s possible to have at my age – god, some people are running multi-million enterprises by the time they hit 25 (admittedly that’s not the norm, but you see where I’m going with this).
And then it seems like every day there is someone bemoaning the onset of the 30s or the onset of the 40s and I always want to tell the 30 year olds to forget about it, embrace it – that’s the prime of your young life – just enjoy it! At the same time I have to acknowledge that I’ll probably look back at this part of my life when I’m in my late 70s and realise that this is still pretty great and who wouldn’t rather be in the middle than at the end?
Apparently Victor Hugo claimed that 40 is the ‘old age of youth’ and 50 is the ‘youth of old age’. I find the concept of either seems kind of depressing although I guess what he was trying to get at was that however you might feel looking back at your first four decades, you are still ‘young’ – you’re not a perky dew-kissed bud but neither are your petals drooping and discolouring: you are in full bloom!
How do *you* feel about your current age and does it affect your relationships?
(As an aside, in searching for a good quote for this post I stumbled across this which tickled me so I thought I’d share it because, you know, how true?!:
“By my age, my grandfather had started a family and defeated the Nazis. I just accidentally deleted Angry Birds by wiping Nutella off my iPhone” ) 🙂