on age
Writing

On Age and Growing Old Gracefully

When I was growing up people were forever telling me how old I was for my years, and I was regularly left alone to look after my younger half siblings. To give you an example, one day my half brother and I woke up to find a note from our mother saying she had gone out and would be back soon. I was eight, he was five. The phone and electricity had been cut off that week and there wasn’t a huge amount of food in the house. Later that afternoon, literally hours later, her friend’s daughter came to collect us and take us to their house. Her mother had had a crisis apparently, and our mother had gone to her rescue. My mother never saw that there could be a problem doing things like this, because I was so grown up for my age. I was a sensible kid and would never do anything that would cause us harm or get us into trouble.

Ten years later, having left home three years beforehand, I thought I was so wise. I would regale people with stories from my childhood and they’d tell me I simply had to write a book. They would tell me how mature I was for my age and lavish me in compliments. I would walk into a party and be the life and soul of it. Back then there wasn’t much I didn’t think I knew. In actual fact I knew very little.

ren and Freddy maltby street market Ten years after that I had started mellowing out a bit. Over a decade of alcohol and substance abuse and two emotional breakdowns will send you one way or the other. I ploughed my heart and soul into a business but rushed it and paid the price with being left in financial ruin. It was tough but I learnt a lot of life lessons in the process. Several years after this I became a mum, and many things I thought I knew from my past life were rendered useless. I had to suck up the learning curve and get on board with what my bundle of joy was going to bring.

I think I have learnt more in the last five years than in the previous thirty to be honest. About putting my needs aside and immersing myself in the needs of my family. About diplomacy and when to keep my mouth shut. About not judging others and not caring if I’m being judged. About loving through the most challenging of times – even though I’ve had days when I’ve hated my gorgeous hubby for absolutely no reason at all. About having faith that the tough bits will pass and won’t last forever.

I wish I could say that age has brought me wisdom, but I’m just muddling through like everyone else. Learning from my children each and every day. Age has definitely brought inner peace to my world though, that I do know. I don’t think I’ll ever be fully comfortable with the wrinkles and bags under my eyes, but I can safely say that I wouldn’t trade places with my former self for anything!

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mummytries

Full time wife and mummy to three, home educator, blogger, wannabee chef and published author. Follow me on my journey through life...

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19 Comments

  1. vivienne O'BOYLE says:

    As the eldest child of six, shouldering much responsibility for my siblings, being brought up in a house fuelled with anger and violence; I’ve finally ‘let it all go’. It’s took me 66 years though!
    I’m now embarking on my lifetime passion to write. I suddenly feel liberated, happy, content and so very grateful that I can get out of the bed in the morning and do the things I now enjoy.
    Don’t let an old person in your body!
    Oh, don’t forget a cup of Nettle tea!!!

  2. mummytries says:

    I love his poem They F*** You Up, very poignant. I really hope to be able to help people with my book…

    I think most people muddle through hon, something I realised a long while ago is that everyone has their problems. No-one is perfect or has the perfect life, and if someone claims to they are telling big fat fibs xxx

  3. Your first paragraph made me sad and made me recall some of Philip Larkin’s work. I’m so glad you could work past the bad bits and you’re not helping others do the same.
    I also like that you’re muddling through like the rest of us, because when you are just paddling furiously to stay afloat, it’s a lonely place and it’s nice to be reminded that those you admire and care about are doing the same x

  4. mummytries says:

    You have just summed up the story of my childhood lovely – emotionally abandoned, child in an adults body. I’m pretty sure our own kids will be thinking very differently… really hope so anyway!!

  5. I do identify with the feeling older than my children at a similar age. I wonder how they feel about themselves? I wonder if I felt older compared with the way my friends felt, or whether we all felt the same.
    I think there is something about being emotionally abandoned by your parents that makes you feel grown up, you have to rely on yourself so much. I always felt like an adult in a child’s body, even though I see now that I lacked maturity and insight in many ways.

  6. mummytries says:

    Age really does bring peace. I used to be so highly strung but am really chilled out, and it takes a lot to get me stressed. Unless we’re talking about my kids of course, they know which buttons to press! Don’t they all? xx

  7. mummytries says:

    Thanks so much xx

  8. mummytries says:

    Being comfortable in your own skin often comes with age doesn’t it… and as you said acceptance xx

  9. mummytries says:

    Thank you so much Astrid, I’ve certainly learnt a lot from my three over the past five years!

  10. mummytries says:

    Something I’ve learnt is that time is often the only true healer. You need to be able to step back in the first place, to get the distance needed to start moving forwards xx

  11. mummytries says:

    They really do keep us on our toes 🙂

  12. mummytries says:

    You are lovely my dear! It’s funny how much we think we know at 18 isn’t it! I’m kinda dreading the teenage years with my kids because if they are half as ‘assertive’ as I was then boy are hubby and I in for it xx

  13. There’s a lot in this I identify with, especially all those phases of knowing-everything-knowing-nothing life takes you through and the inner peace that motherhood brings. I hope that lasts! I haven’t had such a roller coaster as you to deal with (apart from internally maybe), but I still wouldn’t trade places with my younger self for anything. I’m not sure I agree that age hasn’t brought you wisdom though – these sound like very wise words to me 🙂 xx

  14. I think there is wisdom in understanding what we have learnt, and what we haven’t yet, and I certainly agree that age brings with it a certain amount of peace. I wouldn’t trade places with a younger me either xx Thanks so much for linking to #ThePrompt x

  15. It sounds like you really have had a journey! I totally agree with you that children teach us more than we could ever imagine #ThePrompt

  16. Fab post lovely. Age does bring peace I think, or at least the distance from the past wrongs or hurts does! xx

  17. This is so beuatifully written. I love your reflections on what you did and didn’t learn as you aged. It’s true that sometimes we learn from younger people or children (be it our own kids or soemone else’s). #theprompt

  18. Wow, sounds like you’ve had a really rough time, but also that you’ve come out the other side and seem a much stronger person because of it.
    I think you’re right about ago though. It doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom, but (for me anyway) an acceptance of who I am and learning to be happy with that. xx

  19. You’ve certainly had a rough ride!
    But you still here giving it all you’ve got and that’s all any of us can do.
    Good post. X

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