Everyday and night at 38 years, I look in the mirror. I lean in really close, so close that my breath will often fog the mirror. Its like I’m tricking myself by thinking that if I don’t lean in, I won’t see the crows feet and fine lines starting all around my mouth, and closely inspect what time is giving me.
The game went up a notch when I bought the high magnification mirror for my bathroom countertop, so pretty with its shiny stainless base and flip mirror to increase the amount of magnification.
On close inspection, you can notice so much.
I have a distinct memory from my childhood that is burned in my brain. My 5-year old, curly pig-tail clad cousin, Courtney (lovingly dubbed CoCo by Conor… short for Cousin Courtney) was next to me in the car, doing my mother’s hair, who was in the front seat. Of course, we weren’t strapped. Who really was in the early 80s. She proceeded to tell my mother that she was getting a mustache on her lip. Oh, I remember the look on my mother’s face. First, the shock at the comment and then the embarrassment as she inspected in the visor mirror, rubbing down her skin. Even at 9, I could recognize the change in my mother’s face and knew that that comment struck a nerve that was not comfortable for her. A week later, she returned home with the tell-tale red lip of waxing.
Kids say the darnedest things, right. Well, when it is about you, the darnedest things sometimes do hit that nerve. This very morning as we enjoyed a cuddle on a chair in the sun, Piper, my four year old, who, bless her heart, caresses my face and always tells me how much she loves me, stopped mid caress and said, “You have fur on your face, Mommy. It’s everywhere.” She then proceeded to point out all the areas that were fuzzy. Enter image of a soft fuzzy animal at the zoo.
Yes, my face has peach fuzz like a 14 year old pre-pubescent boy. It is there and yes, it is soft. She is not wrong in that statement… but really, it is everywhere, soft and plush. What was God’s plan for this evolutionary downfall. Keep my aging body warmer in the winter?! I have heat in my house! I’ll throw on extra layers! Please don’t let me fur up!
The worst, though, are the hairs that are now starting to spring up on my chin and on my neck. Where do they come from?! Long, course, and black and slightly curly. They have been dubbed Hag Hairs by Dawn Fall (who if you want the best skin lady on the face of the earth… she is right here in Hopkinton, MA). These hairs should only be on certain parts of my body that are never seen by the light of day. They scare the crap out of me. Will I have a full beard at some point?! Will I be that lady that the kids point at in the grocery store, the one with the course mustache? She clearly has not been told that her Hag Hairs are getting quite long and thick… Who wouldn’t tell their loved one about this situation is beyond me! No, I am not that lady yet, right!?
I have developed a sick fascination with plucking them though. Admit it, we all do. Its like we are giving the finger to Mother Nature and saying, “You thought you could get that one by me! Oh, no… not that one!!” I used to keep a pair of tweezers in my car that would come out at stop lights. After all, that visor mirror, all lit up, does not hold back upon inspection. Oh, the blessed glory of plucking a found hair after rubbing down my chin and neck. Well, that wonderful habit stopped one day when I was gloriously plucking and inspecting when I looked over and saw a teenage boy driver looking over at me with a mix of horror and disdain on his face… the tweezers no longer reside in my car.
So how to take care of this hairy situation. They aren’t something that I acquired from a life well lived. They are an unfortunate part of the aging process, right?! I fear the grocery lady. I fear her mustache, that mustache that would grow on my face, one thick black hair at a time. I fear the fuzz, soft as it is. I don’t want to be a furry puppy with whiskers. Not quite as cute on a 38 year old woman.
I think the first part is accepting that I am aging (sometimes not so gracefully) and that aging isn’t so bad! I need to learn to wear my face, something that I am not sure that I ever learned how to do. It was always a mask of sorts. So, here I am saying it to the world, “I’M GETTING OLDER!” Done.
My Mom gave birth to me. I was her miracle. Her only baby and as precious to her as my sweet babes are to me. My face wears the years of smiles and tears, the anger and the joy. My face, aging or not, is intrinsically a part of me. It will be what my children will always remember me when age takes me. I need to own this mug, hair and all, as my mother did many years ago. She looked in that mirror and didn’t hold any resentment for that face. She was prepared to make the adjustments needed.
My mother never did get to age much further than her red lip. She passed away at 50 and never did really age. In my mind she has been frozen in time in a youthful beauty. I am sure, she had her gray hair moments. Her chin hairs and peach fuzz probably bothered her, but that blessed face was mine. It was hers, but it was also mine. Aging could never have changed that. Many things about her body have been forgotten, but her face stayed and will continue to stay in my mind forever. She thought of each month, each day, as a gift.
Well, its time to focus on my adjustments and hair removal. I need to step up my game as my mother did 30 years ago. I am mortified about the thought of walking around in public with that red mark of age on my top of my lip and chin. But then, I remove hair from so many other parts of my body that why would my chin be any different. Yes, waxing it is… I am probably going to have to spend hours on Dawn’s table removing so many tufts of pre-pubescent peach fuzz from my face, but at least I will get some relaxing ocean sounds and a great massage while there. Some fantastic alone time. Ah, the silver lining.
Inevitably, though, I need to embrace whatever God is going to throw my way. I need to own it and be amazed by what I have been given. Years will pass. I will age. But really age is a blessing. It is a gift that I have taken for granted. I am lucky to be given each year. I will continue to look in that mirror. I need to lovingly take care of that face. I will continue to inspect. But, from now on, I am going to think about the love that I need to have for that visage.
I think that the tweezers will probably head back to the car. So what if that boy or anyone looks at me. Without fuzz, I will find satisfaction in the plucking. Why not! I earned this hairs with age, the beautiful gift of age. If you see me with a red lip, you know what has happened. If you pull up at a stop light and see me lost in the removal process, know that I am enjoying that moment. Know that I am happy to have something glorious to do with my age and something terribly joyful to do at that stop light!