Beautiful Maddie ... so innocent, so imaginative, so youthful, so creative, so cheerfully playful. She's a little girl in a woman's body. Her clothes and her shoes are found in the women's section of the department store, but she still plays with toys and enjoys the thrills of childhood. While she looks very much like a young adult, she isn't an adult at all.
Looks can be deceiving. The young try to look older. The old try to look younger. It's an age old battle.
Sometime ago my Maddie-girl confessed a hushed secret to me, whispered in the dark as we snuggled on the sofa, "GiGi, I don't want to grow up ... ever. Being grown up is hard and I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet. I'm not sure I will ever be ready."
Growing up can be hard. I remember 13 and I'm glad to be passed those difficult years of puberty. It's an age old battle, fought by the millions, transitioning from the carefree days of childhood into the realm of adulthood responsibilities.
And yet, I have a confession to make as well ... You see, I'm fighting this age old battle, too. And I'm not sure I'm ready ... ready for 40 in just 9 more months. Furthermore, I'm not even sure that I want to be ready ... ready for middle age years and teenagers and the responsibility or changes that will come with this new season in life.
It's only January 14th and yet already 2012 has felt emotionally turbulent as this storm of resistance against aging wells up within me.
Perhaps it is simply in the knowing that this is the year I turn 40 that makes it an emotional battle. Or maybe it is in the watching my children turning from young children into preteens, putting aside the babyish toys and developing a need for deodorant, that suddenly makes me feel older. Is it finding that I am often one of the "older" moms in my homeschool groups? Somehow there is a soul shock in realizing that I am no longer the sleep-deprived mom seeking someone to give me hope, but rather I am the giver of encouragement to the mom of preschoolers and toddlers.
Whether it was just one of these things or a combination of them all, the emotions inside me are like a torrent. I want time to stand still, to stay right here and not journey on any farther. Why can't I just be a 30-something mom forever? I'm not exactly sure I will like the adventure of being 40'ish and raising teens.
Oh, I know ... It's futile to fight growing older for life doesn't work that way. Aging continues with each second that passes, with each breath of air we take into our bodies, with each morning we welcome and each night we kiss goodbye.
Why did I never notice before that the growing pains don't stop just because our bodies stop growing physically? Instead, it seems to me, that the older we get the more the growing pains hurt in the soul, in the heart, in the places you can't gently rub in the night to make the aching go away. Growing in spirit is much harder than growing in body.
And why it is that growing pains must always be so painfully hard? I suppose the simple answer is that if they weren't painful they wouldn't be called growing pains. The more complete answer might be that growing pains indicate a new phase in life, entering a new season, the coming into a new place. Change, while often a very good thing, is usually not easy, at least it has rarely been easy in my life.
Right now I'm in the trenches, battling the very idea of 40 and of growing into someone I do not yet know, a woman who is more experienced and therefore able to be an encourager and mentor to those who walk behind me in the journey of life.
But I am not alone, for this is a battle of the ages.
It's an age old battle, fought by a myriad of people and in a variety of ways. There are those who want to "grow old gracefully" and those who refuse to "grow old without a fight." I wonder how I will be, if age will suit me or if I will always feel as out of sorts as I do right now.
It's an age old battle. And whether I like it or not ...whether I'm ready or not ...whether I want it or not ...whether it's painful or not ... This is where I am in life. I'm growing up and that's a good thing.
I just didn't expect to still feel growing pains at 39.