In need of advice

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
In need of advice
23
Wed, 04-17-2013 - 8:02am

  I've posted on here before and have gotten much good advice, so here I am again.  In a nutshell, I have 4 DDs ages 21 - 29.  I live in the midwest, DD29 lives in CA, DD27 lives in NJ, DD25 lives here in my town, but, at the present time, we have no relationship, and DD21 goes to college 45 minutes away.  Their father divorced me in 2007 and I feel my relationship with my DDs has disintegrated since that time.  They were raised around HIS family and dislike my current husband, so I am always the one left out.  I just finished up therapy to which my therapist told me I just need to accept all this.  HOW do I do that when I devoted my life to these DDs and aren't DDs usually closer to their mothers than their fathers?  Every time I turn around, THEY are together as a family and I'm on the outside looking in.  I told dh last night that I feel like all my ex did was replace me.  THEY are still a family and I'm alone. I want to be able to accept all this, but the hurt just seems to continue.  I don't WANT to hurt anymore, but my body reacts as such when I hear things.

  So, anyway, I was on Facebook last night and noticed DD21 posted to DD29, "Can't wait to see you this weekend!".  I thought...how is she seeing her?  Then I remembered months ago DD29 telling me that she was going to be in Chicago this Spring for a seminar for her job, so if anyone wanted to see her...(Chicago is a  5 hour drive from here).  Knowing DD21, she is probably going with her father and stepmother, but never said a word to me.  I saw her just 2 weeks ago and she didn't say a WORD.  She and I could have driven there and had a fun "girls" weekend with DD29, but, again...she said not a word.  DD29 never calls, but I did talk to her at Christmas and her birthday (a month ago as I called HER) and she never mentioned her trip to Chicago.  I have a feeling they were all keeping this from mom because they know how hurt I get when they do things as a "family" with their father and won't with me and dh.   I posted, "That's THIS weekend?" on Facebook, so they then KNEW that I knew.  DD29 just posted back, "This weekend and next."  I have no idea how to respond to any of this.  I am SO hurt (AGAIN) and just want to pull back from all my DDs.  They hate dealing with me because I always get hurt (who wouldn't), so my gut reaction to all this is to just stop communicating with them at all. They sure have no problem ignoring my texts and phone calls when they feel like it, so I figure I can do the same. I had privately messaged DD29 last week "I miss you.  That is all."  No response.  I called her last Sunday...never heard from her. And now THIS.   I know I'm supposed to not expect anything from my DDs which is how I'm supposed to accept all this, so if there is a magic pill out there to help me do that, I'd sure like to know because although I know it would help, my heart just breaks every time something like this happens. I wish I could just be numb about it all.

  I realize that I forgot she was coming our way (I work for a tax office and got all wrapped up in work), but, don't you all think if she had really wanted to see her mother that she would have asked me last month when I spoke to her if I was coming to see her?  That's how I feel...like it doesn't matter to her and, if DD21 had never posted anything on Facebook, that Mom would never have known and they could have had their "family" weekend and Mom would have been none the wiser. 

  A friend of mine recently put a post on Facebook...something about people who want to be in your life will make the effort.  I don't feel like any of my DDs do, so am tired of always being the one to reach out.  I know all of my DDs are wrapped up in their own lives (none married or with children, so their lives are all about THEM), so try to remember how selfish and immature they are at this point, but it doesn't make the hurt any less.

  At this point, I most likely will shut down and do nothing at all  Too hurt.  Just the fact neither of my DDs said anything breaks my heart.  So, I guess my question is to you all is what would YOU do if anything at all? 

 

Thanks.

 

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Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Wed, 04-17-2013 - 12:50pm

Hello again, Startingover.  Sorry to hear that the relationship between you and your DDs are no better than before.  I can hear your pain in your writing. 

What I have found when reading people's posts on boards, or this board, since I only frequent this board now, is that more often than not, not knowing the person at all (as in your case) and only hearing one side of the story, (yours) and I realize you cannot go into minute details of your family's life story, it is really difficult to give advice.   It sounds like your DDs and you could do family counselling together, but I assume that they wouldn't be keen to do that.

How does one erase the pain of feeling unloved by one's DDs?  Would understanding how they feel help?  I have no idea, but it sounds like they are angry.  If so, I don't know if there's anything you can do to help change how they feel.  (This is where I figure family counseling sessions might help?).  Frankly I don't like second-guessing what your DDs are feeling and/or thinking - I have no idea whatsoever. 

I am going to venture a guess though that the more you cling to them in a needy fashion, perhaps the more they will want to push you away.  I am going to tell you that when my DD was small, I had difficulties with our relationship.  (I had three sons before she was born and didn't feel towards them as I felt towards her).  I know that how I felt had to do with me - it certainly was not her fault...and to this day, I'm not sure why I felt this way, but something in me wanted to push her away and the more I did the more she clung to me...actually pretty much DEMANDING me to love her...no kidding.  I felt guilty, like I wasn't loving her enough (probably not) but I think I was working under some subconscious feelings and even I didn't understand why I reacted that way.  I think mothers and daughters do not always have close relationships - in fact more often than not, there are more problems between mothers and daughters than mothers and sons.  

I have been in therapy for a number of years for my own personal difficulties - and I don't know if it is because I have become more accepting or understanting of my own feelings or whatever in this process, but as my DD grew into an adult, we now have a more comfortable relationship.  And more than anything about this, is that I personally (and I want to stress those words) feel more comfortable with her - more able to feel closer to her, more able to express my genuine love for her, and I'm not sure if my therapy has helped her relate to me, or what...but I do feel we are relating a lot better now.  

This may not have any meaning for you in your circumstance.  If you can glean anything from the story of me and my DD, fine, but I guess what I am saying is that knowing your own self, working on your own issues and learning to be happy in your own self and in your own life is all you can do and maybe there is some truth in putting less focus on your DDs for now?  You can't change another person to be how you want them to be.  You can only change yourself, as I've been told many times.  And I've then heard that when YOU change, others around you will HAVE to change - because how you relate to them will have them change in their relating to you. 

Hugs to you, Startingover.  I hope in time family relationships will work out.  I wish there was a  magic pill, but unfortunately there isn't!  Life is for learning...but so I've heard, the answers really are inside of each of us!

Shirley

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Wed, 04-17-2013 - 1:44pm

  Thank you for your advice, Shirley.  Honestly, my counselor was helpful, telling me I just have to accept that I am not the favored parent and that it could take years for my DDs to come around due to the fact they do NOT like my dh.  She also told me to just communicate with them and expect nothing in return which is what I've done in recent months.   But, then when I saw Facebook, plus the fact she never mentioned her trip when I talked to her last month...I KNEW.  I had called her on Sunday and she never returned my call.  I feel that if she had REALLY wanted to see me, she would have told me last month when we talked when she was actually going to be in Chicago.  She never said a word.  

  The only thing I can think of at this point is to pull back.  If they don't want me in their lives, there is nothing I can do to change that just as you said.  But, I am not going to constantly make an effort.  It's exhausting.  When I do talk to them, I always keep it about THEM, and I got thinking recently that not ONE of them EVER asks me how I'M doing and...right now, my life isn't so good. I share nothing with them about my life and they don't ask. Lots going on at home and it would be nice to have just one DD I could REALLY talk to, but it's like they don't care, so I say nothing at all.  

 Time to pull away.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-24-1997
Wed, 04-17-2013 - 1:55pm

I'm wondering if your dd's alienate you because of your new husband.  Reading both of your posts sounds a bit like my childhood.  My biological father died when I was 3 yrs. & my Mom remarried when I was 7 yrs.  It was a quick courtship & my stepdad adopted us when I was 10.  What I hate to admit is I HATED my stepdad & I wanted my Mom to myself because I loved the relationship we had BEFORE my stepdad came into the picture.  So from age 9 - 32 (when he died), he & I never got along, I said some unkind things & at one time even pointed a knife to him.  My Mom stuck by him & because they were together, I never had a close relationship with my Mom.  To this day (I'm 58 yrs) my favorite time with my Mom was from age 3 - 9.  I do understand her motive or reaon for marrying my stepfather (money), but she did 2 things wrong.  1) If you plan to remarry & you have children, your dating period should be a MINIMUM of 1 year.  My Mom had 6 months - way too short.  2)  Don't marry for money - being poor is not the end of the world.  You can survive & be able to raise your children.  Obviously, my Mom was poor & my stepdad was a Wall St. executive.  So we went from rags to riches overnight. 

So I was wondering how was your relationship with your daughters BEFORE the divorce & during your courtship.  Did your daughters say anything to you when you were dating?  Now that you're married, do you think your daughters are alienating you because of your husband?  At their ages, it might be they want their father because he's "nicer" and they can have a less stressful relaitonship with him vs. having an anxiety relationship with you.  As for Chicago, I would go & visit them but go alone - WITHOUT your husband.

Kathy

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Wed, 04-17-2013 - 2:21pm

  Yes...I did have a better relationship with my DDs before meeting my dh and they HAVE alienated me because of him.  I feel it is unfair to punish ME because of the man I've chosen to be with.  I'm STILL their mother and still love them as I always have.  I told DD27 in a letter that I would NEVER NOT come visit her or stay in her house regardless of how I felt about her chosen spouse.  I love her too much to ever do that.  I don't understand how children feel though that it's ok to do that to their parent.

 I feel caught between a rock and a hard place...leave HIM and have a good relationship with my DDs or stay with him (who is THERE for me on a daily basis, unlike my DDs).  I married him after 2 1/2 years and accepted all that he is...both good and bad (mostly good).  Since my DDs are grown and don't live close by, they have never experienced what our lives are like on a daily basis...just based on various things in the past.  DD25 said to me before we parted ways that I have chosen HIM over them.  I suppose to them, it DOES appear that way, but, again...it is HIM who is there for me now, NOT them.  As I told DD27 in that same letter that they should be happy for their mother who has found love again and is happy with dh and that's what should matter.  They should be able to put their love for me before their dislike of HIM.  BUT, they can't seem to do that.

The best relationship I had with my DDs was before the divorce.  If their father had not divorced me and I'd been thrown into creating a new life for myself and making hard choices to do so, I know my relationship with my DDs would still be good.  So, maybe I just need to hold on to the memories of those years to sustain me the rest of my life.  

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Wed, 04-17-2013 - 8:52pm

Don't necessarily give up hope that some day things might change with you and your daughters.  However, if they continue to want to carry a grudge about your husband and if they really continue to believe that it's about you choosing your husband over them, then they'll have to either come to understand that it's not an either or choice - that they are being self-centered or at least immature to think this way.  But then there must be some powerful emotional stuff getting in the way of their seeing things rationally. 

Why don't you tell your DDs what is happening in your life, or whatever you might want to share with them?  Do they cut you off in mid-sentence or do they just effectively say "whatever" and not show any interest and move on from there?  I was just thinking you needn't wait for them to ask necessarily.  But then if they don't engage in a conversation that way, then it would be frustrating for you.  And yet, why should it be all about them?  Perhaps they are not wanting to hear your unhappiness, if indeed that is what you present to them...just wondering if this could be the case...I don't know what you talk about! 

Do you have a close friend you can confide in?  Someone who would listen without judgement and who might have some ability to see both sides of the issues involved?  I gather your sessions with the therapist have come to an end and either you or your therapist feel the case is closed and there's nothing else to explore?

Anyway I sense some angry resignation in your saying that you will pull back and or is it like a 'See if I care" attitude, when really we know you do care?  Is it a tit for tat sort of thing?  This divorce of yours (or your remarriage, maybe more so?) seems to have really caused a rift between your DDs and you.  But I don't know all  of you, nor the details of your relationship with them - so I can only wonder.  You say it's exhausting to be the one to make the effort.  Why is it exhausting?  Is it because you are always so disappointed when there is nothing in return for you as you would want?  Does your unhappiness cause you to be depressed and therefore you feel exhausted, as you say? 

I don't want to belittle the importance of a good relationship with your DDs but is there a way to focus on yourself and find some happiness outside of this problem with your DDs?  I don't know...I'm full of questions but that's all that comes to mind!

I have a friend who has been studying in the Course in Miracles for years...what she's learnt is that when she and a friend may have a falling out about something (especially if it's the other person who is angry with her) that all she can do is look beyond the anger in her friend and even decide that "nothing has happened" and carry on to love that person.  I know this may sound patronizing of my friend (for lack of a better word?) but you might have to see the situation and the point is not to point fingers and lay blame in either case.  Now it may be that there are times she has to allow her friend some space or time to cool down or she may wait a while to see if her friend comes forward to try to discuss the problem or mend the rift.  And if she were to feel she herself needed to apologize she would, but sometimes the situation is that the friend misperceives a situation or feels that my friend is at fault or that this friend has had her ego bruised by again, a misperception of what happened between them.  Not to say that my friend would ignore this friend of hers in this situation.  That she would still regard her with affection and say hello to her and such.  But she never was angry with that friend in the first place...Maybe she felt some hurt at first or was confused by what ensued between them and didn't see it the same way that her friend did, but in the end, my friend knows that it's up to herself to work on her own feelings in all this.  And one thing she has said many times..."No one else is responsible for MY happiness" meaning only she is. (I'm not making this up - It's even a specific situation she's told me about). And yes, in the end my friend and her friend got beyond the anger and resumed their friendship...without, would you believe either of them even referring to the original upset at all?  That's what it means for both persons to look on it, 'like it never happened'.

Enough from me! Just my 2 cents that comes to mind...!

Hugs,

Shirley

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-24-1997
Wed, 04-17-2013 - 11:44pm

I'm guessing you want to hear from me i.e. how is my relationship with my Mom.  As I said, I'm 58 & my Mom is 89.  She is somewhat active, cognizant & in good health.  She lives nearby so you would think I can visit her often.  Considering my cold relationship with her in the past, I visit her about once every 3 months.  I call her about 2x/month.  She actually calls me more than I call her.  I'm sure she would love to have a warm close relationship with me - just like you want it with your daughters.  However, as a daughter, I don't forget the past & although I should forget & forgive, I can't forget how miserable my youth was & how much I wanted to run away as a teenager.  What my stepdad did to me would be considered verbal abuse, bullying, humiliation, etc.  However, back in the 1960's, parents could get away with it.  Yes, there were times & happy moments having parents with money i.e. vacations, clothes shopping at nice stores, my stepdad's family gatherings, buying a house in the suburbs & having my own bedroom with my own phone.  BUT all those happy moments were a drop in the bucket compared to the bullying I suffered.  And my Mom didn't do anything to prevent it.  Anyway, now that she's 89, she wants me to visit her more often to take care of her i.e. help with shopping, doctor appointments, etc.  Do I want to get involved? Not really.  Do I have a choice - not really.  My sister does not drive, so I'm the only one available.  Meaning I have to do it whether I want to or not.  My attitude is if she dies & I didn't help, I'll be accused of neglect.  So, that's the story.

Kathy

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 04-18-2013 - 1:22am

Startingover, I'm sorry to hear that there has been no progress in this situation. I have to agree with your therapist that accepting the situation is the only solution. Did she suggest any ways to help you come to terms with it? Or is it just something that will take time?

I was much closer to my father when growing up and through my 20s. I didn't really start to appreciate my mother until I was a mother. In the case of your dd's, when they become mothers or possibly when they just get enough real life experience with the ways that people treat each other, they may broaden their perspective enough to see you as a person with feelings and a right to happiness. Right now they seem to be rather immature and self centered, and Shirley made a good point about them dealing with some personal emotional issues, that seem to have them stuck in a selfish place.

I imagine that you went over this with your therapist, but is there a problem with the way that you come across to your dds? That they perceive you as needy or disapproving or something? Do they avoid you because they know they have disappointed you and they don't want to deal with it? You certainly have reason to be disappointed in them. Are they the type who avoid dealing with unpleasantness?

I'm wondering if a friend or neighbor was treating you like your dd's, would you keep trying to engage her or would you decide enough is enough and walk away from the relationship? IMO we always love our children but we may not like them, and if they are not being decent people then we may need to eliminate them from our lives for a while. Our own self-preservation comes first when our kids are adults.

I don't know how one goes about lowering their expectations of another person but I think that is what you will need to do in regards to your dd's. I had a very rocky relationship with my dd for all of her teen years and there were a number of incidents that led to me developing very low expectations of what I might get from her. Maybe it was a "coping mechanism" of sorts, the less you expect the less you will be disappointed. But it helped me to let go of things that had the potential to hurt, and occasionally it still comes in handy. And btw, its okay to be angry at them when they act like jerks!

If you think that it will help you to disconnect if you no longer initiate contact with your dds, then go ahead and disconnect. Find other people and things worthy of your attention. No one can predict if they might change in the future but you need to move forward and have more happiness in your life.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Thu, 04-18-2013 - 8:02am

  You ask many good questions, Shirley.  As for the exhaustion...it is emotional more than anything.  Whenever something like this happens, I cry, my heart breaks and, after 4 years, I'm so tired of it.  I try not to care, but I do.  I want them to WANT to spend time with me (which obviously is very little since they live so far away)as much as I want to spend time with them, but they apparently don't.   

As for not talking to them about my life, much of it is about dh and, knowing how they feel about him, I just don't mention him.  I know they don't want to hear about him, so I just don't and they don't ask.

As for happiness, I'll be honest with you, I'm not right now. I have a 20 year old stepson who lives with us and I wish he didn't.  (Long story.)  My husband suffers chronic pain and has been off work for over a month getting treatments to try to ease his pain.  His job is in jeopardy and his pain problem hasn't helped.  He's a very private person and does not want me talking about it to anyone.  I think he feels it makes him appear weak when in actuality, i don't know how he's done it for 12 years...suffered AND managed to work.  All my DDs know is he's got a temper and hasn't always talked nicely about THEM or to me.  Yes...he's rough around the edges, but, he does make me happy.  He's my friend, my lover, my playmate (when he's feeling good)...all those things i didn't have with my ex.  Is he grumpy sometimes?  Of course.  He's just like his father!  I knew everything about him before I married him and had to forgive him his past, but I believe everyone deserves a second chance.  I did and he did.  I came home from work the other day and he already had my cup of tea ready for me.  He was a cat hater, yet now loves the kitten I brought home knowing he hated cats and risked divorce over it!  These are the things my DDs don't see or know because they've rarely been around us.  Dh isn't Mr. Positive and sunny.  That's ME.  We are polar opposites which works for us.  DDs have only witnessed a small portion of who we are as a couple and have judged us harshly.  Plus, they've heard him say negative things about them (he has no mouth filter, but yes...knows it can't EVER happen again), so of course they have reason not to like him.  I don't deny that, however, and I've told them this, that they either accept him as the man I've chosen to be with, or our relationship will suffer or we simply won't have one as is the case with DD25 right now.  I think DD27 has heard me the loudest.  She is my most mature DD and she actually is my one to call and check on me if she hasn't heard from me. I rarely hear from DD29.  I just feel in this situation, if she really had wanted to see me on this trip, she would have mentioned it last month and given me the exact dates, so THAT'S what hurts and I sure wish it didn't.

So, getting back to happiness...I WANT it back.  I know it comes from within, but with dh hurting and DDs who don't seem to care what's going on in my life...it's hard.  I wish I had a job which fulfilled me, but I don't.  I DID when I was raising my DDs...THAT was my most fulfillng job.  I now am an administrative assistant which doesn't fulfill me at all.  I get up at 6:00 every day and go to a job that helps pay the bills.  That is all.  I can't quit as we need the money and dh has little in retirement, so we need both our incomes in order to save and ever retire. I remember being happy in my "prior life" except for the emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of my ex...but I worked part-time and liked it. 

I don't discount the way my DDs feel about dh...they have a right not to like him, but, again...it's their immaturity that keeps them away and putting their dislike of him before their love for me.  I do hope that changes someday.  In the meantime, I guess I'll just pull away...not communicate with them unless I have something important to tell them (as my counselor suggested) and let them come to me when they decide they want to talk to me or see me.  The last thing I told DD25 before I walked out the door in January was that I loved her, but I had to end things.  I DID invite her to one of my therapy sessions so whatever anger she has toward me she hopefully would get out, but, because I was seeing a therapist and not an acual "psychiatrist", she wouldn't go. 

I really appreciate your "2 cents".  :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Fri, 04-19-2013 - 7:41am

  Thank you.  That is exactly what I'm going to do.  My DDs don't like me because, in the past, I have lashed out when they have hurt me by favoring their father and hs family over me...preferriing to stay at his house, etc...Of course they don't like dealing with mom's "hurt", so they have pulled away.  I know where I've gone wrong and am working on not doing that anymore.  That's why I wish my heart wouldn't hurt when I hear of things where I have not been told of things (as in this case) or knowing my DDs are having a "family" gathering with their father when they won't with me and dh. 

As for when I talk to my DDs, they know I'm proud of them (I tell them), so no...I don't come across as disapproving or anything like that.  I build them up and, as I said, I keep it all about them.  I just find it sad that none of them asks how I am.  Maybe that, too, comes with age and maturity.  Again, I wait.

 I know I just need to move on and the only way I know to do that is just keep my distance from them (which is easy since they live so far away) and just live my life without them in it.  If they contact me, great...if they don't, they don't.  I wish I just didn't care.  How do you do that?  My counselor agreed that my DDs are selfish and immature...putting their own comfort and wants before mine and it could take years for them to change.  So, I wait.  In the meantime, I remain silent and pull back when they hurt me.  After my DD posted that she was in Chicago this weekend and next, I did nothing. Dh always thinks I should confront my DDs when they do these things, but that's where I've gotten in trouble with them...letting them know they've hurt me.  They don't see it that way, so they see it as Mom causing problems.  So, no more. I still believe if she wanted me to come see her (I haven't seen her since August when I went to see HER) then she would have given me the exact dates last month or mentioned it at all, which she didn't.    DD25 told me my oldest doesn't contact me because she doesn't want to deal with my "drama".  No doubt that's true, but no more.  She just won't hear from me at all.  I believe that post I saw on Facebook that said, "If someone seriously wants to be part of your life, they will seriously make an effort to do so."  My DDs don't.  I get the message. 

Thanks for the advice.  I really appreciate it.  Have a great day.  Sure wish it would warm up!  I'm cold-blooded, so this cold weather is killing me! 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Fri, 04-19-2013 - 8:00am

 Thank  you for sharing your history with your mom.  I'm sorry your stepfather did that to you and can understand why you harbor resentment against your mother for not intervening.  Have you ever had a heart-to-heart with your mother about they pain you endured and what did SHE have to say?

My DD27 and her fiance overheard my dh being somewhat verbally abusive to me (it was the LAST time he's done that) and the concern I saw in her eyes was painful.  She, my future SIL and I went out for coffee the next day and had a real heart-to-heart.  They were totally open about sharing their concerns about dh with ME and I was able to explain my side of it to them.  (Long story.). I then started counseling as I promised my DD I would and wrote her a letter after getting approval from my counselor.  I'd dare say, our relationship NOW is closer than it was before.  I think she finally saw me as a woman and not just her mom.  She is now my one who calls me now and then and talks to me more lovingly than my others do.  I have also had more talks with my DD21 and she, I think, gets it a little bit.  That's why I asked if you and your mother, as adults, really talked openly about what your stepfather did to you. 

I'll be honest...I NEVER would have subjected my children to dh and the way he probably parented.  He does have a temper and says inappropriate things.  I stand up to him on my behalf when needed, but I never would have made my children live with him.  I read somewhere that's why 50% of second marriages fail...because of chlildren.  I admit...I HATE having his 20 year old son live in our basement (long story) and probably don't make his son's life very pleasant.  But, dh puts up with it because what other choice does he have?  He could leave me, I suppose, but this is an adult child who should be on his own now and we should be empty nesters. 

Sorry...got off the subject.  At any rate, I have forgiven my DDs over and over and over for the pain they've caused me.  I'm sorry you can't do that for your mom.  I'm 53 and my mother is 80 and, since my divorce, as my own relationship with my DDs has deteriorated, our relationship his gotten stronger.  My mother hears my pain because, she too, has suffered pain from her own children...including me.  I was not a very nice teenager and, even as an adult, we had times when we hurt each other and pulled away (didn't speak for 2 years at at time...twice).  I guess if I've learned anything as an adult is that one has to forgive in order to have a good relationship with someone and try to understand the other person's side.  I could continue to harbor anger towards my DDs, but I don't. 

Did you ever seek counseling to get over what happened to you as a child?

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