Back in the spring, I went on a fabulous tropical vacation. Many days of fun in the sun! And yet, that picture you see above? Me. “Enjoying the sun” while wearing a long-sleeve shirt, hat, sunglasses, and probably a gallon of sunscreen. Ok, maybe half a gallon. You get the idea.
On the other hand, my young daughters scurry about all day long without a care in the world. No sun shirt and sunscreen only when I force them to sit still long enough.
Somewhere between us, the teens and twenty-somethings, lazily relax by the pool, not only avoiding the sunscreen but using baby baby oil and other tan-enhancers. I tried to be one of them once. I found out pretty quickly that I just turn into a lobster.
So why the change from my young daughters to me?
As we get older, we often bemoan many of our physical and mental changes. But many of the changes actually serve us well.
Learning to stay out of the sun because I got a sun burn? Check. Reaching the age where I have the good sense not to ride a scooter full speed into the picnic table? Check. (I’ll let my daughter tell you about the hospital trip with a scooter handle-bar lodged in her mouth).
Yes, my daughters can certainly do things I can no longer achieve (splits anyone?), but I also don’t have a reason or need to do these activities. So should I miss this ability?
I don’t think so.
I can do many things that my kids can’t do. Lift heavy stuff, focus for more than 10 seconds, carry babies comfortably on my hips. And if I take good care of myself, I ought to be able to do these things for years and decades to come.
We change developmentally our whole lives, from helpless infants to wise perennials. And while we frame the development in positive terms our first twenty-five years or so, we begin to act as if these changes are all negative as we get older.
No, I can’t do a backwards somersault any more. But I can create a business plan, volunteer to help in a local homeless shelter, and sit and focus on my work for extended periods of time so that I can get things accomplished.
As we move from stage to stage in our lives, eventually becoming perennials, we should focus on how our bodies and minds adapt to the aging process, adding and subtracting skills along the way. I cannot do some of the physical things my daughters can do, and I can do some things my 70-something mother can’t do.
But all three of us are successful at our given stages.
Why do we beat ourselves up about “getting older?” Yes, our bodies and minds change as we get older as we age, but the changes don’t keep us from living a good life. We want children to learn to walk and talk and become independent. We also hope they turn into perennials who take care of others around them.
So see the many strengths we possess at each stage of our lives. Because while my daughters are doing the back flips, and I am carrying the heavy grocery bags, my mom is there too, directing all the traffic.
What developmental changes do you think serve you well? Tell us about it in the comments below!