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.
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