I recently came across this gem on Instagram…
at first I laughed my ass off, nodding in agreement as I sent it to MB. Then, after just a few minutes of browsing back through my own pre-children photos, it hit me. Holy s*@%!! When did we get old? I look at my face every single say and reassure myself “hey girl, you still got it” but when the evidence is right there side by side, even the fact that Barbie ages too doesn’t make it an easier pill to swallow.
I remember being young and single and thinking ‘old’ was just this abstract concept, a word used to describe my parents and grandparents. ‘Old’ was just something that life handed down to you once your kids were grown and you were ready to accept it as a gift. But ‘old’ is now very concrete and real. We are no longer the cool, young teachers, just a few years removed from the students we teach. We are no longer fresh faced, bright eyed and worry-free. We’re just old. And I’m feeling pretty salty about it.
And yeah, ok, I realize age is a relative thing and we technically still have a few years before we are geriatric [although, fun fact: if you are pregnant after the age of 35 it is actually called a “geriatric pregnancy”], but I feel like the weight of all the societal pressure and internal pressure to look and act young is literally slamming me in the face right now, leaving behind worry lines and crows feet.
So what do we do about this? Nothing, I guess. It’s happening and with every passing night with a still not-sleeping-through-the-night-almost 1-year-old, I suppose we have to accept that, and maybe celebrate[?], that our physical visages are carrying the markings of the emotional toll children and life has taken on us. I will just have to keep looking in the mirror and telling myself “you still got it, girl”!
“You look the best in the last one!” my husband said when I shared this with him. “You better!” I chirped back, “Since I literally took that picture 30 minutes ago!” Seeing the proof that my cheeks are no longer dewy with youthful glow and collagen definitely sent me into a bit of a tail spin, but if I’m honest, I’m not that surprised. I am frickin’ exhausted. This having two babies is no joke and for those that have more than two, you are my forever role models. So like everything else that has come with motherhood, it’s a process to figure out just how to accept that I’m getting older, that I will be getting much, much older, as father time marches on. P.S. I actually don’t think MB looks any different!!!
Erinn is a liar; I wish I looked the same. Also, she’s not telling you that I made her redo her collage because in the original version, her third pic was by far the best one.
But she ain’t kidding about one thing; having two kids is no joke. Five years ago I could probably remember the names of the foremost players in urban writing pedagogy and jump into convos with detailed analyses of the upcoming Oscar-nominated films. These days I can remember the names of all of Peppa Pig’s friends, but can’t manage to remember to go in for jury duty or to bring snack on my assigned day at pre-school. Adult fail and major mom-fail. And, aside from the looming worry that I’m experiencing early-onset dementia, the most logical scapegoat for my mom-brain is, well, my two children.
They certainly must be the reason I look so old. I mean, come on, look at all that collagen I used to have before they were born. My cheeks literally sat higher on my face just a mere six years ago. Like Erinn, I didn’t realize any of this until I created a side-by-side comparison. I was operating under this illusion that, despite not having lost all the baby weight, I was still young and happening.
Very recently, I came face to face with the crushing reality that my self-image is an illusion when I attended a teaching workshop. They asked us to divide based on those born before 1976 and those born after. Naturally, my spry self jumped up to join my fellow millennials, who I ascertained to be right around my age. It started simply enough with a conversation about where you were the first time George W. Bush was elected to office. They started talking about the faux-votes they were doing in their fifth grade classrooms or of having no memory of the election at all. I was stopped dead in my tracks. Elementary school??? When Bush entered office, I had already been accepted to college and was picking out outfits for my senior yearbook photo. These people still hadn’t hit puberty??
It was right around the moment two of these minions of youthful light high-fived over their shared high school graduating class of 2011 that I was ready to wheel my old ass over to the geriatric side of the room. But what really nailed the lid of my increasingly-approaching coffin shut was the doe-eyed face of this woman-child when she uttered, “How old are you?” It never occurred to me until then that 34 was old. The wide-eyed stares and gaped jaws that faced me solidified this newfound knowledge. And then the crown of my learning moment: “Wow, you look good for your age.” For. Your. Age.
Well, I’ll take the compliment, but damn. Ok. Yeah, age. I’m aging. I’ve got the age. And I can let it get me down and wallow in self-pity and pints of ice cream and fillers. Or I can smile and say “thank you,” knowing that I’m a decade closer to retirement than this nymph. Or I can start hanging out with the pre-1976 crowd and forever be the “young one.”