At my parent’s house recently, I found a little box of slides from a photo shoot done a lifetime ago. They had been sitting there for 20 years, untouched, waiting for their owner.
I’m the owner. As I was looking through them, my 11 year-old nephew comes over. I hold one up to the light.
“Who’s that?” He is clearly perplexed.
“You don’t know? Here, look at this one. ”
“I have no idea,” he says.
“Well here, look at this one… How about this one?” This goes on for awhile. I finally give up and tell him.
“What happened?” He asks, innocently. He’s the only male in the world who could get away with asking such a question. I laughed. I really did. He’s such a little rock star.
“I was wondering the same thing,” I say. And I was.
Eventually, I find a slide that looks enough like me on a good day for him to say “oh, yeah, that one looks like you.”
Sweet child, he was just being polite.
And so I am 40.
I’m looking back a little right now, remembering where I was at 20. I’m not wishing to be there again. Those glory days have been left far behind for my new glory days. But I can’t help but wonder what exactly happened and how it happened so fast that I missed the process?
I swear it caught up with me all at once. Last week, I looked in the mirror and saw a middle-aged woman looking back at me. She scared the sh*t out of me. All I could think was, my poor kids. Do I scare them too?
My solution? Stop looking in the mirror so damn much. Except the rear view mirror in the car, where I always look awesome. It’s a small look at my best part, covered in sunglasses. Perfect.
Things change. These things, they also drop and sag and wrinkle up like prunes. I want to be happy and shiney about the ordeal, claim that age has bought me great wisdom, patience and the heavenly gift of Spanx.
That would be a lie. Spanx are the devil, I tell you. And I will never give my soul (or my muffin top) over to that kind of treachery.
All aging aside, I am still so very blessed.
I woke up this morning to gifts and love from my family. Wilderness Dad stayed home from work to be with me today. My girls, as I write this, are planning a picnic in the backyard to celebrate.
My days, while they often feel like endless labor, can be so beautiful.
Motherhood is not always a thankless job. The Adventurer gave me this necklace for my birthday. I had trouble reading the inscription and caught myself squinting and moving it closer and then away, trying to focus. I refuse to buy reading glasses. That can wait for 41. It says God made you my mother, love made you my friend. Does it get any better than that?
I’m not who I was at 20. And if I stop examining the lines on my face and look around me, I can see the awesome trade off. Beauty is all around me, in the faces of my girls, in the shared love of my family, in the fullness of my life at middle age.
Middle Age. There I said it. I have been really, really, cranky heading into 40. I’ve been through a lot the past 10 years (haven’t we all). I’m moving on. I’m ready to embrace it and go forward bravely into the unknown.
So, happy 40th to me. And happy wrinkling, sagging and forgetting to us all.
May the lighting be ever in your favor.