My mom's birthday is coming up and I'm sure she's not happy about it.
I've been thinking about getting older and how, as women, we're supposed to be embarrassed about our age. We're supposed to want to stop aging at twenty-nine. We're supposed to refuse to tell our age, if we're a lady. Being called young is supposed to be a compliment.
We all know that younger women are smaller and firmer and that they have fewer wrinkles. They don't have gray hair and their boobs are holding fast to their original placement... but really? That matters to us?
The other day, someone asked me how old I was, and when I told them, they said, "You look so much younger than that!" And I blushed and said, "OH YOU!" and felt really good. But, if I really think about why I felt complimented that somebody thought I looked younger than I was, I have no idea why.
There's a window, too. No adult woman wants to be told she looks like she's twelve years old. That would be too young. The youth that we're envying seems to exist between the ages of say... eighteen and twenty-nine. That's the good breedin' time. That's the time where our bodies are biologically set up to attract a mate and grow a bunch of babies.
The most attractive physical feature is hip to waist ratio. All those women in magazines who are lusted after, polished up and laid out like a buffet... they all exhibit good breeding characteristics. That's why men want them.
And women beat themselves up, trying to appear as though we're still existing in that eighteen to twenty-nine window of desirability. Men don't freak out about getting older, because older men can still biologically make babies. We don't judge them by the same ratios, because our species will survive, even if men have wrinkles around their eyes and gray hair.
As I've gotten older, I've gotten a fuck of a lot smarter. I've gotten better at being a person. I've grown more patient and thoughtful and selfless. I've learned about looking outside of myself, about appreciating people in a multitude of glorious ways, about valuing somebody because of who they are, not because of who they are TO ME. I've become an artist, when before, I was only trying. I've learned how to create and to be responsible. I've learned not to take kindness for granted, to slow down my anger response, to see people as I want them to see me. I've learned that it doesn't matter what a woman looks like or how old she is.
The women in my life have only gotten more beautiful as we've reached our thirties and forties and beyond. I have never once looked at a woman I love and thought, "You're so much less attractive now that you're older."
I've made babies. I've grown them, with my old, sagging, fat unappealing body. Every single day, I help two little people to grow, to learn how to speak and live and take care of themselves. I did that, starting at age twenty-eight.
Do you want to know what I did before?
I fucked around being depressed and irresponsible, killing myself slowly and not caring.
I had really smooth skin and long, auburn hair. I had a small waist and a much smaller butt. I had flawless skin and painted eyes and boobs like nobody's business with little pink, perfect, pre-pregnancy nipples.
Now, everything is all out of place. I'm sagging and widening and things have changed color. There might even be an occasional weird hair sprouting up in disturbing places. The hair at my temples is silver. And do you know how I spend my time?
I spent it in ways that are beautiful beyond measure. I spend it being beautiful.