#JustSay­ing

lt’s ob­vi­ous we’re all get­ting older, but I’m not sure we ever, ac­tu­ally, feel our age, writes GH colum­nist Su­san Hay­den

Good Housekeeping (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - Su­san Hay­den dis­co­pants­blog.com

‘Whether you’re 11, 46 or 73, you’re still try­ing to fig­ure out life and re­la­tion­ships’

My mom, who at 73 is com­pletely gor­geous de­spite only ever hav­ing used Lux and Pond’s on her face, reg­u­larly says two things about get­ting older: one, that it’s not for sissies and two, that you never re­ally feel your age. And while I don’t have the aches and pains she refers to, I to­tally get the lat­ter thing. Last week­end I took my teenage daugh­ter and her friend to watch Bish­ops play Ron­de­bosch at rugby. She doesn’t give a hoot about the game, of course – she was there to watch the boys.

As we walked into the school grounds a group of hand­some matrics passed us Ω just the kind of boys I would have gone for at her age. ‘Wow, nice-look­ing guys!’ I re­marked, and no sooner had the words left my mouth than I re­alised how hor­ri­fy­ing that must have sounded. Some­one’s mother, on the wrong side of 45, find­ing 18-year-olds good-look­ing. I en­deav­oured to shut my mouth for the rest of the morn­ing. The trou­ble is, I don’t feel 46. I know some stuff, but I still think I’m pretty clue­less. I def­i­nitely don’t know how this house I live in is mine, nor how peo­ple think I’m up to the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties I’m rou­tinely given. But, like ev­ery­one else I sup­pose, I man­age to wing it, pre­tend and get away with it most of the time.

But when I walked around those school grounds and saw the girls hud­dling and con­spir­ing and the boys be­ing loud and ma­cho, I re­mem­bered that time in my own life so well. It doesn’t feel any­thing like 30 years ago. When my best friend sends me a screen­shot of some­thing silly a school­mate has said on Face­book, I am in­stantly 14 and smok­ing men­thol cig­a­rettes be­hind the BP garage in Som­er­set West. It’s bizarre to me that I’m a wife and a mom with a car and a (sort of) job.

And when my own mom and her best friend are in the mood for rem­i­nisc­ing and start talk­ing about their days as young nurses at the Mater Dei Hospi­tal in East Lon­don and the crazy things that hap­pened on their ward, the years fall away. In their shared mem­o­ries and laugh­ter they be­come 16-year-old girls in starched white uni­forms, ner­vous and gig­gling at the grumpy old men in their care. When my 11-year-old gets in the car af­ter school with a wor­ried look on her face and tells me about the prob­lems she is hav­ing with a friend, I lis­ten to the lat­est

It oc­curs to me that maybe we are no age and all ages at the same time. Within us is ev­ery per­son we have ever been. Some­times we feel young and ill-equipped; other times, old and travel-weary. Life’s chal­lenges never di­min­ish, they just be­come dif­fer­ent. I see my­self in my daugh­ters and also in my mom. Once I was them, one day I’ll be her. I hope, in our sev­en­ties, my old­est friend and I will also laugh at what we got up to as teens and our grown-up kids will get a glimpse of who we were back then. And who we still are, deep down. ver­sion of the saga, then say a ver­sion of the same thing: these is­sues never go away. Whether you’re 11, 46 or 73, you’re still try­ing to fig­ure out life and re­la­tion­ships. And I re­mind her that she prob­a­bly knows as much as I do about how to re­solve it.

At a cer­tain age your par­ents stop be­ing your par­ents and be­come peo­ple, just like you, try­ing their best to be happy and make good de­ci­sions. You see the con­text of their lives and from the per­spec­tive of be­ing a par­ent your­self, you un­der­stand the chal­lenges they face and for­give their mis­de­meanours. My chil­dren are still young enough to think I have all the an­swers, even though I reg­u­larly tell them I don’t. And some­times I am struck by how very naive they are, which tells me I must be older and at least slightly wiser.

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