islandparent Health Aging as an Adult

Aging as an Adult

As a frustrated eight-year old, I remember writing a poem called “when I am nine” that described all the many possibilities the world would have to offer me when I was just a little bit older—old enough to get my ears pierced was the main one—but also, old enough to stay up later, old enough to have more friends over for my birthday party, not quite old enough to babysit yet but old enough to start thinking about the coveted Saint John Ambulance course.

Now, of course, growing older has less appeal, and with a milestone birthday approaching I’m realizing that the second half of my life will be quite different from the first. Ahead of me are inevitable life events, ones I am fortunate not to have experienced yet: my parents passing, health problems, my hair going grey. And yet, I realize that for the rest of my life I will look back at myself now and wish I was that young again. As one friend put it, growing older is a gift, or, as my grandmother always used to say, it’s better than the alternative.

The other day I went to a new hairdresser.

- Advertisement -

I’m not for everyone, he warned me. Then he proceeded to tell me that my hair was “losing pigmentation.”

Yeah, you’ll have a big grey streak here, he noted matter-a-factly as he combed through my part. I texted my What’s App mom friend group after the appointment to vent. Everyone chimed in how they were starting to get greys too. When I mentioned it to my Pilates teacher, she simply stated well, that is what happens as we get older as if expecting anything else just didn’t make sense.

My daughter is starting kindergarten soon and one of the things I’ll have to grapple with in the second half of my life is her growing up. Life as I’ve known it for the past few years is ending and in its place is a new life with an older child, one who talks and wipes her own bum and doesn’t need a highchair or soft food or sleep sacs or Baby Yum Yums. At soccer, she now kicks the ball instead of just running over it. She can sit through plays and go hiking without a carrier. Although there’s still the occasional tantrum, she more often negotiates with the prowess of a Bay Street lawyer.

Recently, we went on a plane for the first time since the pandemic. It was the first time in my daughter’s memory. She got scared of the small bathrooms and didn’t go the entire time. As we landed, she started crying because her ears hurt and she had refused to suck on the candy we’d given her. After we landed back home, I tried to comfort her by telling her what a great traveller she’d been. You know, the plane is the worst part of travelling—it’s being in other places that’s really fun and seeing different people. She looked at me and countered but the plane was the best part!

It was then that I realized how many more wonderful things are ahead of me in this next decade. I’ll have a not-so-little child who just enthused about flying minutes after wailing from ear pain and not peeing for hours. She dances in the living room and makes cards to give to everyone she meets. We can go camping without hauling a pack and play and sippy cups. We can sit in coffee shops without running after her the whole time. Soon, she’ll have sleepovers in our rec room and have crushes and play in real soccer games. We can learn about stars and make models of the solar system. Eventually, she can get her ears pierced and we can get pedicures together. Maybe she’ll even make me pancakes. She looks forward to getting older too—being able to read soon, using a real computer, being a cool “big kid.”

It’s time I start seeing the bright side as well. Life might be different with a few grey hairs, but it’s also the start of a new era. A different season of parenting. Although I may already have my ears pierced and be well past the babysitting stage, I also have a lot to look forward to as well—regardless of the ticking of time.

Julia Mais
Julia Mais
Julia Mais is a policy and communications professional in Victoria B.C. She looks for beauty in the everyday through writing, photography and the outdoors. She lives in a messy, cheese-filled home with her husband and preschooler.