I’m proud to be a baby boomer, and as such, feel that my generation has lived their youth in exciting times. We were young when the Beatles and Elvis burst onto the scene. We lived our childhoods with stay-at-home moms, fathers who loved their families above all else, the freedom as children to walk to a friend’s house, or to school, without the fear of being abducted, and neighbors who actually knew and cared about each other. Our families would pack a lunch, and go on picnics after church on Sunday. We spent quality family time with each other, and enjoyed a close-knit family/friend life. Our lives weren’t complicated, we weren’t afraid to play and dance with complete abandon! We were teens when Motown emerged, and we all rocked with the best of them! Yes, we were young during the ’60s, a time of growth and change. It was truly, the best of times.
We raised our children under the new rules, spent time with them, and taught them to be open-minded and creative, and to respect all people, in all walks of life. We were involved in their lives, and encouraged them to grow and think for themselves. As women, we were told we deserved more, and every facet of the media screamed that we could “have it all, do it all,” and we believed we could. We loved our families, made good homes, pursued careers, broke through the “glass ceiling,” and paved the way for our daughters to be able to have a career in any field they chose. We did everything we could to have the best of both worlds, and make our lives the “best” ever. Yes, things were changing, and times were exciting, that’s for sure!
But, all changes aren’t necessarily good. Now, as I look at my precious grandchildren, and marvel at what great parents they have, I really feel the impact the world has on them. My children didn’t have to worry about drive-by shootings, home invasions, abductions or carjackings, they had the opportunity, as did I, to just be children and relish their childhood days. Children today have lost their innocence, they are aware of the evil in the world, and their parents must be diligent, day and night, to do everything they can to keep that evil at bay. Their childhoods have been compromised, and they don’t have the opportunity to be as carefree as my children were, or as my generation was, and that’s such a sad thing.
A number of years ago, I heard a song written by a fellow boomer, reflecting on her parents, and although I don’t remember all the words, the chorus stuck with me. The song told the story of a couple, growing and aging over the years, and as they remembered their lives together, the phrase “when we were beautiful” was used to refer to themselves when they were younger. At the time, this was a little heart tugging to me, but I didn’t really connect to it … I hadn’t yet arrived at that stage of my life.
A few days ago, however, I was looking through old photo albums and a box of old pictures, and the full meaning of that song really hit home for me. There were pictures of my children as babies, young children, and teens. Pictures of my husband and me when we were first married, looking much like children ourselves. As we have shared life’s roller-coaster times together, you just don’t notice the toll it’s taking on your body, at least not while it’s happening, you only see it when you take the time to look through your memories of the past, and then compare it to today.
A few pounds here, a few wrinkles there, various physical ailments that you didn’t have yesterday, and suddenly, as if in an “aha” moment, you realize that you’re not so young, and not as beautiful anymore ... at least not like you were then.
After taking a good, hard look at aging and life, I think the song should have said “when we were young and beautiful,” rather than just “when we were beautiful.” My reasoning for this is that, while it’s wonderful to the young and beautiful (and we all know when we were at our very best—I think mine was around forty to forty-five), aging doesn’t really make us less beautiful. There is true beauty in the faces and hands of people who are no longer under the age of fifty! This beauty is reflected in the lines and wrinkles on our faces, showing the effect of living life during both happy and sad times. Laugh lines, graying hair, worry lines, we all get them, if we live long enough. It’s part of life, and no amount of Botox or cosmetic surgery will take that away from your body and face, and make you look twenty-five again! Be proud that you’ve made it this far, that you’ve seen your children grow into adulthood, that you’ve seen your grandchildren born, that you have actually lived your life!
My point here is this: all stages of life are beautiful. Living and learning to be kind, compassionate, caring, loving, helpful, and giving to your family, friends, and your fellow man, that’s what life is all about.
So, regardless of your current age or stage of life, and as we work, worry, celebrate joyful moments, mourn our losses, and weather all kinds of storms that take their toll, we will always, no matter what our age, still be beautiful.