By Johanne R. Deschamps
Ah, summer has finally arrived! Time to break out the shorts, skirts and spaghetti straps. “I must remember to make my waxing appointment” I think to myself, as I picture my legs nicely tanned and sporting the latest sandals. My euphoria is soon interrupted by a group of men walking past me. “Wait! something’s not right.” I suddenly realize that they didn’t turn to take a second look. As a matter of fact, they barely took a first look. I’m a little insulted but I’m not about to let that ruin my day. Denial is a great survival technique. Five minutes later, as I pass a group of construction workers, I hear whistles and catcalls. I turn around to catch a glimpse of their appreciation, only to realize that they are hooting and hollering at the teen girl walking twenty feet behind me. “Wow! that’s weird. She’s not even very pretty. What’s the big attraction?” I do the typical woman thing and look her over, wondering, “What’s she got that I haven’t got?” Suddenly, as if being struck by a fly ball, it hit me! It’s something that I don’t have, something that I can never get back – Youth!
I suddenly felt old. For the first time ever, I felt really old. I walked the rest of the way home, mourning the loss of my my je ne sais quoi. All the while trying to tell myself that I was just being silly. As soon as I fell in the front door, I dropped my bags and ran for the nearest mirror. I stood in the bathroom, looking at my face. I pressed my hands against both cheeks and pulled slightly toward the back of my ears just to see how loose my skin was. Surely, this couldn’t be happening. Not already! But it was. They weren’t exactly jowls but there was a sagging of my facial skin that I had never noticed before. The laugh lines, at the corners of my lovely brown eyes, looked a bit deeper that they had previously and could now be described as crow’s feet. Now, to the full-length mirror in the bedroom to take a look at the whole picture. My previously perky breasts, now seem like a couple of sad sacks. Not the worst I’ve seen but they’ve definitely had some wear and tear. At 45 years old and 3 children later, my tummy looks like a well-worn road map of the middle east. For the first time in my life, I’m noticing cellulite on the backs of my thighs, and my once tight, little boy butt seems to have been inflated width-wise to twice its previous dimensions. Not bad, but not as jaunty as it once was. “It’s just not fair.” I say to myself, remembering how I used to look and the cat calls that I used to attract.
My mind drifts back to the vague memories of my youth. Easily amused and even more easily impressed, I was painfully shy but longing for love. My blonde silky hair blowing in the wind like a scene from a movie.
The door slams shut as I snap back to reality. My teenage children have returned home from school and work. Our two dogs and four cats are congregating at the front door to greet them. This is soon followed by the arrival of my husband. The house is bustling with activity and everyone sharing their news of the day. As I am preparing dinner, their voices fade into the background. I realize how lucky I am. I remember my three beautiful children, the reason for my battle scars. I remember the many years we have all shared together. I know that I am and will be loved whether I am 19 or 99.
There is something about maturity and being comfortable in my own skin, that is very reassuring. Not caring about anyone’s judgment of me, what people think of my clothes or my hair brings a feeling of freedom and security. I’ve had plenty of time to get used to all of my personality quirks and the small imperfections of my body. I accept them and love myself unconditionally. Those young girls can have their day in the sun. They’ll have to wait at least a couple decades before they’ll have what I’ve got.
Previously posted on changesinlife.com | Painting Vanity by John William Waterhouse, 1849-1917.
A native of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Johanne R. Deschamps is a full time writer. Johanne writes poetry, articles and books that inspire and give understanding to readers through her own personal experience. She has been published in Survivor Today Magazine, Changesinlife.com, The Voices Project.org and Silver Sage Magazine. She is also the author of How to Write a Book in a Week and co-author of Gestalt Poetry.