So maybe it's a function of my age, but it seems that the wild extremes of early motherhood ~ between being carefully dressed and coiffed for rare outings and spending the balance of most days in my pajamas ~ has leveled out to a somewhat bohemian middleground. I'm only a little disappointed that I never could quite make the June Cleaver grade. But I'm happy that the days of feeling lucky to get a shower between diaper changes and nursing babies have passed and my robe is usually hanging on the back of the bathroom door by 8 am now. I'm glad to be at the point where I can comfortably dress just outside the fringes of fashionability. (Denim skirts, tees and dangly earrings are timeless, aren't they?) I've come to peace with the wild rollercoaster trainwreck that I call bangs and have given up trying to smooth them down into anything resembling the hair-do d'jour. There is a certain privilege to age (Ahem! Maturity!) which releases us from a lot of the youthful pressures of fad and fashion. Suitability becomes more important than conformity. It's good.
Nevertheless, every year at this time, I can't help but feel the same twinges of angst. If you know me or have been paying obsessive attention to my posts (Why would you do that?), you may have caught on that my birthday is coming up, and I can honestly say that is a prospect that neither fills me with particular expectation nor dread. I don't require more than a handmade card or a phone call from my loved ones and a few hours alone with my wh to make me perfectly content. The very idea of planning an occasion of my birthday gives me a rash. And, though those twinges may make you think otherwise, the passing of the years alone does not make me sad in the least. Stretching before me I see the golden days when I can dandle my grandchildren on my knee and hand them back to their parents when they're poopy. I love watching my children grow to be men and women before my eyes; it's like reading several novels at once, except I have a hand in the outcome. No, it's not the fact of aging that bothers me. It's the effects of it.
Like when I look in the mirror.
I admit it. I don't want to look old! My little girls tell me there are too many grey hairs to pull out these days; they're coming in patches now, it seems. It gets harder and harder to lose weight. Harder and harder to get up off the floor. The bags under my eyes can justifiably be called luggage now and anything that can sag is sagging. OK, so it bothers me! Is it vanity, I ask you, though, or is it self respect?
I want to recognize the girl looking out at me from the mirror. I would like her to look like the older sister of the one I fondly remember, not like her grandmother. At least not yet. I want to be attractive for my husband; that's an important consideration. We do compete, in a way, with the women in the world that our husbands meet in their daily wanderings. I don't want to come up lacking. And if I must, due to sheer mortal accountability to time, look and feel less like the energetic young mother that started this career twenty years ago, I hope I can at least replace some of the energy with wisdom and some of the youthful sparkle with radiant distinction. I can age with grace and dignity and keep a youthful perspective. I have the advantage of a positive outlook. I have healthy self respect.
And I have an appointment on Tuesday to have my hair colored. Red.