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Brick by Brick

Just as, I suppose, a person doesn’t morph from thin to fat, simple to sophisticated, or pleasant to pain-in-the-arse overnight, the path to self-acceptance is laid brick-by-brick until the last piece of hardened clay is used to hit you over the head with a personal discovery.

Those who are lucky or wise, or both, figure things out so fast that their paths are the length of a mere stepping stone, while others of us seem to pave our way to mythical Oz, dodging swarms of flying monkeys along the way.

For me, the long, winding road to accepting that I am no longer a youngster had better end with a souvenir stand. You know, something like the “I survived the road to Hana” t-shirts they sell in Hawaii for those brave enough to take a journey of 600 turns and 54 bridges that will make you lose your luau lunch by the time you get there.

While the hairpin turns of my journey have always taken me by surprise, I am beginning to discover a polite little pattern in them. You see, I’ve noticed that I am tricked into feeling young whenever I remain seated. The reality is that there’s nothing like standing up and bearing your own weight for long periods of time to make you feel your age.

I have plenty of peers who stoically accept their age, without waiting for the gravitational pull of their bottoms to chairs before coming to terms with it. They are the ones who seem to internalize their change in status the first year their birthday cake goes from illumination by individual candles to specific wax numerals. It’s such a quiet and practical acceptance of reality, as if to say: There’s no point ruining a good celebration by causing an inferno. 

Unlike these people, I seem to go kicking and screaming as if thwarting an attempted kidnapping… okay, okay, a middle-aged-woman-napping.

For the record, this reality is not something I think about often. It really only comes to mind when the strangers I encounter while going about my suburban business break through the spry little soundtrack in my brain (think Beyoncé) and shake me by the emotional shoulders.

If people would only think about their message and tone before dropping it on the fragile amongst us, there would be far less of a risk that the photo accompanying my column would soon sport Lisa Rinna’s Barnum and Bailey lips or Meg Ryan’s Punch and Judy cheek implants.

My simple request is that if you are generous enough to declare my preteen and teenage daughters as beautiful, can you please mask your shock and awe over the subject? As you look from them to me so incredulously, I swear I hear the first three bars of Cookie Monster’s “One of these things is not like the other” song.

If you find this paranoid, I need to let you know that just last week I suffered my fourth assault on the subject. I was picking up one of my collagen-rich daughters at dance class and started chatting with a mom I had never met. We exchanged pleasant banter until class was wrapping up and she pointed out which of the girls was hers. I then pointed to my tall, blonde and blue-eyed mini me, and I swear the woman reacted as if Oprah Winfrey were claiming Dakota Fanning as her own flesh and blood.

“She’s beauuuuutiful! Oh my gosh, she’s yours?”

If not for my husband, my beloved partner in aging who shares my need to laugh as these ego-shattering shards penetrate my psyche, this type of incident might prompt me to jump the proverbial shark by injecting Great White cartilage in my face.

Fortunately for me, my man was still on-hand when this assault was followed up by an in-house attack by my daughter that signaled my brick path was just steps away from the front door of a denial breaking.

Just one day after the dance class incident, my other daughter was headed out to a Valentine celebration in jeans I suggested might be too tight for public. Her response was to vamp and try her hand at sassy with a cheeky “You’re just jealous.”

My response? After a surprised recognition of the friendly fire, I quipped:

“Honey, that’s where you’re wrong—I’ve got a closet full of tight.”

My husband’s laughter was the most romantic Valentine I could hope for. In fact, I’ll use the memory as the mortar to hold down the next brick on my path to self-acceptance.

And I’d better lock that brick down before someone hits me over the head with it.


This column was published by the Almaden Times.

Shana McLean Moore resides in Almaden Valley. In addition to being a staff writer for the Almaden Times, she is an author and motivational speaker on the subject of community building. She can be reached through her blog: http://www.sunnysidecommunications.com

9 Comment count
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Great line! A closet full

Great line! A closet full of tight!

Yeah, me, too, but give me the sweatpants any day.

I had sons, so I missed out on this one. The only weird thing that started happening as they grew to men is that if we were walking down a sidewalk together (one son and I), or at a movie, people would give me this evil glare: as though I were a "cougar" with her young boyfriend.

It gave me the creeps. But now that I am clearly "way" older than they, that has stopped!


Jessica Barksdale Inclan

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Tight, alright

I just hope my daughter remembers this banter by thinking she had a mom with a good sense of humor and not one who was a jaded ol' downer. I promise I laugh when I say this kind of thing, but geez! It's tough on a gal to observe an acceleration of the aging process at precisely the same time her daughters start to blossom. If I don't find the humor in all of this, I'll be self-medicating with something stronger than a latte.


Shana McLean Moore

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Who ARE these people???

I think you're gorgeous and so youthful-looking. And I've met you in person, so I'm an expert on this.

But I don't doubt for a moment that the insulting inflections are happening, as you know that of which you are on the receiving end. I just can't see the reason for them.

Your comeback to your daughter was hilarious.

Katie Burke

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in their defense

In defense of the perps (yes, I used to watch too much NYPD), I don't believe anyone said these things with malice, and I am not sure that makes it better or worse. LOL.

I'm just gonna keep on sinking these laugh lines deeper to accelerate the process of complete acceptance on my end...


Shana McLean Moore www.caffeinatedponderings.com www.sunnysidecommunications.com

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"Oh my gosh, she’s yours?"

I often find myself saying this to old friends but for completely different reasons. It's because I look at the person and think "No way! How can you have kids that age, you're just way too young!"

I'm (about to become) 41 by the way so that comment defies logic when I speak to old school friends. I think I still see them as teenagers though! An old friend has just turned 40, her kids have just turned 17 and 18 and I *still* can't believe she's old enough to have children older than a couple of years! She's hardly changed imho so it seems wild that she would have kids that are now older than how I remember her!

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I suppose that's another way to consider it...

but the context never feels like it to me, especially coming from complete strangers.

My twisted mind is always happy for fresh fodder, so I secretly enjoy the sniper fire.

Thanks for reading and commenting, my compadre of 41-ness-osity!

Shana McLean Moore

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Thanks for your response. I know what you mean

and sadly accept that most people who will make comments like this will say it in the context that you have described. It personally drives me nuts!

My mother has mastered this dreadful art and it is one of the reasons I have refused to let her near Gina or her family for over 12 years and I have distanced myself from her for several years too.

I feel it is obvious that whatever drives people to say anything along the lines you have described (not just about childrem, but about anything at all) means that they feel they are lacking in some way in their own lives to such a degree that they must try, even with a stranger, to win some sort of points or to try to put someone down in some way. I find it pretty pathetic.

Mind you, if such badly aimed sniper fire means that those silly bullets are ricoched back at them then maybe there is fun to be had with people like this and power to you for being able to do it. :)

I hope this is not too 'ranty'. <blush> :)

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Sniper fire

I couldn't agree more about your theory regarding why people snipe. I say something similar to my middle school aged daughters on a weekly basis-- People who are miserable feel the path to self-improvement is too daunting, so they take a shortcut by trying to bring the people around them down to their abysmal state, proving the expression "Misery loves company."

The funny thing about the experiences I have had regarding a stranger's surprise that I could be related to these lovely creatures I am raising is that the surprise is truly genuine. (If it isn't, then their acting should have recognized at the Oscars this week.) I would love to excuse the comments away as sour grapes by these people, but they really are genuinely perplexed. This means I can't get mad... but I can Botox. LOL, for now anyway.

Thanks so much for reading and engaging me in discussion, Ryoma.

Shana McLean Moore

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oh, that line....

"...the long, winding road to accepting that I am no longer a youngster had better end with a souvenir stand." Love it! I feel like I'm accumulating souvenirs rights and left. Forty is on the horizon for me (eighteen days and NOT counting). The other day, my five-year-old asked exactly how old forty is. I explained that if we took seven more of him and added all eight lives together, we'd have mine. (Egads. What frickin' math!) His response: "Oh cripes, Mama, does that mean you're about to turn all wrinkly?"

Thanks for the good read, and also for visiting my blog and commenting on "F---ing Facebook." Lovely to "meet" you, dear!

Ellen Urbani