Last Thursday, I woke up fifty years old. I’d never woken up that old before, but I knew it was coming because I’d seen all the signs: elephant wrinkles … gray hair … sagging skin. (I won’t mention the movement on the back of the arms.) But there were other tell tales symptoms. For instance,
1. My forty-ninth birthday was a year ago. This was the most obvious sign, not to mention the fact that a lot has happened in the past twelve months. For instance, I began to notice unexplained aches and pains; I developed a comfortable adoration for my living room chair (along with it’s partner, Netflix); but most importantly, I was awarded a grandbaby which, of course, is the quintessential sign of old age. And now that I’m not only a mother, but a GRANDmother, I’ve realized that:
2. The Mom jeans bother me. This has been a gradual development over the years leading up to the fifty-cent mark. The high-waisted, out-of-style, sometimes-fit-depending-on-the-latest-weight-gain jeans didn’t bother me so much at thirty or forty, when I was still in the middle of the insanity that is childrearing. But now that I have time to notice my reflection in the mirror, I give added attention to my pants. It’s become a priority, and my teenagers are aiding and abetting me in my quest. But some things honestly DON’T both me now, and paradoxically, I think this is equally a sign of fifty-ish mentality. For instance:
3. I don’t care about the gray hairs any more. OH MY GOODNESS, those grays have been a concern these past few years. Do I cover them? Do I highlight them? Do I pull them out even though I’ll soon be BALD? I am proud to say these questions are dead to me. (For now, at least) I’m taking a break from that conundrum, and I’m opting to let the grays lie, or actually, to let them stick up in all directions like electrically charged wires among the otherwise calm and obedient browns … since the gray rebels have no respect for hair products. But now that I’ve said all that, I must point out:
4. I’ve discovered that a lot of things don’t matter, either way. Be it dorky jeans or gray hair or the flapping skin on the backs of my arms, not many things rank as “greatly significant” now-a-days. The grandbaby? Yes. The kids? Yes. Netflix losing all those awesome HGTV shows? Nah, not of great significance. (Except for Fixer Upper. Hello!) And of course, the hubby still matters. In fact, marriage is better than ever. Maybe it’s because the kids are almost grown. Maybe it’s because we’ve learned a lot over the years. Maybe it’s because we’re just too tired to argue anymore. Maybe it’s a combo. But whatever the cause, I am embracing the serenity of things that don’t matter. And the things that do. Which means:
5. I’m waaay happier with life. WHY, OH WHY couldn’t I have figured this out a few decades ago? Maybe I’m a slow learner, or maybe I’m just super stubborn, but for years I postponed my happiness, waiting for everything to be better or perfect or beautiful or EASY. Now I know the truth: life doesn’t get any better; it just changes a little, so I might as well let the joy reign no matter what’s happening around me. (Except maybe for that Fixer Upper debacle. No joy there.)
So last Thursday when I woke up fifty years old, I woke up as happy as I did the day before, and much happier than I did at forty, or thirty, or maybe even twenty. (Not sure I remember back that far.) But now I’m wondering … when I wake up on my sixtieth birthday, am I going to be even happier than today?
What do you think?
Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, releases in May. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts.
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