Wiser? Or Just Plain Old?

It felt like it happened over night. I stood there staring into the mirror and there they were staring back at me. Wrinkles. Oh, they are small and some might call them “character lines” but no matter what flowery language you use they are still wrinkles and they are on MY forehead.  I’m 39 and 40 is the next block over.  Things are different as I look down the barrel of this milestone and not in the ways I expected.

From the moment David and I met I have always taken great pride in the fact that I’m not a jealous person.  I have entertained and fed more than one of David’s ex-girlfriends.  I have watched him attend bachelor parties, happy hours, and other events without me and have never thought twice about it.  He has spent days at photo shoots with professional models, and his office is frequently filled with beautiful single women.  It has never once bothered me.  Why? Well, I’m pretty secure with myself and in my relationship. I figure if David was really bent on straying nothing I could ever say or do would stop him.  And yet, without warning, things are starting to change.

Before you think that somehow my marriage has hit rocky ground it has not.  David and I are as solid and in love as ever.  What has changed, is me, and it has a great deal more to do with those suspicious wrinkles on my forehead than I’d like to admit.  It all fell into place when I read this recent article by Mommy Track’d. I am more jealous of the women my husband works with and the time he spends away from the house. Why? Because I’m no longer the young, 20-something, career minded, sexy, independent super girl I was when we met.  No, my body now wears the scars of two children and four pregnancies. I have stretch marks, and cellulite, and wrinkles. The circles around my eyes, that used to be easily gotten rid of with some ice cubes and good eye cream, no longer vanish over night – or sometimes at all. That high-power, high-paying career that I had forged for myself is now a victim on the sidelines of my life.  I can no longer compete with the women that my husband interacts with on a daily basis and at 39 I’m all too aware of it.

David assures me that those things are no longer important to him.  He laughs and scowls when I bring it up telling me that in place of those things I have provided him with a home, children, a foundation for him to build his life. That we always have been and always will be soul-mates fatefully locked together.  I know he is telling me the truth. I know he means all the words coming from his mouth.  But I can’t help but miss that 20-something young super girl and wonder if sometimes he misses her too? I’m not mourning the loss of my younger body (because lets face it, it was never GREAT), but I miss the confidence that the younger me had. I miss the seemingly bottomless pit of belief and passion I felt within myself.

Perhaps that is what getting older and wiser is all about.  You lose your unshakable confidence because you more honestly recognize your faults and misgivings.  You no longer need the shield of false bravado to get through life but instead gain the greater strength of seeing yourself more nakedly than you ever have before.  And this honesty, this unfiltered vision, brings with it fear of who you REALLY are not who you were trying to pretend to be the first 30 years.  And just perhaps that is true wisdom.

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4 thoughts on “Wiser? Or Just Plain Old?”

  1. That was very well said Beth. Every woman goes through it at some point in their lives and we try to deal with it the best we can.

  2. From my mother (she doesn’t like to actually comment herself, she just emails me her comments). However, this was good.

    As an older and much wiser woman I can tell you that aging is in many cases not as bad as it seems. Yes you do begin to show age at 40ish, but you gain so much more and the gains most assuredly outweigh the losses. To begin with, at your age you have some history behind you and that history includes experience and even some wisdom that only time can bring. Would you trade even one of those tiny wrinkles for going back to the naive
    inexperienced and insecure person you were in your teens or twenties? Probably not.

    Additionally even if you don’t believe me, this truly is the best time in your life. And this will remain the best time of your life for the next 20 years. You are mature, healthy, experienced and probably making more money than you ever have before. You are at the top of your career and in the prime of child rearing. Your life is full, busy and you know your strengths and your weaknesses. Knowing who you are is a big point and it’s taken many years to get here. Do you remember the years when you didn’t know who you were, what you were capable of, and what you were going to do with yourself? Well now you know and it’s not only an important thing, but it is also a nice place to be in life. You are at the peak of life’s adventures. You have purpose and there are many who rely on you and many who need you. You impact the world the most at this time in your life, and are smack dab in the middle of leaving your life footprint. It truly does not get any better than this.

    Watching your body begin the aging process does not mean much as long as you are healthy , have no pain or illness and retain your strength and spirit for life. Trying to sustain your looks is a losing battle and eventually everyone looses that battle. The good news is that everyone you know is in the same boat with you, and there is some comfort in that.

    Take heart dear daughter, and enjoy this moment in your life.

    Love, Mom

  3. Your mom is a very wise woman. I thought she was beautiful the first time I saw her and I have never changed my opinion. True she shows some wear and tear, her hair is white, and she doesn’t move as quickly as she once did, but I can tell you she is still very pretty. Yes — she can’t compete with some 20ish cupcake, but then she has so much more to offer. She has humor, intelligence, vast conversational possibilities, shared experiences, and she is still the most interesting person I have ever met. More importantly she loves me. I too look in the mirror and wonder what happened to that kid I used to see there and I am amazed that she still loves me when she could always do so much better.

    Everythng your mother wrote is absolutely true. You and David are at the prime of life. You are actually having a great time but you are probably so busy you don’t have time to really enjoy it, but I guarantee that you will look back on this time as see it as the best of times. Don’t worry about the lines and the wear and tear they mean nothing and David will always see you as he did in the beginning — I know that from experience.

    Love, Dad

  4. Great post, Beth – and I think you should post your Mom and Dad’s replies as a follow-up – they have some wonderful insights that everyone in a marriage should read and remember again, and again (especially as the 20ish male and female cupcakes raise their beautiful and inevitable heads!). Great insights all around.

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