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Growing up

My oldest daughter was talking about hanging out with a particular friend today and mentioned in passing that the friend is going to be 17 soon. For a moment, I thought that was completely uncalled for. Young children and unrelated teenagers shouldn’t be hanging out unless they’re being babysat. Then the split second passed and I remembered that my little girl is going to be 15 in less than a month.

It’s hard for me to fathom that she’s essentially 15 when I still forget sometimes that I’m no longer 16. When I look in the mirror, sometimes I’m shocked at the woman looking back at me. Most times, I try not to look. It’s not a lack of confidence in my looks. Granted, I know I’m no beauty queen, but it’s not that at all. When I look at my reflection, I see my mother. When I see my actual mother, I see my grandmother in her.

Where has my life gone? 32 1/2 years, just poof – gone! I don’t feel particularly unsuccessful, although up until just a couple of years ago, I definitely did. I have a wonderful family, a great husband, a nice home, and I’m mostly happy. There’s always room for improvement but I have exactly what I started out wanting in life. My calling in life was to be a mama. I’m that.

Of course all of this is compounded by the fact that I found my first gray hair the other day. It couldn’t be on my head, either. Oh no. It’s in my eyebrow. It couldn’t even be a tame gray hair. No, it had to be wirey. I was putting on mascara so my face was right up close to the mirror and I see this shiny thing (I have pretty dark hair outside of that one strand) staring back at me, taunting me, wagging at me. “Hey, old bag! Look who’s here. I’m here to make you feel ancient and wonder if you’re hitting your mid-life crisis. Ha! Ha!” Fucker.

I cut it with a pair of scissors, then promptly complained to my husband who laughed at me because he felt the need to get back at me for letting him walk around with a loudmouthed wirey gray hair in his nose for a month. (I don’t know how he missed the thing. Seriously. It practically made a mustache all my itself.)

So I lay in bed thinking on the eve of being taunted by “the” hair, and one thought leads to another. I went from gray hair to dying. No, I don’t think I”m dying right now, but the last 32 years flew by so why won’t the next? I have a feeling they’ll go even faster.

There’s a line in the movie Bridges Of Madison County that has always stuck in my head, from the first time I saw the movie at 19 years old.

Robert, please. You don’t understand, no-one does. When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you’re expected move again only you don’t remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself. You never in your life think that love like this can happen to you. 

I have no intentions of shacking up with a National Geographic photographer for four days while my family goes off to the Iowa State Fair. We don’t even live in Iowa. My point is that having kids sort of snatches your life away, as well as giving it to you. I can’t imagine my life any other way but at the same time, the idea of an empty nest absolutely depresses me, not so much because they’ll be gone but because what I am will be gone with them.

Mid-life crisis? Maybe. I can’t say that’s completely it, since that line from that movie touched me 13 years ago. I can say that “the” hair is making me question everything. Stupid hair.


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