Saturday, June 21, 2008

On Growing up and Growing old

I've been contemplating the process of aging lately.

I always tend to compare what I looked like before having kids and now after having two babies. I don't know that my waist will ever be 27 inches again, but it really doesn't matter. I need to keep reminding myself that. I realized too what I think of and how I see the people I know and love. I don't think about how they looked when they were young and think that they looked better then (as I often do about myself). I look at them no matter where they are in their life and see their beauty where they are.

A young person isn't beautiful just because they are young. Our society might push that (as I've seen a LOT of adds on facebook to confirm that), and how often have you seen an older lady who looks like she's trying to look younger... and it looks weird. Not that dying your hair or wearing makeup is bad in anyway, but there is a certain style or something overdone that I think is noticeable. Why can't we try to look good at the stage that we are. Rather than thinking about how I used to look and making myself depressed or something, I know I should just try to look nice where I am. I don't need to look like I'm 18 again, but I can try to look nice as a young mother of two. I can eat healthfully and exercise and everything and as I grow older I should just be where I am. At each stage of our "growing up" we can look lovely if we embrace where we are. I know our culture might not agree, but they are wrong. I've seen so many beautiful older woman and men and they are always people who aren't trying to be anything but who they are. I saw a woman in Walmart the other day. She had white hair and it was very thin, but she'd styled it in a nice way and she just looked lovely. She had wrinkles yes and didn't have a body like a 16 year old, but why should she? She wasn't 16. She was probably closer to 70ish, but she was a beautifully aged woman!

That's how I want to be as I grow older, but even now I'm finding it difficult to accept where I am. Youssef does the same thing as I do (somewhat). We look at pictures of ourselves just 4 years ago before we were married and we think how young we looked! (I think it's the beauty sleep that you miss out on after having kids.) But when I look at Youssef now.. even though I can see a difference.. I don't think it's a bad difference. Why should growing up and looking older be negative? It really is as silly as saying that Lily was a pretty baby and isn't a pretty toddler. She just looks different. She's pretty now and she was pretty then. But she doesn't look like a baby anymore. I don't look like a teenager anymore. I look like a mother. That's not a bad thing. It's a lovely thing. Perhaps some of you who are reading this have thought the same about yourself? I'd like to encourage you! The people that really love you don't think that. They don't see the flaws that you see in yourself. They see the beautiful lovely you and the "flaws" that you see aren't even noticeable to them!

I remember when I was little and thought my Mom was the most beautiful woman in the world. I was quite confused and somewhat disappointed when she assured me that she wasn't. It didn't matter if other people thought that was true or not, even my Mom. I believed that she was, and really, that's all that mattered.

What should we be concerned with? Should we try to lose weight to be like we were in high school? Should we buy miracle cream to take away our wrinkles? Should we dress like we are a fashion plate from the 80's? (Sorry.. that last one is a pet peeve of mine when I see 30's-ish men dressing like "The New Kids On the Block") NO! We should be who we are and stop trying to be what we once were. I know I'd be happier if I didn't wish to look like I was 20 again. And really, why should I look like I'm 20? I'll be 30 in a few years. I want to be beautiful to my family and loved ones like my Mom and Grandmother (and so many other friends and relatives) have always been to me.

If you are 20 try to look your best, and if you are 50 try to look your best.. and know that you do! When I was a teenager I read a book that had a passage in it about how a girl looked so beautiful in that "awkward" in between stage of girl and woman. I was too close to that stage at the time myself to agree. But the other day I saw a girl in that exact awkward in between stage, and she really was absolutely lovely. Not in the worldly way that most people might be thinking. But in just a lovely innocent, awkward, slightly curvy, squeaky voiced, goofy, graceful, almost womanly, yet girlish way. Then recently I went to a free showing of the Nutcracker, and among all of the twiggy girls there was a girl that was noticeably more over weight then all the rest. It didn't mean that she wasn't as lovely though! She was wonderfully graceful (more graceful than a lot of the other girls.) She really was a delight to watch.

I'd like to keep these truths that I'm sharing with you in the front of my mind. It is too easy to become taken in by the lies of this world about beauty.

I'm not saying, by-the-way, that it's really the "inside that counts" ... it is of course in a way, but the line about how it's just your "inside that counts" implies that you aren't lovely on the outside and just have a "nice personality" but rather, what I mean is that, who you are in every way can make you beautiful in every way. A person, who they truly are, shines through their eyes and how they talk and walk and dress and everything about them! Our culture might say that an 18 year old looks more beautiful than an 80 year old.. or a thin person rather than a fat person.. a strong person rather than a wispy person... but who makes the rules? I've decided that I'm going to make those rules for myself. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." And beauty can be found in so many wonderful places if we know the truth.

So.. to come back to my thoughts. I don't now look like I did before having kids. But I shouldn't look at my no-longer 27 inch waist and see something ugly, but remember that I've become a mother and have two beautiful children and also in every part of life, every added wrinkle or "flaw" can be something beautiful if we are grateful for what we have and where we are. The wisdom we've gained and the joys and memories we've come through are what have made us who we are.

And I really wouldn't give up what I have now for all the personal trainers in the world. ;)

1 comment:

Youssef Sleiman said...

SOOOOOOO...

Is this something I should add to my belief that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."