The Age Of Everything
Age is not so much a number as it is a state.
5 is a state. When you are a 5 year old kid, you are in a certain situation, in mind, body, circumstances.
You are short and live with parents, you express yourself well and mostly about things that seems trivial to adults -occasionally asking far too complex questions. At 5 you get dressed and undressed by yourself and use the restroom, you can write some letters and numbers, and your day is centered around play and chores.
17. What picture is created in your mind?
Probably you at that age, or your friends. Scruffy teen, emotions controlled by a tornado of hormones, erratic actions, desperate to belong, feeling invincible. Ring a bell? No clear plans for the future yet, but probably lots of dreams and a vague timeline on when big events will happen.
40. What is that to you?
A mature, wise, accomplished person? A few wrinkles, a solid career peppered with promotions and advancements along the way, maybe grown children, someone without insecurities and ready to dish out sound advice to anyone who asks.
I believe the issue most of us have with ageing is the idea we have of it in our minds, and where on the line of life we should be when a specific number rolls around.
When I graduated Nursing School, I knew I wouldn’t be a Registered Nurse forever, but wasn’t sure what I would find along the way. My friends, who studied with me have stayed the course. Most of them are still in Paris, some in the same hospital and ward they started at. A few have gone through extra training, moved, others work for NGOs and travel a ton… but all of them are still in the medical field, have grown in knowledge and skills over time and built a solid career behind them.
And that’s what should happen, right? Hm.
I have this little phrase that pops up every time I think of the word ‘should’: don’t should all over yourself. That’s right.
Should is a shaming word.
Think about it. Think of all the ‘shoulds’ in your mind right now and how you fall short on each one.
‘I should be mopping the floor, I should start working out, I should be kinder, I should do my taxes, I should have more faith, I should work harder at this mother thing, I should have accomplished more by now… ‘
You know what? should should sh*t. Pardon my French.
Yes it would be good to get all these things done, if you are in a place in your mind and heart where you can do them without shame.
And should you be further along by now? Should I? Nope.
Look around at every little gift, thousands of them, and they will somehow start multiplying as you start counting.
I look at the work I do with passion and wish I could do 8 hours a day everyday.
I look at my children, the souls God in his grace, love and trust placed in my womb and in my arms; I think of the man I get to see and hold everyday and share all of life’s goodness, ugliness, craziness with.
I see the country I live in, and the opportunity to discover a new culture; I think of the new, yet solid friendships that developed over the past 5 years…
I see myself. The tiny lines all around my eyes and the big wrinkle on my forehead that refuses to smooth out; I see saggy skin on my belly, proof it expanded and grew 4 children, and tried its best to return to original position.
And you know what? I am happy to be me. Not because I am better than anyone – who has time for soul-sucking comparison anymore? – but because I can look at myself with compassion. I see the journey I have been on, where I find myself today, as well as the road ahead.
For you see, a number is not a finish line, nor is it a starting point.
Even birth, our entry into the world, is not a starting point. All of life is a continued story punctuated by events big and small, sad and full of joy, and the millions of moments in between, holding so much potential for magic.
This is why age does not define me; this is why I smile when I think of my birthday in May, a new number the perfect excuse to celebrate.
I am growing on the inside, making room for more grace, compassion, faith.
I understand I am happier when I celebrate others instead of thinking “What about me? Where am I at? Panic now! I need to catch up!”
My heart is filled with gratitude for thousands of daily gifts; the giggle of my baby boy when I blow raspberries on his tummy; the laughter and squeals of children jumping on the backyard trampoline; tools in my hand to make our everyday sweeter and help hundreds of other families do the same; women of faith by my side, speaking their minds, sharing their stories and loving me in spite of my many shortcomings; a strong man who is creative and wise, ever so kind, ever so patient; a house, complete with doors and running water and a dog who likes snuggles; cars and public school and a peach tree in our yard.
Everything. If this is 40, I take it.
All of it.
Keren is a world traveler, wife and mother of 4 children -who keep her on her toes! In a past life she has worked as a Registered Nurse in pediatrics, Montessori assistant teacher, blog writer and French teacher. Her days are now filled with caring for her kids, managing two health and wellness communities -one in French and one for English speakers- as well as educating others in natural remedies and how to make everyday products using essential oils. Her favorite day is Sunday, when she gets to enjoy church community with her husband while kids are having a good time!