I’m getting older. Wrinkles have formed. I’ve lost the chubby cheeks I had as a teen and they are now replaced with the hallowed, jaw clenched, anxiety ridden cheeks of a mother. The skin around my lips is starting to sag and I’m positive jowls are in my future. My neck looks like chicken skin and I am now the proud owner of 8 neck chins. (I have buyers remorse.)
My nose is crooked from three nose fractures. My eyelids are so saggy that if I wear eyeliner it just imprints itself on top of my eyelid making a second eyebrow. My ears have started to sag and earrings sit crooked in them. I have lines above my lip from pursing my lips at ambivalent toddlers. The freckles I hated so intensely in my youth that dotted my nose and cheeks have turned dull and red. My skin is yellowing and I’m pretty sure that means something bad.
There are days where I seriously consider a face lift and getting my nosed straightened. I look the oldest among friends my age. I look tired.
But there are moments. Moments like today where I sit in the pediatrician’s office with 3 children who have not had naps and I wait, numbingly voicing dos and don’ts to my kids as the nurse practitioner researches what type of worm my children have… yes you read that right… worms. Not pinworms. Parasitical worms. Thank you Thanksgiving undercooked ham.
I sit here reliving the events of today. The woman who berated me for my choices as a mother on behalf of my 4-year-old. The 30 minute court review hearing for our foster baby. Brutal.
The naptime struggle that ended in no naps. And now… in the doctor’s office waiting to hear the consensus of a Germophobic, OCD mother who literally can’t deal right now with what’s happening. Knowing what lays ahead in this disgusting battle and knowing that my 6 year old is going to lose his ever lovin’ mind when I tell him that we are going to have to skip Awana tonight.
There are moments in the midst of my mind, body and soul screaming, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE,” where I catch my reflection in a mirror. I see the woman through the looking glass and she isn’t me. She is older. She is tired. She is worn out. Her youth is fleeting. There is no more naiveté in her eyes. It has been replaced with the burdens and sorrows collected over a saturated lifetime. She looks distant. She looks faded. She doesn’t look like me.
She looks like a woman who has lived.
Like a woman who has traversed suffering and pain and walked away standing up straight.
She looks like a woman who doesn’t hear the “I cant’s” but quietly whispers, “I can.”
A woman who knows her strength and knows her own mind.
She will not be wavered.
Like a Mamma Bear who will fight fiercely for her baby cubs, no matter their age.
She looks determined.
She looks like she knows how to kick ass and take names, but is also able to rock and sing a child to sleep in two minutes flat.
She looks like a woman who has encountered many sleepless nights without complaint.
She is a woman who loves her tribe dearly and would do anything for them in spite of her own hectic life.
She looks like a woman whose soul is deep and love is wide.
She looks like she has found the bottom of herself and found peace waiting there.
This woman is not me.
She is the woman who has grown from the seed of myself that was planted that day I burst forth into the world on my own ready to learn. Ready to grow. Ready to challenge. Ready to live the zest of life the world has to offer.
She is the woman whose dreams and ideas have been pruned off in order to grow new branches of life. Most literally.
She is the woman who fought her way out of the hard shell of that seed pushing, yearning, prying, kicking… to find out what was outside and who she really was meant to be.
She is the woman who is on the other side of the looking glass.
She is looking back at me.
She is thinking how young I look.
How beautiful my skin is.
She is pondering her envy of my youth. My ability to start this moment and do anything I want and put my mind to.
She is thinking I am not her.
I couldn’t be.
We are so different.
She is thinking I am so young and shifting.
And I am thinking she is so old and worn.
I am not her.
She is not me.
In these moments where I see the past and the present and the everything in between, there lies two very distinct women inside myself.
One in the looking glass and one out here.
Some days we don’t understand each other and arguments break out in full force.
Some moments, in the most mundane moments of life, we sit in a pediatrician’s office starring at each other.
She on her side and I on mine.
And for a few brief seconds, there is an understanding.
We cannot live without each other for the seed still needs the hope of blooming to fight its way out of the shell and the flower which has blossomed from the seed still needs the nutrients of the shell to survive.
For today I have discovered that while my face and body are starting to go the way of all the world before me, my heart grows younger still.