In a few weeks I will hit my fifty-sixth birthday. As you might figure, I see a lot of things differently at this juncture than I did in my twenties. My notion of beauty has changed.
As I look back thirty-odd years, I realize that I don't feel as insecure as I used to. As a sweet young thing, I used to have lists of what I viewed as my physical flaws, and I obsessed over them.
I have to laugh now about my past preoccupation with weight. A few extra pounds would prompt me to skip meals and monitor the bathroom scales with anxiety. This at 130 pounds on a five foot eight frame. Crazy.
I wouldn't mind having the twenty year old body again but I wouldn't go back to the frame of mind that went with it.
Being married to a man who isn't at all perturbed by the more ... shall we say, relaxed ... body of today, certainly has made it easier for me to come to this acceptance. I count myself very fortunate in that regard.
I look in the mirror and instead of wondering if my eyes are big enough and my complexion clear enough, I see other things instead. There are lines around those eyes, but some of those are laugh lines. Some of them are because I am almost 56 years old, and I cherish every year.
Some of life has been tough. But all of it has been mine. And the fact that it shows in my face is just part of my legacy and history.
I was pretty fit when I was younger. Almost two decades of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since then has kept me pretty inactive for huge blocks of time. So much for the svelte profile I'd prefer to have maintained.
Having had five kids (and a twin pregnancy can wreak havoc in this department!) has taken its toll. But my body is a mosaic, and it tells the story of the work and satisfaction that has been mine as a mother.
My kids are grown up -- the youngest is 21, the oldest is 29 -- and my experience of motherhood has naturally evolved over the years. But my body is a portrait of those early years of bearing and nurturing my children. Motherhood will always be a part of who I am.
The twenty year old me would have despaired at the idea of being in my mid-fifties.