Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On ageing


Children share their thoughts so openly and their truth can sometimes be harsh. "Mummy, you have an old face." Not said, by Rosie, in an unkind way, just they way she saw me, at the time.



So there followed a few days of me suddenly feeling old. Am I old? Do I have an old face? Does it matter if I do? It's funny how your thoughts and feelings about yourself can be so affected by a comment. But if I'm honest with myself these thoughts about aging and the way I look, have been wafting around my head for some time.



I know I'm not the only one who thinks about getting, & looking older. A friend told a story recently about how she had once stopped dying her hair & let it go grey. All her female friends loved it and told her how fabulous she looked. After a while she resumed colouring it. Suddenly all her male friends told her how good she looked & made comments like, "You were looking so sick for a while there, were you unwell?" Another friend told me how she was once mistaken for being the grandmother of her own little girl. A friend sent me a text yesterday which read, "my hands look old'. Magazines are full of articles on botox and plastic surgery. Of photo's of unreal women with faces changed by chemicals and knives. How terrifying that it can come to that. Getting older, looking older seems to affect us all in different ways. How do you feel about it?



If I look at my face I see a woman of 43 who has had a full, diverse, interesting, challenging, happy, sad, fun, busy, lucky, loving, loved, colourful life. Yes, I have lines and my skin isn't as smooth or young looking anymore. And yes, it will get more lined & older as time goes by. I'd love to say that this doesn't matter at all, but the reality is that sometimes I would like to look fresher, less tired, prettier! It's silly but it's true. I'm finding that where I was always the youngest, the smallest, I'm now one of the older ones. How did that happen? I still see myself as that girl in the black & white photo booth at sixteen, looking serious and not much older than twelve.


I'm not going to be someone who loves their wrinkles, but that doesn't mean I don't love who I am. Or who I strive to be. I'm not going to avoid the mirror, it would be like avoiding myself. Instead I try to look in it and ask myself, "Am I the person I want to be? Am I kind, grateful, caring? Am I a loving mother, partner, daughter, sister, friend? Am I always learning, looking, making, growing?"



It's up to me to care about myself and see beyond the way I look.


My face may not show the years when I was little and played imaginative games with my dolls and toys. When I ran away from school in prep, how I loved to buy pretty rings and hair ties at the local Milk Bar. When I went for long adventures in the bush, discovering creeks and caves and lost villages.



It may not show the growing up years, the pain of adolescence, the depression, the laughs, the boy who I loved who died before my eyes. The friendships and loves of my younger years. It may not show the babies I lost, the troubled relationship, the trips overseas, my loving mum, the years I studied, the hours I worked.


It may not show my trusty old bike, my gorgeous dogs Ruby & Toby & Spud, the bands at the Ballroom, the beers I pulled. Maybe it doesn't show my trips to Darwin, the new baby who I loved so much, the precious time we had together, our own little family. Does it show how I met my Mark? Or the scrambled, crazy years when we seemed to have one baby after another, loving each one and holding each other close? I wonder if it shows who I am now?


I think it does. I think my face shows that yes, I am older. And that's ok. I think my face shows so much about me, my past, my present & my future. I like the way I look, most of the time. I want to be comfortable getting older and not stressing that I am looking my age. There are too many other things to be thinking about. I have so many plans, ideas, hopes and dreams. And so many lovely people that I want to share my life with. There is so much to be grateful for, to rejoice in, to appreciate, to be caught up in. 43 may be how many years I have been alive, but it's not a number that makes me who I am.


I'm lucky to have the ultimate role model in my mum who is ageless, amazing and inspiring. Always active, engaged, buzzing with life. Connecting with people of all ages, finding something new in each day. Enjoying the love of her family, the warmth of valued friendships, sharing her knowledge, her thoughts, her love.


I hope I can be that kind of role model for my children. I hope they will see past my face and see deeper, into my heart xo

30 comments:

Miss Prudence said...

Yes Bec it shows all of this and more: it shows promise. Promise to continue living life with all the zest and sensitivity you show through your blog.
I share so much, I feel I know you and what a privelige this is for me.....your face oozes beauty and authenticity and life. Keep it the good living lovely Bec, you do it so well .

xxxLynda

Miss Prudence said...

I meant to say "it" meaning your blog, your words and pictures. Darn typos!!! LOL now I look like a self centre zoobhead! LOL

Little Ted Canvas said...

Oh! That is a really beautiful post! I agree with you completely, I was having a discussion about this with a friend recently. We were laughing at how life has kept rolling along with the years flying by, marriage, children, we've turned into our mothers who always seemed old when we were growing up, we must seem old to our kids too but we still feel so young, I bet our mum's felt the same. I look at my parents now in thier 60's & they are far from old, still working too hard, not even close to retiring! I just hope they're taking in all the joys of life along the way - I plan to!

Lizzie said...

Great post Beck, I can remember thinking pretty much the same things when I was in my 40s (a zillion years ago)and I'm still thinking the same things now, rapidly approaching 60!! Life makes us who we are and the #1 rule should be 'learn to love who you are'. Sounds like you're doing ok.
Lizzie
XXX

teddybearswednesday said...

Oh Beck, this is the such a WONDERFUL and BEAUTIFUL post! My goodness. really love it. Totally agree with you, by the way, and I think you have a beautiful face, a beautiful real caring face.
I know what you mean about comments can get to you sometimes, I have a really really young face, some people think I'm 16 an I'm 29, and I get judged the other way, and it used to get down, but now I'm past it. Like you said, my face may not show all I've been through, or who I am. Society cares too much about appearance I think. xo

GardenofDaisies said...

Sweetie, you are a beautiful person inside as well as out.

crzylady said...

Wonderful. I'm crying. Thank you for letting us know. At 30 (any day now) I'm beginning to feel less like a 16 y/o :)

sue said...

Beck your post moved me very much. I think it is true that we all care about the way we look but what is most important is the way we live our lives. I lost my SIL nearly 2 yrs ago now and she was only 40 having dealt with illness all her life but she hardly ever complained and I only wish she could have lived a long happy life. It does make you face mortality after that happens which is a bit scary but also it makes you reassess things too. It seems Beck that you will be one of those lovely people who just gets better with age. I have friends in their 70's who say their mind still feels young, it is only their body that wont act the way they want it too, lol! Thank you for writing such a beautiful post as it just shows us all how wonderful you are.

Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

At 35, I came to the realization the other day that I don't look like I did when I was 16. My husband and I were looking through our old high school yearbooks, and it dawned on me that I've changed. Imagine that!haha

Lovely post and lovely pictures.
Thanks for sharing that insight into who you are.

MiM said...

what an amazing post, your face looks lovely to me! may you always follow your dreams, thanks for sharing.. I have been having a few 'old' days myself recently and this brought a smile to my face :)

Jodie said...

Beck, Your face is the face of someone I am going to become friends with ! Your face when we met told me you were kind and funny and busy and giving and warm and welcoming.
Your face is the best calling card you can have !

Kate said...

What a beautiful post Beck! I just read it to my Mum and my 93 year old grandfather. He asked how old you were, when she answered he said 'oh'. 43 is 3 years less than half his age!! A spring chicken. I love every second I get to spend speaking with you and looking at your gorgeous face. I think you are wonderful and I hope I get to have lots of adventures with you and grow old with you too.

Angel Jem said...

Laughter lines, not frown lines. Eyes closed to shield them from the sun, not in tears, and a mouth that has lines from being pursed up for a kiss not to criticise.
Am I looking older? Yes, but it's a good thing. My life experience shows, and I like that.

sophie said...

I am celebrating my 34th birthday tomorrow and suddenly I do feel old. i have noticed recently slight changes in myself that represent age that I never noticed before. I too still feel young, I have loads of energy and I am busy enough to not be focused too much on it but I must say I don't really like it. I wrote a post ages ago very similar to this about my body, about how suddenly when I was finished birthing and breastfeeding I expected my old body to be waiting for me but it wasn't it was forever changed, but I needed to feel joy for this body that has served me so well, that hasn't ever been sick and continues to work really hard.

I must say that your photos are beautiful, you look fresh and young and really happy, no amount of botox or expensive cream could give you that.

Thank you for writing something so important.

Floss said...

Strangely, I have always looked at your pictures and thought how young you look! That's the difference between someone of around your own age looking at you, and your children looking at you... To our children, we are all old.

This was a lovely post and it would be a shame, really, if our faces didn't reflect all the things that have made our lives meaningful. Thanks for your reflections.

And I have old hands, like your friend!

manda said...

Hi Beck
I see and hear and sense a sweet hearted soul in you and your blog and your bunnies....we'll all be wrinkly in the end :-)
manda x

Freckled Hen said...

When I was 16 I cut out a picture of an older woman swimming in a creek--she looked relaxed and joyful in her life. I knew I wanted to grow old gracefully, something that foolishly I thought would happen naturally. My own mother seemed "old" at 40, she has spent the last 30+ years this way and it is a painful thing to watch. I love her dearly but am comforted to know I am my own adventurous woman.
Your post moved me very much.
Recently my six year old asked where all my freckles came from...she has a moderate amount and I told her when she is older she will probably look very similar to me. She scrunched up her nose and said "I HOPE NOT!"

V for Violet said...

Wow!! What an amazing post!
I too think you look young but there's something else there too, something that shines out from the photos - you seem.....centred.....like you know exactly who you are and are happy and contented with it.
How wonderful to be so aware - life is never just going to pass you by - you're really living it because you're so aware of what you've got.
Looks to me like you deserve all your happiness and good fortune with your lovely family. xx

Hayley Egan said...

All of those stories are in that face, of a very pretty, youthful looking Mum. Great post...

Maria said...

You know I always thought you were WAY younger than me, you are a little. That is a HUGE shock to me when you put your age in.
I think women who allow their hair to go fully grey look fantastic - it's only when its bit and pieces that I am iffy about it, but then again they can swing either way - dye or not to dye

Your children will always keep you young - that is until they become fully blown adults themselves

Kim said...

What a lovely post Beck! I got a bit emotional reading it to be honest. I think I am going through the same stage at the moment, and I can appreciate and understand everything you said. Having only met you face to face for the first time recently, I have to say that the first thing I noticed was your lovely smile. I always check out smiles, and yours immediately shows your warmth and sense of humour. I immediately felt like I would enjoy spending time with you. I wasn't wrong. Looking forward to many more get-togethers. xo

hester said...

Wow Beck! You have so many fans. And you have a beautiful face in so many ways - it reflects your life and the essence of you.

I recently started letting my (about 50%) grey hair grow out after being inspired by the book "Going Grey" by American writer Anne Kreamer and by several of my friends who are going au naturel. I wanted to be more real and honest about my age, but an inch of grey made me feel really old so I decided to postpone the grey thing for a few more years and put a colour in it a few days ago. Maybe when I hit 50????

Julie said...

Great thoughts......we all think them.......I think maybe your daughter might have meant you look "wise" when she said "old". I'm realising too that the clock ain't going back but I much prefer what I know now than what I knew then.

PS. I would have picked you younger than 43!

Happydacks said...

Beautiful written, I can relate to your thoughts on aging! Do remember Beck that Kids do think people look old at a surprisingly young age!!! I'll trade old faces with you tommorow!
Michele xx

Beach Vintage said...

Sometimes I can't even look at myself in the mirror, especially in the mornings. I feel so ugly and don't wish to see. I guess it is something we all need to think about.

Aussie-waffler said...

Beck, that was a magical and beautiful post which has brought a tear to my eye.

gretchenmist said...

better late than never with a comment!
i really love this post ~ love how you've put all these thoughts and memories.
xx

Sarah said...

Wow Beck, you've got me crying my little eyes out. What an amazing post. I think age, and ageing, is one of those strange intangible things....it sneaks up over your shoulder and you can never quite see it, except for a glimpse out of the corner of your eye.... but others seem to point it out for you! I'm 25, and ageing isn't something I really thought about at all. I still feel exactly the same as I did when I was 15. But my 14 year old sister got me thinking a few weeks ago when she announced I was no longer a valid source to go to for fashion advice because "you're 25, you're like.....old now. You're.....well a bit of a dag."

I guess what I'm saying is, those younger will always make those who are older feel......old, I guess.
Once my sister got me thinking about ageing (and I got over the shock of being labelled a dag) I was pretty pleased. I'd happily trade any kind of 'hip, young and cool' label for the comfort in my own skin I feel now that I never had when I was younger......

Leanne said...

I've been thinking about this post for a few days. I think facing the big 40 soon has had me thinking a lot of these very things...and smiling quite a lot too. It's partly bittersweet but I'm finding this such an age of self awareness, renewed confidence and a sort of liberation. It's a good place to *be*. Thanks for your honesty and grace. It's truly beautiful.

Nikki Cardigan said...

What a beautiful post to read Beck. You have shared so much about yourself through your thoughts, reflection and interpretation of the world. You are already a role model, not just to your children. xxx