Celebrate Life

I have used my sister’s photos because they are lovely and because I don’t have enough photos of Mum! I need to fix that. So thanks Cath 🙂

On Saturday my mother turned 75, and I think that deserves a celebratory blog post.

There are so many things that I could say about Mum.

She is a concert pianist and we could go into how much work that requires, and how she sacrificed for it, and how she managed to look after us children while still doing the practice and playing the concerts. How by doing so she set an example to us that we could work hard and achieve our dreams.

She has a heart for others and is always reaching out, not just to people who can give back to her or make her feel good, but she also sacrificially gives her time to reach out to the unloveable. Sometimes it drives us crazy as a family but at the same time, what an example!

She is full of wisdom and I love to meet with her for coffee once a week and just pour out whatever I’m going through and get her listening ear and her excellent advice.

All these things are good. But the thing I want to concentrate on today is the joy with which Mum approaches her birthdays.

Mum is almost exactly 30 years older than me so I must have been ten years old when Mum turned 40. But I can remember distinctly the way she almost danced around the house. ‘Life begins!’ she crowed, ‘Life begins!’ She refused to let that milestone get her down. There was no grumbling about being over the hill or about life being over now. She chose to embrace her age. To celebrate it.

And it’s been the same with every milestone birthday. This year’s 75 is no different. ‘I think it’s worth celebrating being on earth for this length of time,’ she said to me. And I agree, it is totally worth celebrating.

We live in a culture that idolises youth. We want to look young, we dye our hair to remove greys, we undergo plastic surgery to get rid of wrinkles. We get concerned about thickening waistlines, about slowing bodies, about failing memories.

I remember being down on my 27th birthday. I realised as the day approached that I was definitely closer to 30 than to 21 and I didn’t like the feeling. That was a while ago now and I look back at my 27 year old self and laugh at her worries.

What is that magic youthful age? Are we all trying to look and act like we’re in our twenties? Is it acceptable to be 35? Is 40 the birthday when we realise that we’re old, on the way out?

Isn’t it ridiculous? We are all living longer and longer. If we write ourselves off once we pass 30 then we will spend 70 years of our life, and maybe longer, thinking we are less-than. Putting ourselves down for something we have no control over.

Let’s change it up. Let’s do what Mum does and celebrate every birthday, every milestone. As we go on in this world we have the chance to experience more, to learn more, to enjoy more. We have the chance to let go of the things that hold us back, the bitterness, the unforgiveness, the anger. We can grow in wisdom. We can give more to others. We can enjoy who we are, and love who we are becoming.

So I’m really celebrating Mum’s birthday. I’m so glad she’s my mother and so grateful for the joy and wisdom that she pours into my life. And I’m so glad that she’s celebrating too.

I hope that when I’m turning 75 that I follow her example and approach my birthday with the same joy and confidence.

 

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