I turned 54 this week. I’ve had a lovely time of it, but there’s no avoiding the fact in the last year or so, my body has taken one of those turns. “Suddenly,” the wrinkles and the grey have reached critical mass, and I look different, at least to myself.
I really am an older mother.
My hair, once an interesting bronzy-silver, is now a decidedly silvery-bronze. Let’s not discuss the eyelids. When I smile, little rays burst out the sides of my eyes. It’s cool, but man, do I look my age. My skin is getting softer, like my grandmother’s, whose skin in her 70s ended up powder soft and covered with wonderful little patchwork crinkles all over her face and arms.
But this is not really about complaining (Ok, it is a little bit…). This is about absorbing how I really do look like an older mother now. I was probably deluding myself, but when the kids were born, I felt my age wasn’t totally clear. I didn’t hide it, but it was nice to surprise people.
As my girls go through their teens, my hair will probably stay grey, by my choice, unless I do something silly like dye it purple. In their ascendance, I will be manifesting the signs of (happy and healthy, I hope) decline. I will not be as agile, alert, fashionable and fun as younger moms. I’ve known it all along, but looking at those digits — 5 4 – it feels more real, right there with the clarity of a cliff edge in open sun.
By the time both girls are out of college, I’ll be in my mid-60s. B arrived by adoption when I was 42, and L was an unexpected bonus whom I gave birth to when I was 43. I comforted myself at the time with the idea that they would be old enough to be on their own when I started really declining into old age.
Now that I’m halfway through this ride, that really doesn’t seem good enough. I want more — more youth, agility, clarity and health. Who knows what the future holds, but this is what later birthdays tend to make me think about. That and gym memberships.