Almost 50

Apparently old age hits when you are 68, or so I read. I’m not sure why that is, and I’m sure smarter people than me have outlined the reasons in great detail but, on the whole, it sounds about right given that I’m soon to turn 50 and I do not think I’m all that old.

Some days I feel old but I’m not really 50, I’m somewhere in my late twenties I think, it’s hard to pin down an exact number but that’s where my head usually lands when someone asks me how old I am. Isn’t that weird.

The truth of the matter is that I am very aware that I’m about to turn 50 but that’s entirely down to the fact I have an almost 2 year old son. He is at once a constant source of delight and wonder, and a reminder of my advancing mortality.

When Becca and I first got together, she shared her desires to have a baby. It was something I’d consider in the past (and obviously decided against) but with Becca it felt right, it felt like where our lives would head naturally and I quickly found myself delightedly agreeing.

With that thought in my head I found myself starting to think what would be required to bring a healthy baby, safely into the world. From conception, through the pregnancy, and the birth itself I admit there were many worries on my mind. As soon as we knew we were pregnant, despite all the checkups going well, it was hard for me not to worry about the baby being healthy, and when it was time to head to the delivery suite my head was full of conflicting thoughts should the worse happen. Thankfully it didn’t, with Jack arriving safe and sound, and Becca handling all of it (and the post-partum issues) with the strength and compassion I knew to expect from her.

There was also one recurring thought that still pings around my brain. It started soon after we agreed that we would be having a baby and continues to this day.

How much of my son’s life will I see?

How old will I be when Jack starts school, how old when he learns to drive, when he turns 21… 30?

Early on I hoped these thoughts would drive me to get healthier and fitter, the longer to live to see him grow up, and whilst that hasn’t really panned out, it’s still a big factor of my thinking.

I know a lot of this train of thought was driven by the (still recent) passing of my Dad. He was only 73 and though my Mum is still going strong in my head I’m always hoping I can at least make it to the same age my Dad was, that’ll make Jack 25 years old and hopefully I’ll grow old with some comfort that he’s turned out ok (I mean, I know he will, but I’m a parent, we worry about these things).

It is a strange thing to have your mortality so clearly outlined. It’s certainly not something I’ve previously considered in great depth largely because I was only really concerned about myself. Turning 40 was seen as a celebration and a chance to mark ‘half a life’ lived, but with the constantly running commentary in my head centred around how many more years of life with Jack I’ll manage, turning 50 seems much more daunting, not to mention so much closer to, well, death.

Wow.

I should pause at this point and remind you, dear reader, that I tend to write these posts with only a rough idea of what I’m going to say in my mind, barely an outline, and usually only a starting point. So forgive this rather morbid turn!

OK, so I’ll be 50 soon but I don’t really FEEL that age… that said can someone tell me how am I supposed to feel? From what I can tell, if my closest friends are anything to go by I don’t really see much difference, and whilst I know these days I’m mostly just a bit tired I think that’s more about living with a toddler than anything to do with how many years I’ve lived on this planet.

I am almost 50. I have zero complaints. I have a great life, have had many great life experiences, and find myself settled, content, and happy, with a beautiful family. I feel loved by many people, and none of that has anything to do with my age.

I’ll admit I do harbour a deep-seated desire to make sure that when I do pop my clogs I’ll leave my beautiful wife and beautiful boy financially sorted but that’s still a work in progress. For now we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and we laugh more often than we cry… actually we laugh more often than most things, we are a happy little pack of weirdos!

A few years ago, with this number starting to loom, I started a little plan I called Fit for Fifty, and it was going pretty well. I got back into running and completed a few 5KM runs. I got heavily into cycling, and last year I had about 5 different organised ‘sportives’ booked. I was driven. I was focused! Annnnnnd I hadn’t really taken into account the time it takes to train for these things versus the time it takes to nurture a baby…

I didn’t make ANY of those sportives and it’s only really now, since I’ve recently managed to get back out on my bike a couple of times, that I realise just how much of a back seat my plans had taken.

Yes, for the best of reasons (there is literally NOTHING I wouldn’t do for that boy) but it still has an impact on my physical and mental health. I’m slowing getting back into it, but still struggling to find time, and when I do have time I’m exhausted and struggle with motivation, it’s a horrible cycle (no pun intended) to be stuck in!

Perhaps this post is my way of giving myself a kick. Or perhaps that was when I signed up for the 2024 Etape Caledonia cycle sportive (55 miles up some big hills), either way there is a vague sense of being able to get my fitness goals back on track. Like I said I have a much bigger incentive than ever before, and I’m doing my best to use the happiest moments with my wife and son to coax my exercise mojo out from its hiding place.

So I’m turning 50, so what! It’s just a number and as I’ve mentioned here before, with life starting to open up again I can look ahead to the future with hope and love. It’s just a number, and if nothing else matters then I can take a look at how all of my closest friends are ageing and take solace that I’m still not quite as old as them, even if it is only a matter of months…