Yesterday, I crossed the line from being 44 to being 45.
In my family, you don't just have a birthday, you have a birth WEEK. The various celebrations usually start a few days before the big day, and continue until everyone has celebrated in one form or another. This year, my birthday started on Friday with a lovely date with Darling Man and will end next Friday with lunch and my best friend.
In honor of the occasion, I went shopping and bought a pretty green top and a pretty blue one. When it came time to dress, Z-boy said, "Wear the green, Mommy - it looks so pretty!" so I did. I'm still learning my new hair, so I did the best I could with it, put on makeup and jewelry (unheard of) and my new fancy sandals. When my husband got dressed, Z-boy coordinated us, unbeknownst to us at the time. I thought we looked pretty good, and asked Z to take a picture of us before we left.
The rather pissed look on my face is real. Z-boy kept goofing around with the camera and I finally had to yell at him to knock it off and take the picture already.
We went to Nino's, which we haven't been to in years - before we were married, in fact. We had a truly international dinner. Starting with French wine, white Russians, American house salad, German weiner schnitzel-spatzle-and-red cabbage, and Italian tiramisu for dessert. I suppose we could have had Greek salad to make it a totally ethnic meal... It was absolutely wonderful. I am a cheap date, however, and the two drinks I had made me forget my camera when we left.
I went back to get it the next day, and finally got around to looking at the picture that Z-boy took. And was HORRIFIED. Who was that woman wearing my clothes and standing next to my man????
When I got home, I went and stared at the mirror for a long time. I can tell you that I didn't like that other woman, not one bit. She looked... old. And tired. Her face was simultaneously puffed up and sliding down. And those chins! How many were there? At least I didn't run out of fingers. And that explains why my mother felt compelled to tell me about this wonderful tai chi exercise that tightens up your jowls... because I have some now. And they'll be worse when I lose weight. I cried (yeah, that improved things...).
I used to be so cute. I didn't think so at the time, but when I look back at pictures, I realize that I was.
This is me before I married my first husband. I was 20 and borderline anorexic. I am always shocked at how thin I was in this series of pictures. This one doesn't show it, but you could have cut cheese on my collar bones.
Then there was the me that dated an alcoholic...
Which at first glance looks like it led to nefarious activity and subsequent arrests, but that's just how it LOOKS - that second picture was actually an identification for a "glamour shot". Man they use a lot of makeup!!!
But then I hooked up with Darling Man and we did really cool things - like rock climbing. We were also hammer-head bike riders. He still is, but I'm not. Being pregnant upset my sense of balance and I haven't been a serious biker since then.
We got married and settled down into domestic bliss - which included the birth of Z-boy on our 4th anniversary. But domestic bliss is also more sedentary bliss, and as the years went by, the pounds piled on.
Until we get to that woman in the mirror.
I love her and I hate her.
Hate her because she's old. She's fat. She's sick. She worries too much. She moves too little. She likes sugar and fat and hates fiber. She can't find clothes she likes or shoes that fit. She's pissed.
Love her because somewhere under all that is me. The real me. The young-thinking me. The kick-your-ass KenPo me. The smart and creative me. The me that WANTS to have her picture taken. The healthy and fit me. The me I want to be into my 50's and beyond.
My son says that my love is what makes me beautiful. I need to love myself. Actually take the time to take care of me. It's hard to do when there are so many other demands on my time, but I will do it. It's time. Because if I don't make the time now, there may not be time in the future.
The Other Woman. I hope she reflects the true me on my next birthday.