So I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I had to pause and think when asked how many candles to put on my birthday cake. Was it 43 or 44? My Mom would tell you it’s 45 because she goes by some weird Chinese calculation. It’s strange how hitting the 40 was like reaching a huge milestone and then you stop counting after that.
I had spent a rather eventful birthday this year, riding along the Green Corridor with my husband, almost ran over a snake, broke a bike chain and got caught in the rain.
My husband and I used to have conversation about growing old.
We are well aware that our face will be wrinkled and our butt will soon grow saggy. We will probably suffer from bone mass lost and start to shrivel and the amount of hair we grow probably can’t keep up with the amount of hair we lose.
We can’t stop the natural process of aging but we both agree that we can at best try to age gracefully. Not by botox or anything that requires one to go under the knife (that would have been too painful!) but by leading an active lifestyle. Having 2 energetic boys kind of makes it easier for us to stick to that because heading outdoors, trying new things and sweating it out is so far the best way for the family to bond.
Looking back, there are quite a number of sports that I only picked up after I became a mother. The motivation was perhaps to impress my boys and to a certain extent to show them that ‘if Mom can do it, so can you!’
When we first bought a swaveboard, I was the mother seen fumbling with the new toy with the boys in the evening. I have to admit that it was quite embarrassing as I worried about being labelled as the ‘mother who refuses to admit she’s old’ (a direct translation from Chinese)
A couple of months ago, we tried rock climbing and I had to show them that Mom can climb even though she gets wobbly knees when the distance grows between her feet and the ground. Apart from discovering that fingers and toes are good for grabbing/hanging on for dear lives, I learned that the harness is a pretty wonderful invention which acts like a comfortable seat for coming down a 3 storey high wall. All it takes is a little faith that all will be well and the courage to take the plunge. It took me some time to master that though.
During the school holidays, the kids followed their dad to try out mountain biking. They tried out some new trails but it remained one of those activities that they do with their Dad because Mom’s bike (and heart) wasn’t quite built for jumping over rocks, zipping down steep slopes and negotiating sharp turns.
Unlike 3 years ago when I first went for a bike race, I can now confidently mount the bike saddle even if my feet couldn’t quite reach the ground and I can brake and dismount without collapsing into a pile. It was something that comes with practice and I didn’t master that until not too long ago.
Last week, the kids were joking about how I will totally freak out if I were to try out mountain biking (and they actually enjoy seeing me freak out!).
Driven by curiosity and to see what my 6 years old could do that I couldn’t, I decided to join them. They taught me a few tricks like lowering the saddle, lifting my butt off the saddle and sliding as far back as I can so that I won’t go flying over the handlebars while going down the slopes.
Then came the real thing. They thought it was safer for their Dad to lead me while my elder boy led his little brother.
It was a short trail in the forest. There were sharp turns and steep slopes. The terrain was dotted with tree roots and sometimes rocks that were too big for me to traverse. Occasionally I had to come to a complete halt to push my bike. What a mountain biker would usually complete in 15 minutes took me more than half an hour to finish. I had to focus intently on the trails to see where I was heading and anticipate the next turn. My hands were soaked in sweat, my heart was racing, it was thrilling. Many times, the boys had to stop to check on me. The half hour ride in the forest felt like an hour on my usual route. It was strenuous yet exhilarating.
It was one of the most fun thing we did this school holiday and for some reasons, the boys were especially happy. I wish they were happy for me, that their Mom had tried something new. But knowing them, it was more likely that they were happy because they had fun seeing how clumsy I looked on the slopes! It’s not everyday that they get to beat Mom at doing something though I have to admit that it’s becoming more and more common these days.
So this birthday, it hasn’t been clearer what I should wish for. I wish that I will never feel too old to try out new things, go on adventures, climb mountains and go places with my boys.
Age is just a number and it should stay that way.