This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own. #DisruptAging
My husband and I were teen parents and brought home our first baby when we were just 19 years old. Through the years I have always felt older and wiser than people my age because I was forced to grow up rather quickly. None the less… I was the youngest mom at play-dates… the youngest parent sitting in the pediatrician office… and always the youngest parent at school conferences. I feel like I spent so many years wanting to be older because the stigma of my young age was often a burden.I wasn’t afraid of getting older… I welcomed it!
It wasn’t until many years later… and not until last year that my fear of aging hit me unexpectedly. It was the beginning of a new school year and we were about to meet my son’s teacher. I still remember the moment like it was yesterday… the moment I realized this was the first time I was actually older than the teach… any by several years! So many emotions and questions flooded my mind! When did this happen? How did this happen? When did my age suddenly catch up to me? Am I old? How do I make this stop?
I regret that I spent far too much time being sad about this topic of aging… that I look at it as a bad thing. I worked hard mentally to get myself out of that bad place. I stopped focusing on my age and decided to just live! Age is never something I am ever going to be in control of, so why dwell on it? There is so much negativity when it comes to aging and we are made to feel like it is a bad thing. But I have come to realize that this is far from the truth and I am thankful for each year that this world continues to bless me with.
My husband and I have been together since high school (14 years to be exact) and have literally grown into adults together. Age is something that has always been a topic of focus throughout our lives and I am always looking for ways to take the negativity out of it. AARP’s DisruptAging is helping people to rethink the negative stories we tell ourselves about aging. I would like to share some of out thought about parenting through the lense of aging and encourage you to ask yourself these questions:
How has your relationship with each other and with your children evolved over time?
We have learned how to be a better team over the years and know how to support and lift each other up. It always amazes me that my children can bicker all day long but when one of them is truly hurting… they can set that aside and be there for each other.
Knowing what you know now about parenting, what might you want to tell your younger selves? And what might you tell your future self?
First I would tell younger me to stop worrying about your age! We were always amazing parents and I wish I had spent less time caring what other people thought. I wish younger me would know to be more confident and sure of herself because girl… you let way too many people walk all over you. I would let younger me know that your child is born with their own unique personality and to spend less time fighting those annoying quirks and just embrace the person they are meant to be.
How can your children benefit from your life experience? What have you learned as you grow that you want to instill in your children?
I think the most important thing that I have learned as I’ve grown is that hard work always pays off. My husband and I were forced at such a young age to be hard working if we wanted to make it. That hard work has paid off and we are living proof that teen parents can make it! My husband and I often talk about how our oldest child will be so much stronger than our other children because she was there with us through the hard times. While we live a well off life now and my other two children will never have to experience those hard times… there are still ways to help them grow into responsible adults. My children are have many responsibilities when it comes to yard work and chores and I know that this is going to help them to be prepared when they leave home.
What has surprised you about your relationship with your partner over time?
What has surprised me most about my relationship with my husband over the years is how much more I love him. We have grown and come so far in our relationship and I feel like my love grows for him with each passing year. There is just something so special about having a partner to experience life with and grow up together!
How do you want your children to think about aging as they grow into adults?
I don’t want them to ever feel like they can’t do something and to never allow age to restrict them in any way! You are never too young and you are never too old. Live your dreams… reach your goals and don’t let anything stand in your way, not even your age.