It was my golden birthday on Friday. I can remember a moment in Elementary School where we were all comparing when our golden birthdays would be and mine felt impossibly far away. Now here I am, coming up on my ten year high school reunion, and with wrinkles forming and permanent circles under my eyes, without a hope of ever-again fitting into my “skinny jeans,” and it’s starting to settle in: I’m getting old.
I mean, I know I’m not that old. But I’m starting to feel that way. To ensure that I was still young and energetic, I did attempt a cartwheel the other day. Hadley and Jordan were quite impressed, though they were totally unaware that I likely pulled like 14 muscles in the process and could barely move the next day. (Who am I kidding? Of course Jordan knew with all my fussing about it.)
Perhaps one of the hardest parts about turning 27 was trying to find something to wear on a date with my husband. There are the pre-pregnancy pants which still require a rubber band to close, or the pre-pregnancy shirts that cling in all the wrong places. There are maternity clothes, but I mean, Adrienne is almost four months old, and that’s just depressing. So I selected yet another “in-between” uniform of non-clingy T-shirt and sweater and rubber-band fastened pants and attempted to hide a couple of years with some makeup.
It got me thinking about one of my favorite chapters in Rachel Jankovic‘s Loving the Little Years, called “Me Time.” I’ve read it several times and return to it when I’m needing some perspective. In it, she makes two points worth mentioning (and worth buying the book for). Here I’ll mention the first one:
“Motherhood is a demanding job. It is so demanding and intrusive, in fact, that it takes over your body. It uses your body, oftentimes rather roughly. This can start to bother us…
Our bodies are tools, not treasures. You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dinted body. Motherhood uses your body in the way that God designed it to be used. Those are the right kind of damages.” (58)
She goes on:
“Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the testimony of joyfully giving your body to another…So realize that your body is a testimony to the world of God’s design. Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully. Carry the scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them. Do not resent the damages that your children left on your body…don’t resent it, enjoy it.” (59-60)
It’s like Mater in Cars 2 who won’t let them fix his dents and scratches because he earned each one making memories with his best friend. (Cheesy reference? Cute movie!)
I used to baby-sit these four
crazy energetic kids and I remember once noticing the wrinkles around their mom’s eyes. She really couldn’t have been that old, and it wasn’t her age that made me notice them. It was her smile. When she smiled, her eyes smiled – deep indentations into her skin, marks of memories and laughing and enjoying and playing. Once I was studying her eyes through the rearview mirror while she drove me home. Studying, and admiring. Her eyes looked tired, yes, but man, they looked happy.
Speaking of ten year reunions, I think we all start to fear what happens when we see people who knew us in our “past lives” and they see just how much a toll life and age and kids have taken on our bodies. Just this weekend, in fact, I saw a few friends from college that I hadn’t seen in awhile and the insecurity came on in full force. I worried what they would think about the mark of interrupted sleep around my eyes, or the extra 20 pounds that haven’t just magically vanished since Adrienne was born. But then I looked at my husband, my two beautiful daughters, this blessing of a life that God has allowed to unfold around me, and I could laugh at those fears. And I could thank God for friends who couldn’t care less about under-eye circles and rubber-banded pants.
In this house, I hope we laugh. I hope we make lots of scars and wrinkles and memories. Truthfully, I do hope these 20 pounds will disappear one of these days, but not so I can squish back into the skinny jeans and place my body up on a shelf. So that I have the strength and energy to make more memories, to beat my husband in a game of driveway-basketball, to keep up with these girls, and to do more cartwheels.
A few days in and I’m ready to conclude: 27 isn’t so bad.