In the last couple of years, I noticed that the youthful skin I’ve always had has, well, decided to start bowing out. My face kind of said, “I have served you well these 30+ years, Amy, and I’m getting tired. Best wishes as you age.”
I began noticing the fine lines and creases. I saw a picture of my 20-year old self and was shocked at how much chub my face has lost, while my body seems to have picked up it’s slack. And oh, the sun spots. Why, oh why, didn’t we wear sunscreen as kids?!
Naturally, I went and signed up for some pricey new skin care regimen. Because I’m not going down without a fight, yo.
This morning, as I applied my makeup, a memory flashed across my mind. My grandmother was a strong, assertive, beautiful woman. She was a social belle, driven, and motivated for success, proud and mindful of her appearance. Alzheimer’s slowly stole every bit of the woman she prided herself to be.
Somewhere into her journey of aging, my grandmother began to paint the backs of her hands with foundation everyday, in order to hide the smattering of age spots that cropped up there. At this point, she was too ill to realize how obviously her efforts were failing, but in her deep-seated mindset, the orange streaks were preferable to having anyone see the weariness of her flesh.
So she kept fighting. The attempted application of her makeup (bless it) was one of the very last things she gave up as her mind continued to ebb away from the character she held so dear. The roots of our pride dig down so deep.
Recently I posted on Facebook the most precious, adorable picture of my parents together on their anniversary. Afterward, my mother sat in my kitchen, struggling to find adequate words to express her distaste for what has become of her appearance in the aging process.
So this morning, I started thinking about the body image issues we pass through the generations to our daughters. How even the vaguest comments we make leave an imprint in the ears that listen; oh the power of our words!
I also thought, ‘Score one for being a boy mom! I really lucked out!’ No worries about the emotional and psychological damage of daughters over here.
But in reality, I am demonstrating to my sons everyday, sometimes in the tiniest of ways, what they should expect from women. It’s more than the actual words I say, since I don’t often complain about my appearance out loud, especially to a couple of guys who only care about robots, snacks, and the iPad most of the time.
Whether it’s spending a little too much time fussing over myself in front of the mirror, or “sacrificially” ignoring my own self-care (some new verbiage I’m learning about and pondering), every image and interaction is information to be assimilated into their understanding of life.
Often when I start writing a post, it begins with a phrase or inkling of an idea and I have no idea where the post is going to end up. My thoughts aren’t so random after all. Because this post has brought me back to my daily failings as a mom and how I want to shape up and pull it together and be close to perfection for these boys. But I simply can’t. The spirit is willing but the flesh is so very weak, just like the elasticity of my face. From many dark corners, I cry out for grace upon grace, healing and protection of hearts, beauty from my own ashes, to the God Who Sees.