The idea of aging has been on my mind lately. I'm not really sure why. Perhaps the impending half-century celebration of my birth is it. Yes, pretty sure that's it. I will be so in December. When I was 12, I was pretty darn sure I didn't want to be so. I felt so was the "ancient" age. I didn't have to ask for help with anything at 35 so why would I want to ask for help at nearly so? That's admitting that I am older and in need of help. Goodness knows, as does anyone who knows me, that the word HELP really doesn't exist in my vocabulary, unless I am helping someone else. We are blessed that we live in Ouray County for more reasons than the beautiful scenery and decadent weather. We are blessed to live in a community filled with older folks who are full of life and fully invested in the belief that age is just a number. Perhaps that is where my thoughts should go. Age is just a number and 50 is a good number, for now. So, if my thoughts are firmly detoured to the belief that 50 is just a number, when will my mind convince my body to "get on board"?
I have found myself, over the years, scolding the kids with phrases like, "stop whining and act your age." A lot of my parenting revolves around encouraging my kids to grow up and "act their age." I think I may have done that wrong. Looking back, I should have encouraged my Rodeo Queen daughter to slow down on the maturity stuff and maybe it wouldn't be so difficult to get her to come and visit. If I hadn't pushed her with phrases like, "there is always someone better than you out there," maybe she wouldn't ride circles around me when we are playing with the horses. Thinking now, I am going to try to lay off the "stop chasing those butterflies, Wyatt, and do something productive with your day" comments and join in on the chase. I need to start acting a younger age and have a little fun with the kids.
Dealing with the Cowboy might be easier if I forget about our age difference from time to time, too. There are 8 years between the Cowboy and me. He is older, of course. He doesn't behave older but he is older. He is often scolded with the same phrase as the kids, "act your age and quit loafing around all the time." He is always so relaxed and calm around the ranch. He is rarely in a hurry and is constantly reminding me that if I slow down, I'll have a "more harmonious outcome." He sometimes bothers me with his devil-may-care attitude when it comes to getting projects done. He likes to put EVERYTHING off for another weekend. He likes to delay chores, saying, "I'll get that done later." I find myself being Debbie Downer by reminding him that we don't have as many tomorrows as we used to. I think I need to change that thought process and join in on plopping down in the chair and letting the clock tick by. I need to take a page out of the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' book and slow down. There is al ways a tomorrow and it can get done then. Don't tell the Cowboy, but maybe he's right and I'm wrong on this one. I need to start acting the Cowboy's age and take a bit of relax time.
So, as I write this, a recurring thought is now going through my mind. Perhaps I have lived my first 50 years on a hamster wheel of getting things done just as fast as I can in an effort to prove my worth to the world. I think I may have completed that task and now I need to slow down and enjoy the "fruit" of my endeavors. I need to spend more time riding horses with my Rodeo Queen daughter, even though my lower back is a wreck for a week after. I need to take a little bit of time to wander through the yard with One Chop Wyatt for no reason at all, even though my allergies will kill me for 48 hours after. I am going to try to slow down and find some humor in the Cowboy's way of thinking, even though admitting his way is better will cause me some severe stomach discomfort. I don't know, folks. All of this change sounds very painful - sore back, allergy attacks, sour stomach. I don't know if this is going to work. All in all, maybe I should just take the sound advice of my granddaughter (age 6): "Act your age, Nana, so you don't feel your age."
Erin Stadelman is a rancher's wife and a devoted caretaker of children, grandchildren, horses and cows alike. She was awarded first place by the Colorado Press Association for most humorous columnist in 2019.