"First you're young. Then you're middle aged. Then you're wonderful."
Such are the wise words of Alice Roosevelt
I love it and especially now, in my mid-50's, when I think that life is speeding by far too fast and time just races away from me, I can't help but smile at how your perception of age changes.
Turning 30 was probably the hardest as it was suddenly the end of being young, pretty and irresponsible (although I did have 3 sons aged 7, 5 and 4 at the time and had to be somewhat responsible (they would probably tell you differently)).
The 30's were busy and tough. I was often so happy and then sometimes very unhappy but I became a great master at hiding the unhappiness. I loved my boys and motherhood most of all. I loved the sport, the school, being involved and making new friends. I had a husband who made a lot of money and lost a lot of money. We were either eating fillet, doing game drives and flying in hot air balloons over Mala Mala or having our electricity cut as the bills were unpaid and having to cook mince on a gas burner by candlelight. Mostly my 30's was a jumble of highs and lows. I remember turning 35 and thinking - "Hell my life is half way done". Middle aged.
The 40's I could also say were busy and tough but with turning 40 came a new stage in my life and that, although hard at times, brought with it a sense of calmness and finding out who I really was, without the pretence of trying so hard to fit and and to be the "happily married southern suburbs housewife". It was a time to realise that having the wedding ring, the house and the husband were not making me happy and that to escape to a rickety cottage on the railway line with my fast growing chickens was probably the bravest and best thing I could have done at the time. The 40's were fast. A home filled with growing boys and their many friends, a home where peanut butter sandwiches and not ham and cheese sandwiches were now the norm, muddy rugby togs and fund raising for tours, two tubs of yogurt had to last the week and "100 ways with Mince" became my bible. It was a home that is still so close to my heart as it nurtured me through my 40's and told me "everything will be alright".
So I have been young, I have been middle aged and now I am looking forward to the "wonderful" to come. Seeing as Alice lived to 96 it could still be quite a while to wait.
But waiting is fun...
The 50's have been the best so far. I love and am loved by the kindest, funniest and most caring man in the world; my boys continue, as they have always done, to make me proud of the men they have become; I am blessed to still have my mother on hand to talk to most days and see often; I have an amazing sister and beautiful nieces, and a brother and a step-daughter.
However, the 50's bring with it one of the most important realisations - your family are your family and will always be; your parents are not unfortunately with you forever and your children start their own lives in their own homes, sometimes far away. It is actually your friends who you start to appreciate most in your 50's. They have always been there but have perhaps been taken for granted along the way. Now because your family do not take up so much of your time, there is more time for your friends, for making new ones and taking up new hobbies. I have time to walk, time to draw and time to share a lunch, movie or dinner with my friends. There is more honest sharing and less pretending. Unfortunately there are deaths and sadnesses and sicknesses but these too help us grow and learn how to be a friend, how to listen, how to support and how to appreciate all we have.
All pretty wonderful.
Who said growing up was not easy?
Pictures by: Jenny Kotze at Kirstenbosch