10 Mar The old grey mare, She ain’t what she used to be
Ima start this out by saying that I know some FOXY moms. Some women who are drop dead gorgeous and their momming makes them that much more beautiful. Moms are beautiful. And a body is something that is beautiful because it’s functional and it does its job and that’s what’s beautiful about bodies. And mom bodies especially are doing lots of jobs all of the time.
But this here’s going to be a big fat self-deprecating blob of blah. You know me. I gotta air it out. It’s funnier when you say something out loud to yourself and realize that it’s ridiculous. In my head it makes sense; it goes in circles and pokes at me. Then I say it in front of someone and it’s funny.
Like when I’m cooking for a party and I say out loud what’s been on a loop in my brain, “Everyone is going to be SO impressed. They’re going to say WOW that’s VEGAN? You MADE it? What CAN’T you do? You’re AMAZING! What an AMAZING HUMAN BEING YOU ARE!” It’s goddamn funny is what it is. Because it’s so absolutely absurd. Just make the dang casserole. It’s not the single most wonderful thing anyone has ever done ever. Just cook it and stop congratulating yourself.
So, disclaimer: Everyone struggles with body image and is entitled to their feelings. These are mine. This isn’t any kind of a thing to say about anyone else’s body. I don’t want to compare bodies. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad. I just want to complain about my feelings within the silo of comparing my own past self and present self. Also supermodels.
I made the mistake of looking at my butt in the mirror the other day with my glasses on. What was I thinking? I don’t exercise. My butt is very useful in that I sit upon it all day every day at work. It’s nice and squishy. But it doesn’t look like a supermodel’s butt. It’s got a touch of elephant going on. And I KNOW there are worse butts in the world. I shouldn’t complain. But anyway, it was a mistake.
One of my many big life moments lately has to do with getting older and missing the days of yore. The days when I was hanging out with friends all the time, laughing, quipping, drinking. The days when Cory and I would just leave the house when we felt like it. The days when I felt pretty, or at least in retrospect, now I realize I was younger and more fit (even though I didn’t exercise then) and maybe was prettier. The days when I didn’t know what my 34-year-old butt looked like in the mirror.
So anyhoo. I’ve been feeling old and saggy and kind of gross. There are all these stupid articles on Facebook about how Buffy the Vampire Slayer is 20 years old now and Titanic is 20 years old and Wayne’s World is turning 25 this year. It doesn’t HELP.
Another thing that doesn’t help is this: “You’ve noted that while society’s happy for a famous man to age, and become distinguished, and generally wander around looking like a fucking wizard, the women generally still seem to be 20 years younger, and standing there on the cover of magazines, all like, “Oh! My clothes… they fell off!” EVEN IF IT’S DAME JUDI DENCH.” — This awesome article by Caitlin Moran
“They try to look young, but then they end up looking like a purse that melted in a car accident.”
ANOTHER thing that doesn’t help is a bartender who is shocked at your age when he cards you, and who says, “WOW! You look really good for your age!” Thanks… I think? My age? It’s a compliment, so I’ll take it, but, well, come on.
It’s the oldest I’ve ever been before! So of course I’m going to feel old. I’ve been feeling old since I was like 10. Every age I am, I’ve never been older than that. And people dying. It seems like lots of people I know are dying. So I feel old. And sad.
And this is the kind of thing that should probably hit me at birthdaytime but 34 didn’t seem like anything special. This birthday was the least exciting birthday I’ve had in a long while. So it didn’t hit me. Not until this moment of moving out of my parents’ house that made me feel like I’m more on my own than I was a month ago. Like I’m the wrinkly-butted grownup who has their own complete set of life’s archives on hand.
In going through the boxes, I found this old audit I had done of myself as a teenager. A list of physical “problems” like a big nose, small boobs and acne. That accompanied a list of “solutions” like cosmetic surgery and chemical peels. It was depressing. It makes me angry about society and teen fashion magazines and life. Eff this patriarchal BS. Bodies do their job, breathing and digesting and stuff. They’re not the sole measure of who we are as a person. If your body works, love it.
I work on that with Henry, sometimes. I’ll stand him in front of the mirror and say, “Look at that wonderful body you have! It does everything that it needs to do. Why don’t you tell me what you love about your body?” He says, “Well, I like my penis!”
But that audit also stirred something up. And I started to do one of current Kate. I’ve got the butt, and the skin on my face doesn’t feel right when I wash it, like it’s leathery and dry, and my toenails were clipped but otherwise forlorn and lazy leg shaving and all these things that I used to keep up on gone to pot, my cuticles are a mess, Danny’s got no love for lefty when it comes to nursing and it shows, and don’t even get me started on the ravages of birth on ye olde pelvic floor and whatnot. Let’s just say the old grey mare just ain’t what she used to be.
“I’m not a woman any more. I’m a mom.”
So I’m not considering plastic surgery (though out of curiosity, I did look up a place in Saratoga that does that and flipped through all of the before and after pictures before concluding that it was gross and awful and everyone should love the way they’re made) but I did paint my toenails. And that felt nice. And I did a less lazy leg shave and plucked a couple eyebrows and maybe I’ll go and buy a bra that isn’t a knockoff Coobie or 15 years old. I painted my fingernails last night. I’m wearing makeup on a more regular basis and taking more posed selfies than I have in a long while because I’m realizing that it’s not getting any better from here.
Part of the letting myself go had been a protest against social norms. I have a few friends who don’t shave their legs and I think it’s awesome. I am inspired by them. I spent a few months on and off going makeup free and that felt good (that is, after people stopped asking me if I was okay, and why I looked so tired). I appreciate everyone doing what feels good to them. I guess those teen magazines have a pretty deep hook in me, though. I do feel better, right now, anyway, dolling up a little.
So I’m trying to move into this era of 34 and being comfortable with it.
I think self-care helps, in whatever form, whether that’s dressing up or down. For me, this week, it means dressing up. Feeling confident and pretty and sexy and cool. In the not-so-distant past, it’s meant dressing comfortably (thank heavens for LuLaRoe) and skipping makeup to feel less full of chemicals and social expectations.
Anyway, that’s where I am right now. And I’m writing about it so that other women, other moms, can maybe read it and say, oh yeah. Maybe I’ll quit shaving my legs and I’ll feel better about life. Or conversely, maybe I’ll spend the extra five minutes in the shower on myself and do a less lazy shave and I’ll feel better about life. It’s funny how much that stupid little stuff helps.
Until, and not like I’m saying this happened yesterday or anything, you’re yelling at your kid for smacking everything in your bedroom with a stick (WHERE DID THE $%!*& STICK EVEN COME FROM!) and walk directly into the side of your bedroom door and break your toe. That’s not a thing that makes you feel put together and awesome, gimping all over downtown with a broken toe. But you know what? I painted my toenails before all that happened and I didn’t feel AS embarrassed at the doctor’s office! And okay, that did happen yesterday.
In conclusion, a word of advice: Don’t look at your butt in the mirror. At least not with glasses on.