Strangers noticed before I did. Suddenly it seemed, others were holding doors for me and letting me go before them, smiling kindly at my attempt to hold the door for them. At first I thought it was a welcome wave of civility, the lack of which I’d found infuriating in years gone by.
But gradually I recognized that others were seeing me as an “older” person. Certainly, I didn’t see myself that way. It took a while for me to realize and accept that others revealed a reality I hadn’t fully embraced. It’s ironic because inside myself I’m still 40. But I’m not. This self-view needs revision especially on days when I push myself too hard, stay up too late and feel exhausted after dinner and wonder what’s wrong with me.
Just recently I understood that there’s nothing wrong. I’m simply getting older. It seems obvious now but I completely missed it. Being busy day to day, I missed the years slipping away. It would be helpful to recognize and fully embrace that time has marched on. I find this realization to be an adjustment requiring time and patience, two characteristics I’d never fully cultivated for myself although I’ve had practice working on them for decades with the kids and co-workers.
Similar to a wish I had years ago for a book to guide me as I became a mother, I wish there was a personal guidebook to help anticipate and navigate this period of my life. But to me, it appears to be an individual-specific process with variables differing from day to day.
Some days the process involves accommodating unwanted fatigue and on other days celebrating feeling vibrant and strong. On all days being grateful, embracing and holding dear this stage of life with its own unanticipated challenges and joys.