Kristina Beers: The importance of graceful aging

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer
I don’t spend much time in front of the mirror. I’m quite a feminine woman, but I just don’t dwell on myself too much. Of course, there are times when I go through three or four styles before I settle on what I want to wear or frustrate my husband when ‘I’ll be right out’ means more like I’ll show up 15 minutes later, but for the most part, I whisk past the mirror or perform perfunctory tasks on myself simply because it’s not a priority to me.

I recall how I once discovered, at dinner, that I was wearing two completely different earrings, one in each ear. My youngest asked why I had one dangly and one short earring. Only then did I recall putting each one in to decide which went better with my outfit that morning. Evidently, they both did.

As we were driving to town a few weeks ago, that same son had asked me a question, one I don’t recall, but the reaction I certainly can conjure up: “You’re THAT old!! I thought you were in your 30s!!” As I was listening to him going on and on about my elderly status, I recalled a conversation between myself and a girlfriend in a gradeschool lunchroom about our moms and their ages. That conversation being much similar, I realize all kids must go through stages where they ponder mortality in little bites.

That evening, while brushing my teeth, I glimpsed my forehead in the mirror and leaned in for a closer look. It was then I remembered why I don’t do that more often! Many years ago, I took a magazine aging test (like a dummy) and inspected every line and wrinkle on my face. That was a very depressing evening — and it was years ago when I really was in my 30s!

I suppose anyone can find faults if they look hard enough, so I stopped looking hard enough; I want to enjoy my life and accept who I am. On occasion, I can catch a glimpse in the mirror and startle as the reflection is at once my mom then morphs into my grandmother who stares back at me. I gaze at the looking glass in wonder and awe when that happens.

Recently, when we registered for another school year, my senior collected all his previous IDs and showed me his transformation from a gangly freshman to his current handsome status. It struck me how much he changed and yet had stayed the same. It amazes me, the aging process. I look back at our early pictures as young parents and almost can’t believe we are the same people, yet I feel no different.

So, on the heels of young sons’ incredulity (“I can’t believe you’re that old!”) my wrinkled forehead, and all the changes with our family, I was feeling a bit worn down and old. (Well, older.) And a tad grumpy. (Probably a lot grumpy.) That is, until my senior looked at me and said, “Mom, I think you need a hug.” While he was hugging me, he told me a joke I couldn’t resist and I ended up laughing.

He then said, “There it is, mom. Things just aren’t quite right until I see all those crinkles at the side of your eyes. When I see them, I know everything’s OK because that’s my mom and she’s smiling.”

Suddenly, those crinkles became shiny and perfect, the most important feature of me. Readying for bed that night, I took a moment to rejoice in each and every fold of my face. I am a mom who has crinkles, wrinkles, sags and bags, and every one of them is just right.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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