Wednesday, 6:00 PM
When do we start caring about what others think of us?
I am sitting her watching our youngest dance joyfully in the middle of the coffee shop. Puma is mortified because Otter is hopping around; doing her best estimation of the steps she has watched her siblings do in class today.
Puma hisses at her to stop. Otter keeps dancing away without a care in the world.
I love it. I wonder – will I ever be able to find that exuberant spirit again? And I ask you: Do you remember being little and just doing whatever came to mind and not caring who saw or who commented?
I have dreaded ageing. I remember doing the competition makeup for some of our older ladies when I was a pro dancer in my 20s and comparing their sagging eyes to my fresh, tight ones. Now as my eyes look more and more like those I used to despair at having, I have to face the fact that I am closer to being that older woman now.
What have I gained in those years between tight smooth eyes and my puffy aged ones? What have I learned since my hands were smooth and clear, now that I look at my wrinkled and newly spotted ones?
I won’t lie – I am so tempted to buy into the miracle creams and soothing tonics to tighten my eyes, smooth the wrinkles, and lessen the look of age on my hands.
What stops me? The refusal to deny all that my body has endured since my 20s when I was the picture of vibrant youth. I have loved deeply. I have been heartbroken. I met the perfect partner for me. I have been pregnant five times and birthed four humans into this world. I have faced fear and overcome. I have triumphed. I have been humbled. All of it has happened in this skin that houses my soul. A soul that is constantly evolving, learning, and growing.
I know that I could do all those things and still look ageless, and I applaud those women who pull it off whether it’s by genetics or products. A part of me envies you. When I look at the sum of things, I realize that I don’t want to look ageless. I want to carry my age with grace. I believe that if I continue to feed my body with good food, then I don’t need chemical peels on a regular basis to allow my beauty to shine (I’ll keep it as my guilty pleasure on vacations! Love my facials!!). If I continue to exercise moderately, I won’t be a tight, taut figure ever again. However, I can keep my heart fit so it can keep beating and meet future generations of our family.
So here I sit…closer to 45 than I ever imagined. I once thought that I would like to die by the time I was 65 – I never wanted to look old. Now I realize that if I died in 20 years, I would miss out on the greater portion of our children’s lives…and that I’m not afraid to be old anymore. I am more afraid that I won’t have the time to do all the things I want to do before my life ends: raise our children, travel as a family, go back to school, study pregnancy and nutrition at a PhD level, and continue to speak on the things I am passionate about: pregnancy, the birth journey, breastfeeding and parenting.
In the interest of transparency, here is my true confession…I don’t like my gray hair. I will be coloring my hair until it looks ridiculous and the rest of me points to the fact that I should indeed be a gray-haired old lady.
BUT the best part of being that gray-haired old lady that I also learned from our older dance students: they got to have fun again…with no filter. Those older ladies flirted mercilessly, told stories of their youth, danced without censure, and loved being alive. Many of them enjoyed being able to pass off as a blond! I don’t know about the flirting…actually I do know…since I am happily married I will refrain from that for now. I will probably try everything else.
I will take the lesson to be carefree from our little love and the little old ladies…today is the day to start dancing again, without a care for who is watching, who is judging, and what they have to say about it. And be in this day, present, and living my life to the fullest measure. I will be enjoying the fact that I was gifted another 24 hours to breathe, live, love, and age another day.