Recently, I made my film debut. Well, sort of. My daughter is a first-year film student, and she asked me to act in her most recent movie. Although I am a mom of a film student, I had never before seen with my own eyes what making a movie entails. What I witnessed that day was eye-opening. My daughter was in charge of an entire set, managing every aspect of the production, from choreographing the actors’ movements to ensuring that the shoot stayed on schedule, given the limited time she had at that location. For half a day, I saw my daughter not as my little girl who once depended on me for her every need but as a grown woman capable of managing a film production from start to finish. Most notably, though, instead of my directing her, she was directing me.
I should feel old.
A week earlier, I had made a grueling five-hour drive to Boston and back, to visit the college that my second daughter will be attending in the fall. It meant that I now have two grown daughters and my house will be much quieter than it already is.
I should feel old.
My son, my baby, is starting high school in the fall, and, all of a sudden, he is taller than I and needs to learn how to shave soon.
But I don't. Instead, I feel invigorated. Yes, I have two grown children and a third almost grown, which would likely lead one to the conclusion that I am on the downswing. Perhaps, by the numbers, but psychologically, I feel young, even renewed. My children are in the midst of the most exciting, memorable time of their lives, and because I am there right alongside them, I get to share the memories they make. A product of growing older, it is the energy and thrill of these experiences that keep me from feeling old.
Before participating in my daughter's film the other day, I hadn't done any acting since my sixth-grade elementary school play. Acting would not have been something I had ever thought to seek out at this point in my life (or ever), but my daughter offered me the opportunity to be in her film, and I accepted. As a result, I got to spend the day seeing her in action, doing what she loves. I received the blessing of seeing her smile when she filmed a scene just the way she wanted and radiate satisfaction and accomplishment after she wrapped for the day. We don't often think of emotions and feelings as being something we exude, but I have found that to be the case. I have absorbed the positivity and energy that my children radiate and now feel younger than I am.
My daughter and I are also working on a project together. I had discussed with friends and family for years that I wanted to create a screenplay, but I never had the energy or patience to write one. I often thought of myself as a working mother who did not have another second to spare. That was until, one day, I approached my daughter and said I finally wanted to write that screenplay — with her. So, a couple of months ago, we sat down and began cowriting it, with the hope of producing it once we finish. Part of me never thought I would get to write that story, but my daughter influenced me to go for it, and now we are working together, mother and daughter, which is an even bigger, better dream.
With my second daughter, whom I recently accompanied to Boston, I had the experience of waking up at 3:30 a.m. to make this trek, after which I spent the day touring the college she will be attending for the next four years. A mere seven hours later, I embarked on the long drive home. Driving 10 hours in one day is typically a feat that only a young person, not a middle-aged woman like me, would have the patience to endure. I felt mentally and physically drained, but the experience made me flash back to when I was my daughter's age and regularly did this drive to meet my then boyfriend, who, later, became my husband and the father of my children. And so, I felt young again, like time and age could not deter me from doing the things I once had done, just because nearly 30 years had passed. I still have it in me.
I don't lament the fact that my children are growing older and the inevitability of my growing older. Instead, I am celebrating that I successfully raised (and am raising) three happy, responsible young adults. After all, running a production set by yourself is no minor feat, and being a part of my daughter's was an opportunity I am grateful to have experienced, even at my ripe “old” age of 46. Age, as it turns out, reflects simply the number of times the Earth has revolved around the sun since we were born. It is our mind, though, that defines the quality of our lives as the Earth keeps moving. The key to preserving our youth is, therefore, rejecting the notion that aging means feeling deprived of energy, positivity and new experiences. As I am finding, these are all there for the taking — if and when we want them.