Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

[breadcrumbs]

Should Age Be a Private Matter?

A few  nights ago our family was invited to the100th birthday party of my mother-in-law’s cousin.  To me, the celebration of his becoming 100 indicated that he and all around him were grateful for his blessings of a long life.

It was a time to announce his age to those who were there. Something that is often private was the topic of the event.

My MIL has lots of friends around that age, including someone from our synagogue  who turned 100 a few months ago and celebrated with a party in synagogue on Shabbat. Oh, and did I  mention my MIL’s best friend, Anne who turned 102? That was a milestone which our family and Anne’s children celebrated at a restaurant.

Until about 6 years ago, my mother-in-law’s age was private. No one seemed to know her age and if they did they certainly didn’t discuss it.

After that, her age was officially public knowledge and no longer a taboo subject.

So I’m wondering: Why wait till you’re 90 or 95 to announce your exact age? I think it should be something to boast about when we are still in our 30’s, 40’s and beyond.

I guess this belief stems from my childhood and how I was raised.

The adults in my life always discussed their age. I had two sets of grandparents growing up and I knew all of their ages as a child. And that’s not just because I was a nosy kid who asked a lot of questions! (although that may have something to do with it.)

But seriously, when my maternal grandmother was in the hospital and not feeling very well the last year of her life, she maintained her sense of humor and shall I say, brutal honesty.  When the doctor came in to examine her and asked her how old she was, she said, “90 1/2,” in a decisive tone of voice. No one was going to leave out that half a year that she was proud of.

Every year one of my sisters writes a poem using my mom’s age that year as a takeoff for a theme. That poem gets emailed to all the cousins and friends by my mother herself.

So I grew up with the adults around me treating age as a number denoting an accomplishment.  Nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Another birthday means we have arrived. And thank G-d we have more time on this earth to accomplish things.

Still, age continues to be a taboo subject in some families and cultures. It’s still considered impolite for children or adults to ask one another how old they are. I get that.

But I wonder whether the hiding of one’s age or considering it not a topic of conversation in polite company contribute to unhealthy messages about our aging bodies and souls.

Personally, I think it’s a good thing to be open about one’s age, because it helps us grow and move forward emotionally. I believe that when we pretend to be what we are not or forget that we are 56 (that would be me!), maybe we won’t take care of our health. We may neglect ourselves and skip mammograms or colonoscopies or bone density exams or other checkups… because we think we are still 25 or 35.

By contrast, when we focus on the positive aspects of growing old such as having more wisdom and experience we embrace our age.  Rather than getting depressed when we reach a new decade or big number,  I do think it’s better to reach a place of acceptance.

That celebration doesn’t have to be in the form of a party or getting gifts. It can be in the simple acknowledgment of our moving forward. Our growth. It could be a time to take stock of what we’ve achieved the past year or years and what we want to achieve in the next year. A time for gratitude and prayer.

Children are proud of their age because it denotes being more grownup and having more privileges. To them every fraction of a year counts. My young grandson has been keeping track of when his 5 1/2 years became 5 3/4 until he turned 6.

We don’t have to have that kind of glee for a new age or fraction of an age. And some people choose to keep it private. Whether we admit it or not, we feel our age. Every. Single. Day.

But instead of seeing that as a negative, let’s see it as a reminder of our blessings.

So the next time the subject comes up, be proud of your age. Whether you are 20, 30, 40, or 50 +, let’s celebrate our birthdays, not just with a party and lots of cards.

Oh and by the way, my birthday is coming up soon in a few months and I’ve been reflecting as I reach that number and as I watch others have birthdays. It could be this post is my way of working through my unconscious anxieties about the new number. Or maybe I’m just reflecting on a common societal trend of age and privacy. I don’t know.

All I know is that I  pray that we can all embrace and celebrate our birthdays by having our cake and eating it too. That means being grateful, taking care of our physical and emotional health and reaching out to loved ones.

 

 

 

 


What I Needed to Learn, I Learned in Kindergarten

silhouette-kids-holding-hands

I was invited to a  Shabbos party at my pre-school grandson’s school, where he was chosen to be  the Shabbos Abba.  On Friday morning, I dropped everything and drove over to his classroom, met my DIL there and we observed my grandson  having this special party with his friends — with grape-juice, challah and other goodies.

It was at this party that I realized something about myself that I hadn’t known before. Something that made me feel more grown up than I’ve felt in years. More mature, evolved and settled.

I may have thought about it briefly over the past years, but hadn’t articulated it clearly in my mind.  Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I was too embarrassed to admit it. Maybe I never even thought too much about it.

What was this feeling?

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT….DONE!

Doing a Mitzvah!

Zooming in on my Mitzvah Guy!

Whew. There. I admitted it:  Having the sensation that it is okay to have done the Mommy thing years ago, and moved on.

As I viewed  the classroom with its bulletin boards, various stations, book shelves, colorful cubblies, circle time rugs, toys and art and musical instruments, I felt kind of detached.  Yes, it was all very sweet and nice but I zoomed right in to view my own grandson (who of course was the most adorable), snapped a few pictures, felt the pride and enjoyed. He, and my role as Grandma were key here. Nothing else.

There was none of the nostalgia for the good-ol’-days as a Mommy.

I felt completely comfortable in my role as middle-aged grandmother. Call me old. Call me complacent. Call me whatever you want to call me. But I really was not in the least bit sad about being older than every other person in the room – even the teachers.

BEING OLD IS GREAT

bouncing

It wasn’t easy to come to that conclusion. I’ve been so busy the past few years writing and reading about the empty nest syndrome with its intermittent loneliness, alleged boredom, painful nostalgia, ubiquitous regret and all the other supposed symptoms ot the midlife  crisis or period. It’s been a given that we  midlifers are forever  pining for the good-ol’ days of carpools, soccer practice, PTA meetings, and child bearing years.

To an extent we are. We miss the past, and want the feeling of watching our little ones grow and develop. The feeling of the unknown, how it’s all going to turn out is kind of exciting and non-threatening.  And when that is all over, it feels as if we have nowhere to go now. Nothing  to look forward to. Nothing to plant and grow anymore. We feel as if our work is done.

But me,  I’ve reached a point where I no longer miss those days. I’m seriously grateful for being at the stage that I am.

I don’t want to go back to those early parenting days anymore. No way.

Do I have the feeling of life having passed me by and that the good times are over? Nah.

I remember the good times and fun times of the cute kids and watching them grow, develop and learn alongside their peers and cousins, but I do not miss them. That’s because I also remember the difficult times.

The calls from the teachers that my kid has to sit detention. The endless carpools, the hours with them doing homework, the arguments and debates with those sons who were not as docile (euphemism here. Use your imagination, okay?) as the others and whatever angst raising children entails.

All that is over. No more having to get babysitters. No more dealing with discipline and rude behavior (yes, kids were sometimes disrespectul).

Bottom line, knowing that our children have turned out really well is a comfort to me. We’ve done our work as parents, and now we get to be a couple. My husband and I have done a great job, and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy our own stage.

The kindergarten visit taught me the lesson of being happy with the stage that I’m in.

I had my lesson about the true reality of  Empty Nest Syndrome, and it was time to go home to my own peace and quiet. How wonderful is that?

How do *you* feel about being in the Empty Nest Club? Do you pine for the good ol’ days? Do colorful kindergartens make you wax nostalgic?

(Photo credits: Property of M. Hendeles and  Image credits Publicdomainpics.net)

 


Out of the Mouths of Bubbies!

Ahhh…Grandmothers just say the most amazing things…don’t they (we?).

Bubby conversations. Or as I like to call them: Bubby Convo’s. Yes, whenever I talk to my friends, and especially my middle-aged (!) friends, many of whom are grandmothers, I learn so much from them. I am always surprised, impressed, excited, and enlightened when I hear a quotable quote from my friends who share my role as doting grandmother, but more so – insight-seeking grandmother.

And often that means that I have – you guessed it – more material for my blog, and other writing!

And so, I have decided to start something new: a collection of quotable quotes from my friends – those who have accumulated a great deal of life wisdom, and have come up with some great one liners.

Here is one:

From a 50-plus friend of mine – “I WANT TO DIE YOUNG AND GROW OLD”

How many of us bemoan the fact that we are growing older?

Well, what’s the alternative? (that was a rhetorical question – please don’t answer it).

Seriously, it’s a reminder to us that that growing old gracefully (whatever that means!) is our goal. With the help of G-d!

Another one:

From a 95 year old woman, very dear friend of our family, —spoken in convo to my husband and myself in a car ride home from a wedding –

“IT’S FUNNY – I STILL SEE YOU AS CHILDREN, AND  FORGET THAT YOUR GENERATION IS ALL GROWN UP…..”

How profound – another reminder to me – that “hey – I’m not the only one getting older! Everyone does too!! Get used to it, and try to relate…” (although it can be hard sometimes, as this wise woman recognized)

One more quote:

From a 50 plus friend of mine – as posted on her social media site online –

“IF ONLY THEY GAVE AN AWARD FOR PROCRASTINATION…..”

Gotta love her honesty.

And this one’s for you – my dear friend, Savta B, I followed your subsequent suggestion – that I blog about that quote! (without procrastinating? Huh?)

Stay tuned for more quotable quotes from the mouths of Bubbies, Savta’s and others……to be continued!


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