What seems like just a moment ago, I woke up to my younger daughter wishing me a happy birthday. She gleefully added, “Gee, Ma, you’re halfway to 100! That’s old!” For all of us math-whiz’s out there, that’s when I turned 50. And in a blink of an eye and two shakes of some tail feathers, holy moly! It’s my 60th birthday. How on earth did that happen?
True to form, I do love a good birthday. And while parties are no longer necessary, ice cream cake is definitely a must-have. And, presents? Well, not so much. Unless they are very shiny and twinkle from my ears.
But I did want to embrace this special birthday milestone. I felt the need to shop for something special. So, I ordered my own 60th birthday crown online! Because why not?
Women really need to embrace their age
I always find it odd that many women are secretive about their age. The other day I was talking to a woman about something from her past. She proactively commented, “Well, I never reveal my age.”
Really? Do you think I can’t guess your age by looking at you? Those wrinkles you’re sporting are a dead-giveaway. And hearing how you recollect things? Not everyone knows about princess phones unless you were there. You know, in the 1960s and1970s!
Others shave off a year or two. Do they honestly think that makes a difference? After 50 or 60 or 70 years, who cares about a year or two? Apparently, a lot of women. And a whole lot of men!
I looked around for some information about why many women feel the need to lie about their age. There’s some truth to these situations. But it’s also true that women don’t need to put up with these shenanigans any longer.
American society embraces youth…
As we’ve all heard, our culture is obsessed with youth. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. Or if we’ve just heard it often enough that we’ve stopped questioning it.
There are a lot of articles that examine why women hide their age. Most seem to land on the obvious: men like younger women. Wow. That hardly an original thought. If you ask a whole lot of the men out there, I think we’d find general consensus that most men just like women.
So, women have bent to what they think society wants to hear. And, it may have worked for some women.
But, I’d like to suggest that it’s time to change our tune, ladies. Embrace your years on this planet. Be ever so grateful for the time you have here. Celebrate how much smarter you are now than you were in your 20s. And put on your 60th birthday crown. Wear it with some style!
…but not everyone is quite so enamored
One of the funnier things about wanting to be young is that young people don’t want to be young. They find they are not necessarily well-respected in the workplace. Many feel ready for promotions or bigger roles in their company but are stuck waiting. And others are concerned about how little they know about their jobs. They want to know when their time will come.
The other funny thing is that the older workers don’t really like the young folks either. We love and adore our 20-something and 30-something and 40-something children. But we sure as heck don’t want to work for them!
It’s not at all unusual for older workers to take early retirement because they just don’t care to be bossed around by someone who could be their child. Or grandchild. Back in 2014, 38% of workers had a younger boss. By now, it’s estimated to hover around 50%. And, in 2016, CareerBuilder found that 69% of workers 55 and older report to younger bosses.
These “May – December” relationship often don’t pan out so well, as noted in a NYT article. For either party. Or the business.
Amazing things can happen after your 60th birthday
Despite all the differences in the generations at home and at work, there is a lot more to do after your 60th birthday. And, we have more role models today than ever before.
In an interesting turn of events, we saw young people by the tens of millions fully supporting Bernie Sanders in his two bids for US President. They could have rallied around one of the much younger candidates. But Bernie has wisdom and experience. Plus, he understands the dual issues of college debt and lack of affordable health insurance. Younger folks immediately connected with him. He’s 79.
And, some personal favorite women on my end are Nancy Pelosi (81) who became the first woman Speaker of the House when she was 67. Massachusetts’ first woman senator, Elizabeth Warren (72), was elected in 2012 at age 63. And of course, Hilary Rodham Clinton (73) who became Secretary of State at 62 and ran her second Presidential campaign at age 69.
I conclude that when women age, they package up wisdom and guts. It’s time to try new things and who cares what others think?
Other influential women
Turns out, women have been doing remarkable things years after their 60th birthday for quite a long time. Thanks to Wikipedia, we now know every famous woman’s age. Even if they weren’t so keen on letting the world know.
There’s Frances Perkins, the first women to hold a Cabinet position. She was the Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945. She ushered through the Social Security Act at age 55, then stayed on for another 10 years.
Helen Hooven Santmyer is the author of one of my all-time favorite books, And Ladies of the Club. This book has stuck with me since I read it in 1984. Turns out, this best seller was published in 1982 when she was 87 years old.
I find it especially important for older women to be front and center and honest about their age when they are in the media. Their reach and power are incredibly influential. They will, in turn, help more women embrace their real age. A few you’ll recognize:
- Leslie Stahl, 79
- Maria Shriver, 65
- Jane Pauley, 70
And, let’s not forget the Food Network stars like Ina Garten (73) who just won a Daytime Emmy and Nancy Fuller (72) of Farmhouse Rules.
The famous and not so famous lead the way
There are so many other remarkable women who are not quite so famous. They quietly celebrated their 60th birthday, then cleaned up the kitchen and continued to do their thing. Families count on these women to hold together their traditions. Communities rely on them to move the town forward. Grandkids jump with joy when Grandma lets them have an extra donut or ice cream for dinner.
Let me not leave out the dashingly handsome men with their silver hair who turned 60. They too have a lot of life left to pursue. And, golf. And grandfatherhood. Older men offer wisdom and good advice on everything from how to build a business to how to rewire a lamp.
We have many dashing older men to watch as they age gracefully. Tom Selleck (76) is a great role model. He deftly switched roles from Magnum P.I. in the 1980s to Frank Reagan on Blue Bloods (beginning in 2010) in the span of “a few” years. Plus, there’s George Clooney and Eddie Murphy also turning 60 this year.
On looking forward
All this leads me to one big ah-ha: the best really is yet to come. Between decades of experience behind me and nothing but open water in front, what’s not to love about getting older? Most of my real responsibilities have graduated college and are successfully working on their own. Dan really can make dinner if he has to. Or he is always willing to get take-out. And, I get to do what I love in my career and small business. I can continue to work for another 2 or 7 or 10 years. Or longer. It’s up to me.
Ah, yes, the best part of a 60th birthday is that you really are in the driver’s seat. I’m hittin’ the gas and going 80 up the highway. There’s much to do and many miles yet to go.
But first, a big slice of my favorite Carvel ice cream cake! Care to join me?