Do the childfree and childless experience ageing differently?

By Victoria Fryer 

About a month ago, I found my first gray hair. I was so amused, I was almost giddy about it. I emailed my best friends, called my mom, texted my husband. “You’ll never believe it,” I said. “My first gray!”

Then I found a second one and realized it hadn’t been an anomaly. That, in fact, perhaps it was part of a trend.

I guess I never thought it would happen to me. All my life, I’ve looked young for my age, and I assumed that would continue. Also, I’ve always felt like if I never tried to grow up, really, that I wouldn’t start breaking down, ageing, wrinkling, graying. But here it is… starting to happen to me

Full disclosure: I am only in my early thirties, so stressing about age is not something I’m really trying to do. It’s not that I feel old, per se. But I’d be lying if I said the gray hairs—and the backaches I feel as I get out of bed in the morning—didn’t get me thinking. I feel the beginnings of getting old.

Everyone ages differently. I see a lot of old friends or acquaintances on Facebook who look so much older than I do, so much older than, I think, their age. Some people say that having children keeps you young and playful, but I actually always assumed it was kids that aged you. They cause stress (both mental and physical), keep you up at night, force on you more responsibilities. After all, parents have little pieces of their hearts running around in the world, outside of their control.

But something else I’ve noticed about getting older is the change in the way I experience time. When we’re children, everything seems so long and slow. The length of the day relative to the length of our lives to that point—days felt like ages.

Now it feels like time goes so fast. After a full day at work, a couple of chores at home, and maybe an episode of my favorite television show, the day’s passed in the blink of an eye, and I find myself fighting sleep, trying to get a little bit more out of it. Five more minutes. One more page of a book.

A year passes and I think, as we all do, where did the time go? What did I do? What even happened over the last twelve months, the last 365 days. Has anything changed?

This is one thing I think parents experience differently. As they watch their children grow up, something is changing every day. They are literally watching time change the world. I’m sure that days and months and years go by as fast—or faster—than them, but they can see the effects of time.

Those effects of time really sneak up on me.

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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