What’s in an age?

Age is seen in so many different ways.  Only last week the oldest person in Britain died at the age of 114.  Ethel Lang lived through six monarchs and 22 Prime Ministers. She was born the year before the end of Queen Victoria’s reign.  She was alive when the Wright Brothers had their first flight in 1903.  Can you just imagine all the amazing things she saw throughout her life?  Recently a family friend passed away at the age of 93. To live a long life, is it good genes, is it healthy living or is it just luck?

We get so hung up on our own timeline.  I am the perfect example.  When I turned 40 it was the hot topic of conversation for weeks before. I started to worry about turning 40, what it would mean and whether I would feel different.  Getting nearer to my birthday, a slight panic set in.  More and more people these days celebrate this milestone in style.  For me it was about being with family and friends.  When it did arrive, I did not wake up a different person, I did not gain more wrinkles overnight. In fact the day was perfect and turning 40 was painless.

Then we have all the other occasions in our timeline which are depicted by our age. Retirement, the end of our working life but which in the last decade has been moving further and further into the future. We hear so much about life expectancy and statistics about overweight and obese people fill the newspapers these days.  We need to see more of the positive. People are living longer.  They are going on to see not only their grandchildren but also their great grandchildren.  Healthy lifestyles are being lived. Research and techonology is also aiding to us living a longer life. Certainly from what I can see and in the town I live in there are a lot of people embracing life and enjoying the healthy opportunities around them.  Waiting longer to have to retire should not be seen with a grumble. We should be elated that we still have youth on our side and that we will be healthy enough to keep working.

We define our children by their ages which can be a little restricting for them.  Right from the beginning when they are first born there is the mother against mother battle of whose child smiled first, happily accepted their first mouthful of baby rice and that huge milestone of taking their first steps. If we hear that another child has done this before ours, our brain kicks into defence mode and urges our child to do the same when in actual fact as long as they are happy, healthy and contented it doesn’t really matter at what week or month these are achieved.

It progresses to their teenage years when they see turning 13 as becoming an adult; we as a parent see it as time to tighten the reigns.  My eldest is 13 and letting go of those reigns is like losing a part of me. I have spent many years teaching my children life lessons but now at 13 my daughter can now put those lessons into practice in her eyes.  I tell her it is not her I do not trust, it is the big world and some of the people in it.  It is a bit of a battle and I am hoping with guidance she can see I am just being a mother who cares.  I have to say, though, that overnight she seems to have turned into a young woman. Could this be peer pressure or is it her body telling her to blossom?

Age is not supposed to define people; we are supposed to be above all of that. Yet because it alters our appearance, it does affect the way we deal with others. I think Ethel Lang is an inspiration.  The mind and spirit are ageless.  It is only our bodies that betrays us.

Age is only a number.

*Louise Smith is in her 40th year of life and currently runs a  and ever growing construction company along with her husband. She has three children and a busy life with challenges along the way. Living in East Lothian and with a little bit of humour, she juggles working life with being a mum and wife.

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