written by Cathy Baker, mom of two sweet tweens, who are watching me as I age and contemplate beauty
So last month I turned 40, and as I write this, I will be going to my first mammogram this afternoon. Ugh. To say I’ve been contemplating life, aging, and all things related, is an understatement.
I find myself standing at a crossroads in the road, not sure which path to take toward the future. Both paths will get me there – is one better than the other?
The one path is marked “Grow Old Gracefully.” The other path holds a sign, “Look Youthful Longer.” So here I stand, weighing in on options.
I’ll be honest, my heart is leaning towards “Grow Old Gracefully” path. This path embraces a late summer landscape that is alive with beauty and life. I’ve always believed in this saying, “Never regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many.”
Aren’t these baby wrinkles signs that I’ve been able to live life fully? A souvenir to remind me that I’ve had the privilege of laughing often, of gaining wisdom through the trials? Aren’t they a reminder that my days here on earth are numbered and I should embrace each and every one? A memento that I am lucky to have lived so many days already?
So, should I try to hide, or erase, or eliminate these beautiful baby wrinkles, because our culture embraces ‘youth’ more than ‘aging’?
I admit, I look in the mirror, and sometimes I frown when I see these baby wrinkles; I mean, how did they get there so fast on my face? I’m not sure I like them at times, but I do believe they hold a secret beauty, a contentment that is to be embraced. I’m trying to discover that, even as I’m researching anti-aging products from my laptop.
The other night, laying on the couch, I looked up at my husband and asked, “Are you looking at my gray hair?” To which he responded, “NO, your gray hairs! (emphasizing the ‘s’!) Ha,ha. Oh, the honesty.
Yes, I’ve been styling my hair differently lately, trying to pull the top hair over the gray hair underneath. In my 40 years, I have never colored my hair. My blond-ness does well to camouflage the changing color, but should I color my hair now?
Will it make me feel younger, live happier, if I take the “Look Youthful Longer” path? This path appears full of springtime flowers; but, if I walk this path and pause to sniff the flowers, will I discover their beauty is only on the surface? Are they just silk flowers planted in the soil to give the illusion of beauty? Should I pretend it’s spring, when really it’s the end of summer? Shouldn’t I embrace the beauty that the end of summer holds?
Shouldn’t I just smile because yesterday when I walked out the house, my husband ‘revved’ the car motor when he saw me? Then, when I opened the car door (everyone was waiting on me, and he totally should have been upset because I was making him late) simply smiled and said to our girls “mom revs my engine!”?! Oh, the happiness — he still calls me as ‘smokin’ hot,’ with my baby wrinkles and graying hair!
Is there a third path I’m missing? Can I somehow have both? I mean when the end of summer comes, I try to hang onto it a little longer. I cover my flowers to keep them from getting frostbite. I take longer walks, and simply stop and lift my face heavenward letting my skin soak up the last of summer’s golden rays.
I don’t know what this coming year looks like. I imagine before the year is up, there is a good chance I will have bought some anti-aging creams and got my first highlights. It’s not that I think those things are necessarily ‘bad’ – like I said, I’m just standing at the crossroads, contemplating. Are you too? What is your take on this?
Are you further down the path, how did you make the choice?
Do you have a favorite quote on aging?