I’m at the library fingering through rows of novels to relax with over the weekend. The only problem is I left my reading glasses at home. I squint; I back my head away from the book spines to focus. Now I’m getting dizzy. Finally, I pluck a book off the shelf and carry it to the checkout desk. Welcome to 40 years old.
I was bewildered for several years in my early forties when I read the words in Quran, on medicine bottles and in reading books and could barely decipher them. Why are the words so tiny I wondered? The reality was my eyesight was on the decline. Vision loss is just another reminder that my body is wearing down and soon I’ll be returning to my Lord.
Although I know I will not be here forever, I do hope for a healthy quality of life. One of the greatest challenges I have as I age is maintaining my health. Because people in their 40’s increasingly are being diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension, I find myself making stronger efforts to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. I discovered another important reason to be extra conscious of my health during my forties:
Two years ago I received a wonderful, unexpected surprise. I became pregnant with my eleventh child. I was absolutely convinced that my youngest girl was my last, for none of the friends and relatives I grew up with nor my present acquaintances had delivered babies in their mid-forties (or at least that I recall.)
One of my primary apprehensions during this last pregnancy was dealing with the health complications that accompany old age. I was constantly concerned about developing gestational diabetes and hypertension, which can seriously affect the health of the baby. So I had to be particularly vigilant about eating well and maintaining my doctor appointments. To complicate the situation even further, I found that I fell into the category of mothers more likely to deliver a Down Syndrome baby, as this condition is more common with older mothers than younger ones. This presented frequent anxiety for me as well.
Being a middle-aged mother isn’t all gloom and doom, though. There are abundant positives in raising my younger children while I’m older. Because I’ve had plenty of experience with my older kids, I now feel more secure in my childrearing skills. I know now what works and what doesn’t. I know what’s worth spending my time on and what’s a waste of time.
But eventually the child birthing years do end. This is why I think the forties are an opportune time in my life to pursue some of my long held ambitions. For many years I’ve had a desire to start my own business. Earlier this year I started a home based copywriting business called Payless Writing Service. I compose resumes, produce press releases and newsletters, and write copy for brochures, web sites and other business related material.
I’ve found developing and pursuing my business to be an enormous stress reducer. On occasion when I get frustrated or troubled, I go to my computer and get to work on establishing my business.
Sometimes after dropping off my seventh child at college and driving back home, I turn off the motor and slowly swing my legs out of my car. I’m anticipating the stiffness I will feel in my upper thighs and hips as I shuffle along the sidewalk and up my walkway after the forty-minute drive. I know my body is indeed wearing down…which is a thankful reminder that this is not my place of rest…the hereafter is.
Grandma Jeddah is the author of “ Discipline without Disrespecting: Discover the Hidden Secrets of How to Effectively Discipline your Muslim Child—And Keep your Peace of Mind While at It.” She also blogs at grandmajeddah.blogspot.com