Sometimes I look at Tucker’s gorgeous, smooth, wrinkle-free baby skin and I want to rent a time-travel machine and visit my teenage self. I’ll slap the hell out of then-me for going to the tanning salon, for sunbathing using baby oil, and for skiing without sunscreen. And then I’d slap then-me again for continuing to do so year after year. I wonder if my skin would look more like his, now, had I done a more diligent job of protecting it. I’ll never know. (Wear sunscreen!)
The thing about aging is that we never really feel that differently on the inside. Sure, we have more knowledge and experience and confidence, better jobs, better houses and better shoes, but overall, I don’t really feel that the basic essence of now-me is much different from what it was at 16, 22, 30 and so on. Sometimes the reminders of age catch me off guard. I’ll pause at an accidental reflection of my face in the car window and think “Oh. When did those lines on my forehead become so noticeable? Have I always had such big bags under my eyes? Can it be possible that I’ve had the same persistent and recurring cheek pimple for almost four years?” And to the cheek pimple, yes, it is possible. I’m living proof.
I suppose that one of the best things and worst things about aging is that getting older is relative. We will always feel older. We will never feel younger. And yet it’s hard to imagine that we felt old at younger ages. Because, well, we were so young. Then.
The night before my sixth birthday, I remember standing on my front porch contemplating the end of my little kid days. At the time, the distinction between being five and being six and being in kindergarten versus being in first grade was significant. I knew that things were about to change. And I suppose they did…although I suspect that it did not happen overnight as I had been convinced it would. Another memory. I was actually depressed about turning 30. It seems silly now but I was worried that I should have accomplished more by then and that I should have felt more like a grown-up. Which makes me wonder when any of us really feel grown up. In some ways, we never will. Because let’s face it. We all remain somebody’s baby forever. Even when our parents are gone, we remain their baby.
Which brings me to this. Although I may accidentally catch an unflattering image in the car window, and regret my age-accelerating habits from younger ages, Tucker doesn’t see my wrinkles, my age spots freckles, or notice whether I’m in the best or the worst shape of my life. When Tucker looks at me, he is happy and excited to see me (well, unless I’m holding the nail clippers or medicine or his toothbrush, but he’s not really seeing ME then, he’s seeing the item of his torture).
I’m not sure at what age children become embarrassed by their parents, and I honestly can’t remember whether I was consistently embarrassed by mine or not. It doesn’t feel like I was now, which is perhaps more important anyway.
I suppose my point is that although every single time (which is about every day) that I look at myself in my car window, or mirror, or store reflection, the “me” that I see is not the mommy that Tucker sees. So I’ve decided to not worry about the fact that he may be embarrassed about me being older than his friends’ mothers at whatever date that happens. I’ve decided that I will do what I’m supposed to do and cherish the fact that he doesn’t even notice my recent highlights and lowlights, and regardless of either, he sees me. The me that he’ll remember forever, with or without the wrinkles that I see. He’ll just know mommy.