A New Chapter

I’ve never claimed to be good at aging gracefully.  Far from it.  I tend to resent most of the changes that aging has caused:  the sags and wrinkles, the sore joints, the inability to read small print, the forgetfulness, the loss of strength and stamina.  I complain bitterly about all of it, and am often shocked when I look in the mirror and am literally “faced” with the difference between how I picture myself and how I actually look.  When I shop for new clothes, I find myself wondering if a certain style is too young for me, and yet I’m still offended if a sales clerk offers me a senior discount.  Far too often, my reaction to aging has been a mixture of confusion and dismay.

And yet……I can’t deny that there are a few benefits to being a “woman of a certain age.”  I have a far better sense of self than I ever did when I was young, and even not-so-young.  I have acquired a certain bit of wisdom that steadies me when I’m faced with the roller coaster of current news and trends, and I’m thankful for the perspective that my age has given me.  If I’m entirely honest, I have to say that I actually value the intellectual and emotional aspect of aging, and what I resent is really just the physical part.

The good news is that I’ve finally figured out that there’s something that makes coping with my aging body just a little bit easier, and that something is being a grandmother.  My three grandchildren bring me great joy, but as odd as it sounds, they also help me accept all the physical changes that I used to resent so much.

So what if I have a sagging chin?  I’m a grandmother, not a new mom!  And those reading glasses I have stashed all over the house (and in my purse, and in my car) are normal for grandparents.  My grandparents wore glasses all the time, after all.  And maybe I am wearing “mom jeans” when I go out in public, but what else do you expect from a woman is actually a grandma?  Looking at it that way, I’m actually dressing young for my age.  Embracing my role as a grandmother is truly kind of liberating, because it takes away the pressure that so many women my age feel to look and act younger than we really are.

TheColemanGrandkids-97 2When I was younger, I never thought I’d be happy spending a Friday night rocking a baby to sleep or bathing a toddler, but the truth is, I am.  Sometimes I still feel a bit surprised by the fact that I have three grandchildren now, but trust me, it’s a happy surprise.  I’m no longer young, and that’s a fact.  But luckily, I’ve got three precious reasons to be grateful for this new stage of my life, and when all is said and done, all I really feel is blessed……

89 thoughts on “A New Chapter

  1. Heartwarming post Ann. Clearly you’re enjoying all the joys that your new role (and age) has given you. What a beautiful gift the years have given you in your precious grandchildren. Blessings and love to you all. ❤️🙏

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  2. All so true. The other piece is, I am amazed at my body. I have twin 3yo grandsons whom I take care of regularly. They weigh 35+ lbs each, and yet I pick ’em up, tote ’em around, and my body is saying, bring on more. That surprises me.

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    • That is impressive! I still carry the four-year old around sometimes, but there’s only one of him. It is truly amazing how strong we can be when we need to be though. So I guess even as we age, we need to appreciate all our bodies can do.

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  3. I absolutely love hearing Caelan or Rowan call me “Grandma,” and instead of that making me feel old, I feel blessed. And I totally agree with you about the benefit of gaining (hopefully) maturity and wisdom with the years. And I wouldn’t want to go back in time and be young again unless I could take those two things with me.

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    • Me either, Dena! Ideally, I’d have my physical body of about twenty years ago back, but with all the emotional and mental maturity I have now. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way, so we’ll just be content with what we have. And grandkids sure help!!

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    • Thanks, Ally! I think it is so hard in our society, especially on woman, because there is so much pressure to “look young.” Sometimes I almost feel as if I have to apologize for not having a face lift! But when I remember I’m a grandma, it makes accepting my aging face and body so much easier.

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  4. This is a lovely post, Ann. You’re three little ones are adorable. You must be very proud of them, and it’s great that you can enjoy them being in your life as much as they are. Ageing is difficult for most of us although, as you say, there are many benefits to growing older too. I have four youngish grandchildren who I love to bits. I don’t see as much of them as I’d like to because of the distance between us, but the time we spend together is wonderful.

    I know exactly what you mean about the person in the mirror. I’m not a proud person, but I do hate my wrinkles and saggy bits, although they haven’t entirely run amuck yet and hopefully won’t for quite some time. However, I still feel pretty young inside but consider myself a bit wiser and more mature, as you mentioned. I also find I have more patience now, and I like to think more understanding of others these days.

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    • The weird thing about aging, I think, is that we tend to feel much younger than we actually are, so the face we see in the mirror is often a shock. There’s often a huge disconnect between our physical self and our emotional self, I think. Grandkids help a lot, and I know I’m lucky that mine live close enough that I can see them often. I’m glad you get to see yours, even if not as often as you’d like. One way or another, we have to embrace who we are at this age, wrinkles and all!

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  5. Congrats on the youth and wisdom that being a Grandma brings Ann. There is something comfortable about being satisfied with what we do and what we have as we get older. Stay well and hug this grandkids. Allan

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  6. I always said I want to look like a grandmother when I am one. I was an older mom especially for here and was old enough to have been my youngest child’s grandmother. Thankfully, no one asked if I was a grandmother…it won’t bother me now.

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    • I went grey very early, so I still dye my hair. The the number of sags and wrinkles I’m sporting these days still surprises me a little every time I look in the mirror. But you’re right, aside from the physical aspect there is a lot to be said for being “older.”

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  7. Aw, what a sweet photo of that trio! You’re blessed, Ann; no wonder you’re happy and at peace with this stage in your life. When I think of how many people I went to school with who are no longer alive, it gives me a new perspective on the aging thing. And I like how you said the mind can still stay sharp, the patience can lengthen, and the spirit stay young. You go, girl!

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    • Thanks, Debbie! And yes, we’ve reached the age when we’re beginning to lose a lot of our contemporaries, and I do think that makes us appreciate life that much more, because we are forced to see just how fleeting and fragile it really is. As long as we are young in spirit, we can stay happy and content!

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    • It’s funny how the milestones we think will be hard turn out to be okay, isn’t it? I’m so glad that you’ve come to accept aging as a good thing…because there really are positive aspects to the whole thing, reading glasses and all. Thanks for the comment!

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    • It’s not, but so far they’re actually pretty protective of him. And the two older ones usually get along well, although they tend to compete more for the same toys! They’re all sort of like siblings…

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  8. I always love how honest you are in your posts. I relate to so much that you write. In this case, it was interesting because I’ve never been upset about the physical changes in my aging. Weird, since I was quite an attractive, spritely, vibrant young woman. I laugh at the fact that I don’t get looks like I used to by the male species, that I can’t charm someone any more just by my looks, and that I’m often overlooked when with a group of people. That was not the case in my 20s and 30s and even some of my 40s. But the lack of attention helped me feel like I could finally just be ME and I felt so much freer to do and say what I wanted. (You explained this much better in your post.) I did have a difficult time imagining myself as a grandmother, though, and when the first one came along, as much as i loved her instantly, I didn’t spread the news that I was a GRANDMOTHER. I finally got over that – she’s 13 now and I see myself in her eyes – a warm, happy, loving “older” woman. I think I’m good with that; my five grandsons would add “and she makes really good cookies.” Okay – I’ll take that too in my “old” age. 😉

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    • I’ve always thought that women who were exceptionally attractive (or unattractive, for that matter) sometimes get more attention than is easy for them to handle. Whether it’s positive or negative attention, it does color the way they look at things, and so becoming less “visible” is probably a welcome relief. Personally, I was more average looking, so I didn’t experience that as much. But I think that any time we are allowed to feel free to just be ourselves is a good thing! And I admit I had a hard time with “grandma” at first too…I thought of my own grandmother, who had grey hair and often wore a “house dresss, and thought “that’s not me.” But I got over it. I am a grandma, and I’m okay with that now too. Thanks for your comment, Pam…your writing, whether in your comments, your blog, or your book, is always so refreshing and honest!

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      • Thank you – for all of this. I’ve taught creative writing for many years, and my students and I “practice” writing from the heart, not the brain. It makes a difference. Yes, I know what you mean – you and I and other grandmothers like us are changing the “image” of what a grandmother looks like and acts like. Cheers to us! 🙂

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  9. Aww. How lovely, Ann. I also love being a grandmother, and it does ease the transition into a new state of being where our bodies just don’t hold together as they used to. I like to think of us as “wise” women instead of “old” women. 🙂 Enjoy the grandies.

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  10. I hear you, Ann. Your first paragraph had me chuckling. Looking in mirror sometimes becomes shocking for me! I don’t have grandchildren (yet), but you give me so much to look forward to. 🙂
    I’m very happy for you – those three angels are precious indeed!

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    • Thanks for that comment, Janis, because it reminds all of us that we can be comfortable with each stage of our lives, if we simply choose to see the benefits of it. Personally, I found validation in being a grandparent, but there are so many other ways to find that acceptance as well: doing what we love, celebrating our sense of self and the confidence and wisdom that comes with aging, and simply living our lives to the fullest each day. Wisdom does come with age, and that’s a fact. Thanks for chiming in!

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  11. Congratulations on you beautiful grands! I’m just a little envious of your status as “grandmother”… So far neither of my sons has married/procreated so its not looking good for me joining the ranks of grandmothers. Still aging gracefully if not noisily (everything makes noises when I move – I’m a one-woman-band) is my goal!

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    • I think we all just find our way of making sense of aging, and realizing that the trade offs are in many ways worthwhile. For me, it’s grandkids, but for others, it’s something else entirely. And yeah, I get the idea of wanting to move not quite so noisily, but I haven’t mastered that either!

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  12. You are a wise and beautiful soul! I think as we age, we should look at all the good things we have gained over the years…the blessings of friends and family, marvelous experiences, learning curves. Age teaches us to be mindful of how we spend our time and to appreciate all that life has to offer. I think God crowns the older population with many jewels…and certainly, grandchildren are in that category!

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    • You’re right, Linda! There are many benefits to aging, and becoming a grandparent is just one of the ones available to us. I think we all focus on whatever makes us feel best about us, and helps us to ignore society’s constant message of “younger is always better.” The wisdom and patience we gain with age is nothing to be sneezed at! I have a friend who starting experimenting with art AFTER she retired. And you know what? She’s great at it! She was even asked to paint a mural in a new park in her home town. She says she’s enjoying this phase of her life more than any that came before. Many jewels indeed…..

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  13. How the littlest one has grown! I remember some of the posts you wrote about times with each of the three. Some were sunny, some told of anxiety and worries. But what always came through strong and clear was how much you just loved your little heart~huggers. I bet that if you asked them what they love about Grandma, it won’t quite be about what you wear or how you look as much as it would be about all the little ways you love them and make them feel loved. When we grow more chins than we care to have and when everything that shouldn’t sag goes the floppy way, all that is true and pure in our loving will remain.
    In the end, that is all that will matter.

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    • Oh, thank you so much! I can’t even begin to say how much I love them, and I do hope that is what they’ll remember most when I’m gone. It’s a gift to spend time with them, both because I enjoy it so much, and also because I want them to realize that their grandmother loves them unconditionally and is always so very proud of them. If I can do that, who cares how I look? As always, you understood exactly what I meant, and validated it. I hope you realize what a gift you are to others!

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  14. As a matter of fact, there is so much of you bubbling with excitement and wonderment on novelties of life inside your grandchildren. This is how Nature has planned it all to be, and any forced change would lead to dystopia. Also, together the four of you turn out a vary young average age, and not everyone has that luxury!

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    • I like the way you think! And maybe that’s what people mean when they say their grandchildren keep them young. They sure do energize me, I’ll say that, and give me hope for the future. Thanks for you insightful and encouraging comment!

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    • You and me both, Kathy. Change never comes easily to me. But once I make peace with it, I realize that there are actually many gifts at each phase of our life. And for me, grandchildren really do help me accept my new reality…and enjoy it as well!

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  15. This is the fact of this worldly life. We are brought here then grown up then reach to the aged stage and then return back to where we belong to. So, aging must not be a worry but for the life of hereafter. we must do enough to dwell in paradise. Just like our ancestors we are a head to the same destination. Pray you have many reasn to be grateful 😊

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    • Thank for you for that reminder! You’re right, aging is not a bad thing, everyone does it. And the important thing is to remember that we have really do have many reasons to be grateful.

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