Saturday, June 2, 2012

Beautiful 40

  My husband and I turned 40 this year.  His birthday was in February and mine in May.  He didn't seem to mind a bit, but it's been hard on me.

  That's why, when 'it' was finally said today, as in 'the thing that has never been said before', I got really excited.  I mean, I think I scared the woman who said it because I screamed joyfully.  

  I feel the need to tell you the circumstances, because they make the fact that 'it' was said even more unbelievable.  I am not a morning person.  Actually, that's an understatement.  I hate mornings.  Six o'clock only comes once in my day.  Seven and usually eight o'clock, too.  I can't think in the morning, I can't talk, I can barely even SEE.  I.  Hate.  Mornings.  
  But I love my friend Jessica, I love her more than I hate mornings.  Jessica was having a yard sale this morning starting at seven o'clock.  Seven o'clock IN THE MORNING, and she could use some help.  So I rolled out of my bed at six, stumbled into the shower, threw on my husband's old t-shirt and my pants (how I remembered to wear pants at six o'clock IN THE MORNING is beyond me), and went out the door.  No brushed hair, no makeup, grumbling, half-blind from morning allergy.  It's really cold in the morning, and there's too much traffic, by the way, and the sun is way too sunny.  

  So what's the point in telling you that I had barely taken a shower, wore nothing on my face but a sour expression, and was freezing all day so I was wearing my holey, old-lady sweater over my husband's old t-shirt and who knows what kind of crazy pants?  

  Because, when the day was almost done, I met one of Jessica's neighbors.  And she was talking about her kids, and I mentioned my kids, and she said it.  The thing that has never been said.  

  I've complained about it, and if you know me pretty well I've complained about it to you.  You may have even been compelled to say the thing that has never been said, but I couldn't count it because I made you say it.

  See, I had my kids when I was pretty young.  My son was born when I was 21, my daughter came along when I was 24.  I already told you that my husband and I are now 40, our children are now 19 and almost 16.  No one, no one without my coercion, has ever met me, found out how old my children are, and said this thing, the thing that was finally said to me today:  

"You don't look like you have a 19-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter!!!"  

  YES!  THANK YOU!  I have heard this said to other women, I've said it to other women myself.  People say it to my husband.  No one has ever said it to me until today.  Was 40 the magic number?  Was it 19?  Was it my non made-up face?  The big t-shirt?  I don't know. 

  Then, of course, I got reflective about it.  The initial high of the compliment was great.  But then I started thinking.  Is it my goal to LOOK like I couldn't have had time to raise the children I've raised?  Um, NO!  My kids are amazing, beautiful, fun, practically perfect people.  I've been raising that boy for 19 years, and it's been difficult and wonderful and I'm just about done.  I've been raising that girl for almost 16 years and it's been demanding and fabulous.  Raising children is the most challenging and the most fulfilling thing I have ever done, or will ever do.  I want it to show.  

  So, I'm done complaining.  I got my one time 'you don't look like'.  I liked it.  But I don't need another.  I'm 40 years old.  I have a 40-year-old husband, a 19-year-old son, and an (almost) 16-year-old daughter.  We have each other, and we look like it.  And we're all beautiful.  


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crybaby Beauty

  The other day, my daughter reminded me of an incident that happened about twelve years ago.  I won't get into the details, but it had to do with an especially aggressive debt collector, a misunderstanding, and a lack of knowledge of my own rights.  The collector called me, scared me, and I started to cry.  My daughter remarked, while remembering the incident, that it had been the first time she'd ever seen me cry.

  Really?  The first time?  I feel like I cry all the time.  Maybe I do, now.  But apparently I didn't always, or at least my child didn't notice it.  

  Have you ever looked into a mirror while you are crying?  I have, I don't recommend it.  I am not such a pretty crybaby.  I have cried when I'm angry at my husband for complaining about dinner....not so pretty.  I've cried when I didn't get my way.  I've cried when jealousy has overcome me, when I argued with a friend over some triviality, when my son would rather spend time with his friends than with me, when my daughter won't take my advice, when someone at my church said some unthinking thing I thought was mean.  Keep the mirrors away from me when I'm crying about those things, because I am not pretty.  

  But sometimes, I'm beautiful.  Even with the red, scrunched up face, smudged mascara, streaming eyes, and sniffling nose, I'm a beautiful crybaby.  And so are you!  I've cried at weddings.  I cry when I hear stories of salvation.  I cry at baptisms.  Sometimes I cry when I hear songs that remind me of people I don't see often.  I cry when my son sings praise songs, because I love to hear his journey.  I cry when my daughter goes off to camp, because I know I'm going to miss her.  

  All the crying that comes from LOVE, I'm ok with.  Weeping about the empty nest coming quickly....I'm ok with that, I'll miss having them around every day. Crying because I still miss my dad and my grandparents...I'm ok with that, too.  I love them.  

  And what about all that crying that comes from happiness?  Seeing my daughter's photograph in a magazine, checking my son's first year of college grades and seeing that he made it through! There's happiness in that, and relief.  The tears are a release of all that happy.  

  But my favorite kind of beautiful crying is when it comes from laughter.  I didn't ask my daughter if she remembers the first time she saw me laugh until I cried, but I hope she doesn't remember a beginning.  I do it a lot, and I hope I've always done it.  

PS...Baby 'A' here in the picture is pouting because we annoyed her.  She's still beautiful, isn't she?  I'm not so pretty when my crying is cause by being annoyed, though!  Ha!

 ****So what about you?  When's the last time you cried, and was it not-so-pretty crying, or was it beautiful?