Birthdays are such a fabulous time for reflection…don't you think? I turned 36 two days ago (yes, I'm OK with typing that out loud) and I had a good, hard look in the mirror, something I don't really get much time for. I'm usually just doing a quick glance to make sure I don't have Weetbix glued to my cheek or snot on my shoulder before dashing out the door.
Yes, the reflection staring back at me isn't the young, line-free face it once was. My flat stomach has endured four expansions thanks to my cherubs so I'm kind of rocking the 3 months pregnant look. The teenage years I spent trying to get a tan has left me looking like a polka-dot person and goodness knows what other damage I've done. I could go on, but I won't because I don’t want to spoil the great mood I’m in. The point is, I'm not the young, nubile being I once was and on the outside, it's easy to pick flaw after flaw. But truth be told, I am not the same person I was 20 years ago and I'm very happy about that.
|Me. Flaws and all.|
My husband completely disagreed with me last night over a beautiful birthday dinner (sans kids!).He doesn't think I've changed markedly since I met him 13 year ago. "You're still Rachel", he remarked. Well, yes I am. Intrinsically, I'm still the same person. I still desperately try to please everyone. I over-apologise and over-thank. I have the thinnest skin of anyone I know and I don't deal well with rejection or criticism (all of my friends nodding at this point?). I love my family enthusiastically, but I can have a very short fuse sometimes. I can get down very quickly and up even quicker. My husband says I'm the softest, gentlest person he knows, but I disagree with that. I can get fiery when my children are involved and I love a bit too much sometimes. That’s kind-a me in a nutshell.
But the difference between the 16-year-old me and the 36-year-old me isn’t just twenty years. It’s that the older one knows what she wants from her life. I'm no longer the doormat I once was. I don't compromise my self-worth for any man (or woman), I will fight for things I believe in, I'm less scared of life, more realistic than idealistic, and best of all, full of hope. I'm less jealous of other people who are successful and I realise I need to work my bottom off to get what I want. I’m OK with sharing my mistakes with perfectly lovely strangers and I will take risks in doing so.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think I have all of the answers. I certainly do not. I make mistakes every single cotton-picking day and I will make more, but it feels like I’m heading in the right direction (for the moment at least).
I went to the Dermatologist a couple of weeks ago. I have some very ugly, pesky spider veins on my thighs that my GP told me to go and get sorted (he is very forward). After this stunningly beautiful Doctor explained the procedure to me, she proceeded to talk about ‘other things’ I may like to consider. She’s trying to upsize my order! She mentioned IPL and then asked if I’d ever considered Botox. I started in surprise. No, I haven’t. “It’s a very simple procedure and can really help stop fine lines becoming more pronounced,” she said. “Um, I’ll think about it,” I mumbled before stumbling out in shock to pay the bill. Really? Is that what happens now when you reach a certain age. The Botox recommendations come a-knocking?
I’ve got friends with brand new boobs and other friends considering them. Another friend declared at dinner the other night that at 42 years of age, she had officially lost her looks. I disagreed. I thought she was beautiful. We all have the tendency to be much, much too hard on ourselves. Perhaps the years we’ve spent flicking through glossy mags glaring at photo after photo of air-brushed celebrities has messed with our heads? Perhaps the media’s sub-text that young and taut is the pinnacle of society has done the damage? I would never judge anyone for choosing to have plastic surgery and I will support my friends if that’s the path they decide to take. But I do want them to know that they are already perfect, just the way they are. Some days I’m proud to wear my age (and my reproductive past) like a badge of honour, some days I don’t and vow to start dealing with the issue. But so far, I haven’t resorted to that.
So where does that leave me? Well, my son doesn’t want me to wear my lovely sky-high wedges to the playground. I just fall over on my way over to rescue him from the top of the slide and look like an idiot. I love my white jeans, but my kids have proved over and over again that white and vegemite/chocolate/snot/ice-cream do not mix. So as much as I want to look like the best version of myself all the time, sometimes I have to make compromises and realise my children actually don’t care less and I sometimes I shouldn’t either.
I guess the point of all of this is that we are women firstly and mummies secondly, so self-pride and presentation will always be important for me, but the people I admire the most hold themselves with dignity, laugh a lot (who cares about the bloody laughter lines), give with their heart, are honest and forgiving at the same time and love you and fully accept you the way you are (neurotic tendencies and all).
So yes, when I look in the mirror, there are things that I’m not thrilled with. But I can see the determination in my eyes and I can feel the strength I have in my bones and I know that my reflection is neither the beginning nor the end of me. And that is the most amazing personal transformation I’ve ever experienced.