Turning Into An Age

age, mothers, daughters, birthdays

Blowing away age myths.

My mom just turned ______.

Well, I’m not going to fill in the blank. Let’s just say she turned yesterday.

When we celebrate a birthday, why do we exclaim that we’ve “turned”? Like, “Joe just turned 60 and he’s so grumpy.” Or Jilly turned 13 last week and is now a true teenager.”What happens to us, when we “turn” into a new age? Do the wrinkles around our eyes suddenly crease deeper? Do our muscles turn stiffer, or weaker, on our birth date?

Or is it more ethereal than that. Do we suddenly turn into a “new” person, a different person,because the calendar says we’re now one year older?

All I know is that if I filled in the blank in the first sentence of this post , my mom would never talk to me again. Or worse, she’d talk to me, but believe me, her words would not be loving or kind.

And I understand that  –  now.

age, age discrimination, birthdays, mothers, daughters

Cute as a button, at any age.

When I was a child, I never knew my mom’s age. She never revealed it to my brother and me. Of course, at 5, or 10, or even 15, who cares how old our parents are? They’re ancient and we’ll never be that old.

But I do remember the time, when I was in my 20s, when my mom turned a certain number, let’s guess 53, and she told everyone at the birthday party that she’d just “turned” 43. I did the math, and wondered if she really gave birth to me when she was only a teenager. Because all along, I’d been told she didn’t have her first child until she was almost 30.

I approached my dad with the sensitive subject. He kind of smiled nervously, shrugged his shoulders, and suggested I ask my mom. From the nervous tic in his shoulders, I figured that was a bad idea.

For years after, I noticed that my mom gave a different number to her age anytime my bro or I asked her. One month she was 51, another time 48, three months later, maybe 52. And we were in our late 30s by then!

By the time I was 40 and lying about my age as competently as my mom, I snuck up to my dad and begged  him to tell me how old mom was. He shook his head at me in disappointment.  As sagely as the good witch telling Dorothy that all along, all she had to do was click her red heels to go home, my father said, “All you’ve had to do is check out her driver’s license.” After a pause he added, “but don’t ever tell her I gave you that advice!”

birthday, birthday party, greatgrandchildren, parents, mother/daughter

Sharing her wish with great-grandson, not her age.

So, I’m ashamed to admit right here, to my readers across the world, that I did just that. Me, a parent, an upstanding citizen with no arrest record (and just one speeding ticket…or two), flew across the country to supposedly “visit” my mother. Then I sent her off for an errand, and like a thief lusting for a hidden diamond ring, I peeked into her purse and found her driver’s license.

There it was – in black and white and I felt sorry all over.

mother, grandmother, age, birthday

Teaching her grandson that attitude is everything.

What did it matter how old she was? Age is only a number. Attitude is everything. She looks at least 20 years younger than her “licensed” age, she acts 30 years younger (I’ve been known to whisper to friends who ask: “my mom is 80 going on 18”). She’s beautiful and trim, laughs a lot, surrounds herself with delightful friends, yells at me if I try to carry her suitcase when she visits (“I’m perfectly capable, thank you!”), and reads voraciously.Honestly, I can’t keep up with my mom – her energy is friskier than a puppy’s, yet her wisdom hits the mark whenever I need a mother’s words to get me through life’s kinks.

 “People have perceptions of what 60 is supposed to be, and 70, and 80 and beyond. I don’t want to be categorized,” she insists.

Mom, I salute you.

And I’m so glad you didn’t “turn” into anything other than your most wonderful self on this birthday.

mother and daughter, birthday, age

Mother and Daughter – Ageless

27 thoughts on “Turning Into An Age

  1. My mom had me when she was 37, but I always had trouble keeping up with her, until her last 5-10 years. She was always in the garden, cutting the grass, doing the plumbing, chasing and jumping over fences to catch my brother, sewing, cooking, cleaning…and loving us. Funny – when I realized my Mom was old…I’m that age now. And it’s not so old! Yup, it’s just a number. I’m still as childish as I want to be, silly when it suits me, and ridiculous when I feel like it. Oh! the joy of being older and independent!

  2. Your Mom is a Force of Nature! An amazing person…it was so good to see her – and you – a year ago in OC! Please give her our birthday love or just say “hi” if the b word is a no no!

  3. Clever, funny and a beautiful tribute to a woman you obviously adore, respect and love! Thanks for sharing! I can never remember my own age, so I’m known to make something up. lol Unfortunately, I always seem to add a year or two.

    • Thank you! Actually, telling someone you’re older than you are could be a wise manipulation – then they’ll think, “wow, she looks really good for her age.” :=)

      Seriously, hoping ‘for her age’ gets out of the vocabulary as we stop stereotyping what an ‘age’ is, and just take the person at face value, wherever they are in their life’s journey.

  4. We do get too obsessed with a number. I tell people my age because I have been gifted with really great skin and everyone treats me like I’m much younger. I use my age to counteract how I look. At some point though the number carries too much weight. Then I’ll start playing around with it. 😉

    • I love your mom! Even though I’ve never met her, your right-on descriptions of her have made me feel as if I do know her. And I bet she’s all about attitude, not age, just like mine…

  5. Awww, that picture of you two at the end is wonderful. 🙂

    I admire your mom for never giving in. Maybe I need to start lying about my age now so I can perpetuate my agelessness later…. *grins*

  6. You and your mom look so good together! Actually my hubby just looked over this shoulder and read parts of your blog and asked questions about who you are. His mom just turned 81 yesterday. I can say that because she won’t be visiting this blog, I can almost 99.3% guarantee it. Almost all our parents are around the 80 year mark, give or take two years. Great story and pics.

  7. Love this. I too am blessed with a young mom but she lately announces her true age, “almost 88” so she’ll get compliments on how ridiculous that is and how wonderful she looks and is. I hope and pray I take after her. You and your mom look adorable.

      • I’m sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis. My mother and father moved in with my grandmother when her Alzheimer’s became dangerous for her to live alone. She had a fire incident while trying to cook from the bedroom/forgot she was cooking. So much to think of. Mom kept a journal through it all and I’ve considered trying to publish it. She’s completely honest about her frustrations, anger, etc. I wonder if it would be helpful to many people. We’ve shared it with quite a few already. Anyway, when my dad was diagnosed with dementia or brain shrinkage soon after my grandmother died, I was pretty angry that my parents’ retirement time together was not going to happen. But my mother said something incredible. She said, “I’m not angry because this is like a second chance for me to get it right. I didn’t know how to be a good caregiver for my mother but I’ll be better for your dad. Patience and entering the person’s world instead of trying to hold them in mine or remind them of what’s true is key. We’ll make it.”
        So, I wish you treasured moments and wonderful time with your mother.

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