Thursday, January 21, 2016

More on Ageing Ungracefully

It was my birthday not so recently and, instead of me cooking dinner, Mr. Hubby ordered takeaway. It was a lovely gesture because this time I wasn’t asked whether or not I wanted to celebrate my birthday. We even had the meal by candle light. Now don’t get excited! Mr. Hubby hasn’t turned romantic. There was a blackout and the whole neighbourhood was in darkness for some three hours. In spite of that, and the resulting heat, we enjoyed the food.

A birthday cake appeared after dinner. When Sonny had lit the candles—one for each decade of my life—and the birthday song had been sung, the Princess urged me to “Blow, Nana, blow!” I thought it was cute that she displayed so much enthusiasm when she joined me to blow out the candles.

However, it’s not the birthday ‘do’ I want to write about—although I’m happy that the day was not forgotten.

 Partly because another birthday had come around I’m asking again: Why am I here? Surely there’s more to life than just surviving? I know I should be grateful for every blessing—health, enough food, comfortable home, and the joy of raising a grand-daughter. However, I can’t help feeling that life should be a fulfilling journey if not an exciting adventure. So why do I feel as if something is missing? As if there’s a big hole in my life and I need to find that missing piece to fill up the hole?

Perhaps it’s because I feel that all my life I’ve been taking care of other people. As the eldest girl in the family, I had to take care of my younger siblings when I was a mere kid myself. Then I took care of other people’s kids when I became a teacher. Marriage meant looking after my own kids and walking the mandatory three steps behind Mr. Hubby whose needs have to be taken care of too. Then there are assorted friends and family members…

I’m torn between my upbringing—be kind, charitable, humble, generous, and all those good, old-fashioned values—and ‘modern’ values: be assertive, learn to say no, don’t let people make use of you etc.

I realized that as I busy myself taking care of other people my own needs are buried under a pile of ‘more important’ responsibilities. I have actually forgotten I had many interests and hobbies until I came across my old books hidden under a pile of clutter.

These books remind me that life is not just cleaning and cooking and caring for others. Life should be a joy to live, not drudgery to be tolerated. You should feel happiness before you could share it. You can’t be happy if you felt exploited or discontented and miserable.

So this is one grumpy, old woman counting her blessings and also promising to make time to rediscover some of the stuff that had excited her younger self. And before anyone asks her to do them a favour—make this, sew that etc—the answer is ‘No!’

Now let’s go bake some cookies for baby and me!

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