The moment when a woman finally acknowledges the older face in the mirror, does in fact, belong to her? The lined lips centering her face the skin pulling downward because of gravity. Surveying those puffy eyes, that sagging jaw line. At what moment does she really look at herself, no longer seeing the taunt skin around the eyes, the flawless pink skin of youth?
There is a short space of time for women when they can look at themselves and reason away some of the crow’s feet and the crinkles across her brow.
I’m just tired…she will decide, or…its been a particularly stressful week, and rationalize that if she just gets that badly needed sleep, she won’t look as fatigued and will bounce right back to the face of her thirty something years in her mind’s eye.
But alas, upon awakening, there is no more hide and seek with the wrinkles, no ignoring the tell tale signs of the beginning of jowls, the softening of the jaw or roundness of chin. No matter what her mind tells her or how she feels inside, the calendar is never wrong and the ticking of the clock never stops.
So there she stands, face to face with her face, one much different than that of her mind’s eye and memory. She can see the freckled face tomboy with long, thick braids jutting out from either side of her head. She can see that same hair teased and curled, piled high atop her head for the Prom, dressed in a gown, the first grown up dress worn against her still rail thin body.
She sees the short practical haircut, a necessity due to raising children. It is the beginning of laugh lines around her mouth, and worry wrinkles around the eyes when they are older, crevices become deeper with each dare taken and every argument lost. Most days there isn’t even time to look in the mirror, and the moments to scrutinize a blemish or two are fleeting.
Until that moment, the final realization is that time is moving quicker than she’d like. For those who have spent their life getting by on beauty alone, the moment can be particularly unsettling. She will now have to rely on substance and stance alone. Knowing that facelifts and other remedies are only temporary and the inevitable will still make itself known, she is forced to reckon with the reality of the face smiling back at her.
Because most of all, yes, it should be smiling! For although there may very well be a tinge of sadness in the knowledge she will never again look the way she used to, there are still many more roads to travel, more adventures to seek and tasks to be accomplished. If she is lucky, she is looking at the face of her mother, or one who has paved the way for her. Should she choose to walk the road less traveled, and then may it be with confidence and joy to face the unknown that awaits her. With the twinkle in her eyes as the guiding light, she can forge her own path to fulfillment. Comfortable with whom she is now and who she can still become should be as exciting as a first kiss.
Life shows up on a woman’s face. At what moment does she realizes it has and embrace it? Does she realize how very lucky she is?
May you never be afraid to look in the mirror or hesitate to speak your life’s number. It is an honor indeed, to acknowledge the fact that you have lived.