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
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