Each morning and each night I face myself in the mirror and interpret what I see in different ways. I am not ashamed to say that I vastly prefer the moments when my reflection lifts me, sends my shoulders back and this crooked smile of mine higher. I love being able to smile back at myself, blossoms of lines sprinting from the corners of my eyes and adding to the complexity of my beauty. When the lines on either side of my mouth shine back as imprints of a daughter’s hands cupping my face rather than hollows of aging.
I do not like to wince or deepen the furrows in my brow as a reaction to my own face. I loathe the moments of weakness when I think, “It will never be better than this moment.” Sometimes the mirror keeps me from the truth and living, suspends me in a place that has no growth.
As I pass the Glens Falls athletic field and see the lacrosse layers weaving in and out of lines, while track and field kids practice long jump, distance runners loop the perimeter and more kids still congregate around the bleachers, I am aware that behind me there are those that will take my place. There will be no more pregnant bellies for me, no more first house, no more oblivion to life not always being fair.
I no longer get carded, my hairdresser says things like, “Well, with older hair…” and I am able to identify clothing as being, “inappropriate for someone my age.” These things can add up to the kind of baggage that has me stopping, somehow ashamed by my diminishing youth, apologetic for not being the optimal age for beauty by society’s standards.
The things I lose when I look in the mirror are what make up the most appealing parts about me. The contours of my beauty are most visible bathed in the radiance of the life around me— colored by the laughter of my daughters as I dance with them, softened by the shadow of Sean standing tall beside me. When I turn inward I see so much less.
Today, Sean’s birthday, I dressed for smiles. I slipped into a dress, knowing how my girls would run to me, wrap their arms around my legs and touch my smooth, bare skin. I smiled as I imagined how Sean would smile that slow private smile when he saw me. I blew my hair dry, and instead of focusing on a cowlick that drives me wild, I thought about Finley patting my hair and cooing, “S’pretty, i’s’a soft, mama. So soft.” I dusted blush on my cheeks thinking of the delight a quick kiss of the brush on her cheek brings.
Imagining myself in the eyes of my family and in moments of living eliminates that game of chicken with the mirror that all too often ends with a, “Why do I even bother?” Today I looked at myself with the love of my family and I saw such beauty. If I could wish one thing, it would be that we could all see ourselves with the forgiveness and love of our families.
When I turn inward I see so much less.
So very true.
And happy birthday, Sean!
To beauty, truth and birthdays. And friends 🙂
Amen! (I’m also all about looking at myself in the mirror without my glasses on. I look MUCH younger.)
Happy happy happy birthday to your mate.
Very touching, and I’m sure puts into words what so many women feel. Thank you for sharing.
Happy Birthday to Sean!
The dress was fantastic. What a great birthday present you were! You get more beautiful every day. We say that about the girls, we notice how they change—sometimes by the hour—and get stronger all the while. The same thing is true for their mama. Just wish you didn’t get more stubborn as time goes by…I’ll see you in the morning. By then you’ll be hotter, no doubt.
GAH. You, and Sean, both make me love the pair o’ ya. And to be willing to step outside of our own eyes is an amazing feat. I’m going to try that. I’m entirely too critical.
Happy Birthday, Sean!
I needed to read this lovely piece today. You are beautiful, my friend. Love to you and happy birthday to Sean! xo
Happy Birthday Sean!
And you, amazing as always. 🙂
You touch my heart. That private smile you received reminds me of the way you characterized your family when we shared some hang out moments. Pure joy. This is the kind of friendship that inspires… much happiness to you always.
I love how you two love each other. Your tweets and status updates always make me smile when I see you swooning over him. He, no doubt, feels the same way about you. It is really nice to see. I love to see other people in the world in a happy marriage. I still have a crush on my husband and I love that you do too.
Beautiful post, beautiful Mama.
beautiful. the writing and the sentiment.
If I wasn’t already on course to do so, ya’ll have made me feel incredible!
From a chronic naval-gazer, this is a much-needed reminder to see myself through the eyes of those who matter.
Thank you . . .
You two are inspiration for coupledom. You know that, right?
Hey Sean, come whisper that in my ear…
This is gorgeous. I love the way you see yourself in your family’s eyes and that you take the time for yourself. And, that you see beauty in the mirror. Lately that has really been my struggle, and I’m grateful for this familiar and successful glimpse of life as an aging mom whose pregnancy days are over and whose children are growing up sooo fast and whose life is surrounded by and because of the family of which she is such a centrality. Your life reflects mine, and I’m so glad for your calm, beautiful words.
I found my way over here by Momalom – so glad I did! You’re right – we could all use to view ourselves through the eyes of our families and children. (Especially when our families contain 2YOs who still think we’re the sun and moon…and when we have a Sean in our lives.) This was a lovely post.
Directed here by Momalom, I must thank you for sharing this gift.
I have to thank Momalom for sending me here, and you, especially, for your heart and your honesty. This is beautiful.
I will be back.
Beautiful and lovely. Brought a smile to my face! So happy to have found you through Momalom.
Came here from Momalom. First off…beautiful blog. Secondly, thank you for sharing this. I am having some issues with aging for the first time in my life, and so often when I look in the mirror, I cringe. Some days, I love what I see. Others…yes, “why bother?” I will try so very hard on those days to see myself through my family’s eyes. Thank you.
You are lovely. Lovely.
I have been pouring over your blog thinking what a great book this would be! This post reminds me of a recent conversation we had re: my surprise when I was told that Botox could smooth my furrow, not realizing I had a furrow until the iPad gleamed back at me. I guess the voodoo spell between Trent & I has kept me somewhat immune to these insecurities, and I do prefer it that way. xoxo