I was standing in front of the mirror the other day, gazing at what used to be two gorgeous arrays of copper and bronze. They had grooves in them now, my legs, outlined by thin blue lines, and they were beginning to look more traveled than the pants that Christopher Columbus was buried in.
Is it the lighting? … Perhaps if I stand over here? *Sigh* Oh, to hell with it. I’ll just wear my fat pants.
Reaching for the drawer where I kept my unmentionables, I felt a tiny poke in an area that is primarily poke-free. *Giggles* “Look at your squishy butt, Mommy! It’s so … JIGGLY!“
Jiggly? Yeah, just you wait. You’ll be lucky if you look this good when you’re MY age!
As she scurried off to share the exciting news with her father, I stood in front of the mirror, humiliated and defeated, and burst into tears. She was right; it was jiggly, like fucking JELLO taped to a tree.
What happened to me?
I used to be able to look into the mirror without getting nauseous. I wore two-piece bathing suits for Christ’s sake, and now I’m wearing knee-length swim dresses and desperation like it’s going out of style. How is that even possible?
The good news is that I’m not alone: A lot of women these days are wearing swim dresses. And if you’ve ever had to chase after a screaming toddler down a hot and sandy shoreline, dodging surfers, hecklers, and your own reflection in a concession stand window, you understand why.
When you are young, you never think you’ll end up like your mother. Instead, you ignore her opinions about boys, roll your eyes when she tells you not to drink and laugh at her amateur career as a promoter for all things anti-aging while smoking unfiltered cigarettes and doing shots of tequila with a group of random strangers.
And then you have kids.
I was forty-years-old when my daughter was born —forty. Imagine aging twenty years in one night while you still had one foot on the dance floor. I went to bed excited about being a new mom and woke up looking like Blanche Devereaux.
There were gray hairs in places that no one warned me about, like my eyebrows and down in the cellar. And my nose was beginning to shrill like bagpipes whenever I sneezed. By the time my daughter was five, I had plucked so many wiry bristles out of the side of my head that my part looked like an Olympic luge.
“I told you they were going to grow back,” mocked my best friend turned stylist. “You should’ve listened!”
And there it was. My problem: I don’t listen.
My mother gave me a lot of sound advice growing up, which I can honestly say I ignored until my mid-thirties. She warned about sun damage and how it would one day turn my skin into a cheap leather wallet. She recommended not making an ass out of myself by suggesting I drink water whenever exposed to an open bar. And she frequently shared her feelings on karma, often beaming over the fact that one day I would have a daughter of my own who would pull that sh*t on me.
But I ignored her gratuitous counsel, filing it away under never gonna happen, and shoved it in a special box that I can no longer find.
My daughter will be eight-years-old this summer. Most of the time, she is thoughtful and sweet: “A model student!” as quoted by her teacher, and she knows how to make me feel special…
Like the time I was sick and heard her yell, “MAIL CALL!” to alert me to the fact that there’s been a delivery.
But where there is light, there is darkness, so it should come as no surprise that her favorite pastimes would include sticking her head in the shower to heckle me while poking my butt with amusement and snide remarks; advising friends and loved ones of the similarities between my nipples and a delightful bucket of red raspberries; and divulging my age to cashiers, waiters and the guy behind the meat counter whenever the opportunity presents itself.
But do you know what blows my mind more than the reality that all of her findings are true? The fact that every time she plants another kiss on the side of my cheek followed by a giggling whisper to acknowledge my bountiful defects, I am reminded of how much I love her.
Oh, who the hell am I kidding? One day this shit is going to come back to bite her — HARD — right on that jiggly butt of hers, and I plan on being there to poke it with my shriveled up, aging finger as I laugh and gawk at its tearful demise. Because THAT is what keeps this circle of life moving: criticism and blatant mockery.
My body may no longer be resilient to hormones, fermenting skin cells, or the ups and downs of parenthood, but at least I still have my
health sense of humor. And if there were only one lesson that I could prepare my daughter for in this crazy ass thing called life, it would be the ability to laugh at that which you cannot control.
Because without a sense of humor and some good old-fashioned common sense, you’ll end up being just another dried up sea sponge, looking for a reason to drink.