I’ve gotta just take a quick break from my story. Today is my birthday, and I’m turning 36. Getting older is a weird thing. When I was in my teens, or even 20’s, I thought 36 was soooo old. But now that I am 36, I don’t feel soooo old. Usually.
I bought my first house a little later in life than most people, I think. Had kids a little later. Although I got married at a pretty typical age, we struggled with infertility, so that’s just how it worked out for us. For a long time I still felt like a kid because I didn’t have all those ‘usual responsibilities’. But now that I’m an ‘older mom’, I feel like it puts me in a weird group. I don’t so much fit in to the other moms that have kids my age because they’re typically about 10 years younger than me, and are in to much different things. But moms my age usually have kids in middle school (or older), and aren’t worried about bedtimes and babysitters. And to throw another wrench in it, I’ve always looked much younger than I am, so people have always treated me as much younger than I am.
You could say I’m very chronologically confused.
But then I start an endeavor like this, a physical one. A very competitive one. And I suddenly start to feel much older than usual. I see people on the show, and they talk about how they’re the oldest contestant to do this, and the oldest to do that. I think Travis Rosen is currently the oldest ninja at 42, is that right? Man, that’s just not that much older than me. I don’t know what the average ninja age is, but I’m guessing 20 something. And I’m a loooong way from 20-something. How did this happen? How did I suddenly become the old one?
It brings a lot of conflicting emotions. It brings a lot of doubt. Will my body be able to physically handle this? I mean, I’m certainly not elderly, but I’m ‘middle aged’. Yikes. I haven’t kept my body in good shape all my life. Will it be able to change and adapt like I need it to? Will I get injured? Will I flat out fail? Do I have any chance of competing with these young whippersnappers that have been training their whole lives? And oh my gosh, I’m saying ‘young whippersnappers’!!
I also wish I would have taken this up a long time ago. Where could I be now if I had started in my late 20’s? I know that this wasn’t on my radar back then. I was fighting my body to start a family. I had totally different interests and priorities. So I know that really is the silliest of regrets. God has blessed me with 4 beautiful children, all in His perfect timing, and I wouldn’t change any of that journey for the world. But the what-if’s still plague me.
As I am getting older, more and more I realize how short life is. I actually catch my breath to think about how fast the time is flying. My first baby, the one that made me a mom…she’s starting kindergarten this fall. Where did the time go?? It needs to slow down! They need to stop growing! I know that it will literally seem like just a short season before she’s moving out on her own. I know they can’t stay little forever, and I probably wouldn’t really want them to, but man, I just panic thinking about this time being gone.
And getting older makes me think about how many missed opportunities I’ve had. What would my life be like if I had made different choices, better decisions? What have I passed up or missed out on because I was too scared, too lazy, too flippant? If I could pass one thing on to my kids, it would be to do it all, try it all, experience it all. Life is too short to sit on the sidelines. I like the saying, ‘Youth is wasted on the young’. If I could go back to my senior year of high school, when I had my whole life ahead of me, unlimited potential and unlimited energy, and I knew then what I knew now. Appreciate then the things that I appreciate now. Would I change anything? My first response would be yes, I would be more bold, more disciplined. But I’ve got to tell you, I have a wonderful husband, 4 amazing children, a family that loves and supports me. And if changing anything back then would change any of that now, I would have to say no.
So as an old fuddy-duddy talking to my kids, I would say please don’t ever let fear hold you back. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t let the pursuit of acceptance of others dictate what you do and don’t do in your life. Your family will love you no matter what, so spread your wings and try it all. Be bold, be focused, and grab life by the horns.
And I’m trying to take my own advice, and be an example to my kids. Yes, I might have been much farther along in this journey had I started 5 years ago. But I didn’t. I’m starting now. So I will no longer let fear control me. I won’t be afraid to fail. And let’s see how far I can get in the next 5 years. Hopefully when I blow out 40 candles, I will look back and see a turning point at 36, and will be able to prove to myself and my kids that it’s never too late to start something. Even if it’s a new interest, or might be harder because you’re older, just start. Just believe in yourself. Daily.