Did you earn anything today?

Loving Grandparents

Old age takes away from us what we have inherited and gives us what we have earned – Gerald Brenan

I do not remember ever seeing this quote yet it came from last year’s desk calendar. It speaks to me today because I was pondering yesterday on whether I would jump at the chance of living a human life again.

No life is untouched by want, need, joy, tragedy, love, work and sacrifice, among other things. If I look back on the days when I had 3 kids under the age of 4 at once and the sleepless nights and helplessness I felt as a parent in the face of their tears at times, I might wonder if I wouldn’t mind missing those years out, no matter how adorable it all looks now in the photos. If I look back on these days, where I am a single parent, working full time, trying to pay the bills, manage the house, garden and pool with elbow grease, 3 teenagers and a low budget, I might wonder if I could miss these years out instead. If I look back on when I was waiting to see if I could emigrate to Australia and couldn’t get my life started, I might want to skip that year instead.

But the list goes on and on, and each phase of life has its moments – merry, marvellous and tough. Of course I wouldn’t miss out a moment. There are trying and horrible events, and deaths and testing people and depression but these particular tribulations are behind me now, and I came out the other side, brave enough to see what transpires next.

Anyway I digress. Gerald is saying, I believe, that we are born with physical attributes and personality traits and hopefully at least one parent to love and take care of us as we grow into adults. As we leave the nest and find our own way in the world we ‘earn’ a second family, jobs, friends, money, status, lifestyle, health and happiness.

Old age, while stealing our looks and youthful health, replaces it with a sense of accomplishment and wisdom if we have chosen to grab it, an understanding of how things will likely play out, a sense of our own strengths in the face of adversity and hopefully less reactivity to everything around us. We may have lost our ancestors and parents by then but we will have replaced it with the next generations, or great friends and community bound to us by all we have done for each other.

Baby hands

With any luck we have replaced uncertainty with happiness, angst with confidence borne of the years.

Can I take my current knowledge to my next life? Would you replace youth for all you know now? I value what I’ve been through to get here. I hope you do too.




10 thoughts on “Did you earn anything today?

  1. I did (l)earn something today. the benefit of appreciating life by sharing in another’s experiences. I love that people write and are willing to share what they have been through and how they view these experiences. At present I have second thoughts about privacy and the content on my own blogspace. Wondering if ranting and venting is sharing. It’s been great. very assuring to see learn that it is not always what you say but how you say that makes a difference. Thank you for this beautifully written piece.

    • Hey thanks again. I find that bloggers are very open and trusting, and really who are we to hide ourselves? I am certainly not important in the scheme of things. Today’s blog is tomorrow’s ‘newspaper in the rubbish’. We are all so bombarded with information that we are unlikely to take a blog too seriously. If it flicks a switch in your thinking, fantastic, but you can’t always expect that from what you read or write. But little by little my blog has helped me enormously – working out who I am and what my beliefs are. Plus I get the best feedback and help from others, especially Yaz. Win/win!

  2. You should be proud of yourself for taking care of your kids all on your own. Be proud of the good things you have done and be proud of the person you are now 🙂

  3. It’s truly special to get a glimpse of the person behind the words. You have indeed walked a steep path and what is pure inspiration is your strength of spirit and your will towards wisdom in each of your life changing moments. You are pure grace, sweet friend! Yesterday I (l)earned something from my 3.5 year old… He always wants to keep up with his older siblings and I usually refer to him as ‘too little’ to do this or that… and his response to me was…. “little people are human too, mum”…. wow, yes they are!

    • Thanks Adriana. You made me cry. I didn’t realise I sound a bit ungrateful at the moment. I don’t feel sorry for myself except in tiny, unrealistic bites. My life is great and I know it. I am lucky to have the house and garden and pool in the first place, and these beautiful kids and a job I like.
      Your son sounds amazing, like an old soul. How wonderful. He will always be fine, will always speak up for himself and be a source of wisdom for you. You couldn’t ask for a better trait in a child; better than looks or smarts, I reckon. You will never have to worry about him. I am convinced that kids show their true colours from day one, looking back at my own kids and how they are turning out.

  4. I love my age and that’s down to the experience I’ve had and the things I’ve achieved. What a wonderful post Emma.

    • I haven’t achieved anything except to change as a person and that is what I value most. You have so much to be proud of. Thank you for your support

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