Wednesday, April 11, 2012

old enough

Last night, I dreamed my hair was falling out.

I kept reaching around to the back of my head and retrieving long, golden blonde locks. I placed them gently in a box lined with white fabric. I asked someone for a mirror, and I looked at the back of my head. I could see that I had a very bad haircut, and I perceived that I had done it myself. It was strange - all short in the back around the crown, but long in the front. I kept pulling out hair and it kept getting thinner and thinner...I felt incredibly sad, but I kept saying how pretty the hair in the box was, and how I hadn't noticed that before.

It doesn't take a master dream analyst to figure this one out.

I'm getting old, and it frightens and me.

When I was young, I never thought I was pretty, not even a little bit. It just didn't occur to me. I was smart, kind, funny and creative. But not attractive. My nose was short and chubby, as were my legs. I had brown eyes, not blue. I was not thin enough, or blonde enough, or tall enough. I was not enough.

But I was young.

Now, it occurs to me, daily, that I am not young any more. There is plenty of evidence to support this. I am closer to 50 than 40. I have wrinkles and age spots and arthritis. Soon my FIFTH grandchild will be born.

I would like to say that I am OK with this. I used to say that being one year older beats the alternative, which since I can't get younger is obviously being dead. But I'm admitting that lately I feel depressed and panicky about it all, perhaps because even thought the years are flying by, I don't feel one bit wiser. Just older.

When I dreamed of the hair falling around me, and of being surprised at its beauty, I felt wistful for the youth I squandered. Isn't that always how it goes? We don't know what we have until it is gone. I might have even been pretty, once upon a time, but I didn't even know it.

So what am I missing now?

So I'm getting older, so what? Why does youth and beauty seem so precious to me, when I know it should not matter? Like most women, I've fallen for the lie that youth and physical beauty are what gives us worth. The other day my 91 year old father told me I looked old, at least 55. And I let his comment eat away at me. This all makes me so gullible and stupid that I just can't stand myself. For heaven's sake.

If I spend another minute missing the young girl I was, I might not get to know the woman I've become.

I've been married to the same man for over 25 years, and I must say happily so. Together we've raised six children (still in progress!) and have sent one off to Heaven.

I'm still smart, kind, funny and creative.

I've raised one son that worked hard and saved enough money to buy his first car yesterday. My two youngest boys hug me every day and tell me they love me. Every day. My daughters are now wonderful mothers, and my eldest son is about to welcome a son of his own. He can't talk about how much loves his son's mother or his new baby without getting tears in his eyes.

All of my kids go to church, and all but one or two regularly eat vegetables.

Recently, a teenage girl told me that I am one of her role models.

I have a job that allows me to use my talents for the good of others.

I don't need to be young, thin, or pretty to do any of these things - to be the person I need to be. God willing, I have many years ahead of me to understand what is needed of me. I can grow up while I grow older.

I'm might not be young, but I'm young enough. I'm enough.


elena maria vidal said...

You're one of my role models, too.

Michelle Martin said...

Wow. Very beautifully written. I think I need to be enough. Thank you for inspiring me to believe myself to be enough.

Do Not Be Anxious said...

From someone who is closer to 70 than 60, and whose mom just turned 94, I can tell you (with the wisdom of age) that it is not what you look like, but who looks like you.

The people you influence through who you are, who become more like you, are the reflections and summations of your life. You have beautiful children who reflect who you are. And I'm sure you have similar friends. You are most blessed. Look at those around you; you'll see your beauty in them.

Holly@A Life-Size Catholic Blog said...

What a wonderful post! I think we all have the same feelings you've so eloquently expressed. I keep wondering how everyone around me keeps growing up and getting older when I feel the same as I always have (inside that is). Then of course there is the outside. When I look in the mirror and can pull back the skin and think wouldn't that be nice, oh, well!

I have a link up (Pay It Forward) going on over at my blog and I'd love to have you join in if you have the time. It runs until May 14th. I'd love to have you link up with us!!!!