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