Find Your Youth—It’s Not Too Late

By on February 7, 2019
Youth

What is youth? Most often we refer to it simply as the period between childhood and adulthood when we transition from dependence to independence. Others define it as a feeling, appearance, energy, vitality, or another characteristic that is associated with being young, like being hopeful and optimistic.

            Is it any wonder then that so many of us are in constant search of that fountain of youth, that mystical, magical resource that restores, rejuvenates, and wards off the damaging effects of time? It’s easy to see why we are so drawn to any behaviors that reportedly maintain our youth, like exercising regularly, eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and even limiting sun exposure. And we perk up when we hear about anything that promotes anti-aging, from pills and supplements to cosmetic products and procedures. It takes focus and discipline to keep up with all the new advice on how to add years to your life. And with the steady stream of advancements and techniques, many struggle to sort out the hype from the help.

            My antidote to aging? My grandchildren. Oh, they can’t do much about the reflection I see of myself in the mirror, and they certainly can’t turn back the biological clock, but they keep me youthful nonetheless.

            With them I laugh more, stay more active, try new things, and relish in my more youthful mindset. With a few exceptions, I never lived in the present before my grandchildren came along. I was always revisiting, reliving, reviewing, and reminiscing about the past or planning, setting goals, visualizing, and working for some point in the future. What a joy to live in the moment! I can patiently watch my grandchildren for hours—they captivate me with their appearance, mannerisms, expressions, and movement. I see glimpses of recognizable DNA from their parents and my father, mother, and grandparents, but in a new and unique person. I see bits of me as I was in my youth and I can relive those times in the present. I learn about myself from observing the ways we are both alike and different.

            I also marvel at their innocence. They are so trusting. There is authenticity in everything they do. They remind me of how it feels to be unguarded and enthusiastic about the simplest things in life. I now try to see the world through their eyes and take a fresh look at what I may have been missing. They truly awaken my inner child. I experience many things again as if for the first time when I am with them. Who thought Disneyland could be so much fun again?

            I pay more attention to everything I do now, like eating a snow cone on a hot summer day, feeling the beat of a song, and jumping up to dance whenever I feel like it. As if relishing the comfort of a cool breeze, I am more mindful of each moment and less on autopilot in my grandchildren’s company. In requiring my attention, which I am so happy to give, they remind me to pay attention to other happy things too.

            I have also gained purpose and relevance while being in the good company of my grandchildren. I’ve recently heard that by engaging with the youth, we actually stay younger longer. Our hearts grow stronger from building loving relationships and the social bonds keep us healthier. I know for sure it gives us something else to think about other than our own aches, pains, and diminished capacity.

            So though I haven’t found that illusive fountain of youth, I’m grateful that with my grandchildren I feel younger than my chronological age. I won’t be able to turn back the biological clock, but I’ll happily settle for staying young at heart.

Marianne Waggoner Day, who went from stay-at-home mother to president of the world’s largest commercial retail real estate practice, shares her perspective on being a twenty-first century grandmother and shows grandparents new ways to enrich their relationships with their grandchildren in her new book, Camp Grandma: Next-Generation Grandparenting—Beyond Babysitting (She Writes Press, May 2019).

 

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Find Your Youth—It’s Not Too Late