Monday, March 12, 2007

In This Skin

woman to woman

Last night when I was throwing off the covers because, once again, I was too warm and couldn't sleep, or running down the hall every hour or so because I drank too much tea, I was thinking of what I had already written and what I would write on this subject. For me, menopause has lasted a lot longer than I think it should!

In this skin - this skin that is getting wrinkled, age-spotted, rather saggy, vericose-veined, jowled, lives a person who cannot believe she could possibly be as old as she is! Me! I know age is relative, and I am not old in the grand scheme of life, but to me, it is hard to comprehend that I am here already. It has come so quickly! The big 6-0 is approaching rapidly. I do not dread that number in particular. I just don't like some of the things that have been happening to this vessel in which I reside!

Since I have been thinking about this topic, I have wondered why it is that the idea of "aging" is only about getting old. We begin aging the moment we enter this world, or even before - we actually begin aging the moment we are conceived. If you're not aging, you are not alive. Why does the word have such a negative connotation?

My SIL, Morning Glory, asked me yesterday if I had written my post yet, and I said I hadn't, because I couldn't think of anything good to say! How sad! But since then, I've been doing a lot of thinking.

I've always heard older people (older than myself) say that they don't feel any older than they did when they were younger - they look in the mirror and can't believe that person looking out at them is that old. I am now at that point myself.

The strangest phenomenon for me is seeing an article in the paper about a celebrity, or a criminal, or just an average every-day person whose picture is shown. When they tell the age, and it's near mine, I almost always think, "I don't look that old, do I?" (Think Farrah Fawcett, even before cancer! But don't think Jacquelyn Smith - she looks WAY too good for our age).

My mom was only 18 when I was born. All of my adult life, I have compared where I am in life to where she was at the same age. Since my first child was born at 27, the age she had her 5th, it has been a very different scenario. Now the 18 years that separate us seem much less than they used to.

I remember one time when Kristen was a young girl she asked me why I didn't use Oil of Olay. The commercial was something like, "I'm not going to grow old gracefully, I'm going to fight it every step of the way!" I told her then that I was going to grow old gracefully.

I hope I am. Growing old gracefully. I don't want to be a crotchety Grandma. One of the reasons I changed my work schedule to be with the kiddoes every afternoon instead of two full days and one half day is that by 3:00 in the afternoon, I was finding myself extremely exhausted and not much fun. I don't want that to be what my grandkids think of when they think of me.

I am desperately fighting the weight thing that seems to come with changing metabolism. I seem to be losing (the battle, that is, NOT the weight). I can't seem to get a grip on it like I used to be able to. The gym membership is being taken from my credit card every month, but getting there is harder and harder. The change in my work schedule has had one unexpected down side - I don't have a lunch hour, so I am not as disciplined in preparing my lunch as I was when I was carrying it to work. I want so much to be slim again - but maybe the kiddoes wouldn't like my lap so much if it were boney - hmmm. Good thought!

Right now we seem to be in the sandwich generation - smack between the problems of our parents and our grown children. I used to say I felt like a piece of bologna, but I really don't like bologna, so I think I'll say I feel like a slice of turkey in between good wheat bread! No mustard, please. I know I'm not supposed to be so involved in the younger generation, and that's something I have to work on.

When I was teaching school years ago, I met a really neat lady in our church named Thelma. She was 72, and she actually became my best friend in that church. It was a very lonely time in my life, and she filled a void. I realized then that she was a very young 72, and I decided I wanted to be like that. 72 gets younger and younger every year!

One good thing that I really enjoy about being this age - discounts at Wendy's and Kohl's! The only thing better than getting an old people's discount would be if they'd card me for proof! They have not done so. Oh, well!

I don't have too much gray hair yet. What I do have is on top mostly, and I'm too tall for most people to see it - only my hairdresser knows for sure. When I looked at the pile of my hair on the floor after a recent trim, I realized it is definitely getting grayer! But I am far too lazy and far too cheap to color my hair, so it will gray gracefully! I wish it would be a beautiful white like Mom, but I doubt it will.

I want the lines on my face to be from laughing and smiling, not frowning and griping. That is my prayer today.

I love this scripture and hope it's true of me as I get more gray:

Proverbs 20:29 Youth may be admired for vigor, but gray hair gives prestige to old age. (The Message)

Check out more on this topic at


Randi said...

Lines from laughing and smiling--that is what i want too!

I like your post. Thank you for sharing!

Morning Glory said...

I knew you could do it!

Your thoughts are so candid and heartfelt. I think we all want to grow old gracefully. Recognizing the need to do that keeps me on track.

Thanks for being part of this!

Kristen said...

I think you have aged very well, Mom. I see other women your age all the time and hear how old they are and think "Wow. You're my mom's look a LOT older." So, from a daughter's perspective, I think you look great.

And despite all of the challenges you have faced the last decade or so!

And I think that those grand-kids are keeping you young....not making you grow old! How could they not?! And I assure you; you are not a crotchety old grandma. They wouldn't love you the way they do and want to be with you if you were!

Susie said...

It's so interesting to see the different ways that this subject is being addressed.
I loved this part "I don't have too much gray hair yet. What I do have is on top mostly, and I'm too tall for most people to see it - only my hairdresser knows for sure." When you have all gray like I do, the height doesn't help a bit!! LOL!
Great post!!

Linds said...

I loved reading this Dawn... and I agree with so much, especially the sandwich generation. Fitting it all in is the real problem, and still having time for yourself, don't you think? I stopped worrying about the extra pounds. I think all the wrinkles will get worse if I was skinny, and I do not want to be a bony old woman! Healthy and comfortable will do.

Lisa M. said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post.

I love it.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I am glad you posted because that was great! I was constantly alternating between laughing and nodding my head at your wisdom.

I, too, want to age gracefully and I also want "the lines on my face to be from laughing and smiling, not frowning and griping."

Have a happy day!

Tammy said...

why can't our hair turn white over night? I hate the the way...I'm just entering the doorway of this menopause thang...sigh!!

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

I love your thoughts my dear! I was with you running to the little girls room last night. Yep, I drank ONE extra glass of tea! LOL! And I understand the hot flashes! By the way I think you are gorgeous and a beautiful woman!

Dee Light said...

I so enjoyed reading your blog. I love hearing how different parts of our life fit together like pieces of a puzzle. I like the way you looked at things in life, and decided this is who i want to be or I don't want to be.

Belladonna said...

I continue to color my hair but secretly envy those who are comfortable with their grey. Maybe someday, but not yet!

I enjoyed reading your words.

Linda said...

Oh Dawn - after reading your great post and MG's I don't think there's much left to say. You did such a good job with this. I echo so many of your words. This aging thing is quite an adventure. I have yet to write my post. Like you - I really didn't think I had anything of worth to say. I hope I can to half the job you did!!
Thanks so much.

Lei said...

You said so many wonderful things, I don't know where to begin! I love the "sandwich generation" metaphor. That's avery real metaphow that I hadn't really even htought much about! And you are too funny about your discounts. I believe I will enjoy that aspect when it gets here as well! Lol! THis was beautiful: "I want the lines on my face to be from laughing and smiling, not frowning and griping. That is my prayer today."

Thank you for participating! I look forward to hearing from you again!

Lei said...

sorry for my typos... i am being tugged on :)

Tammy said...

This was so wonderful, Dawn. I could so relate...even though I'm only 44, I have lately been seeing myself seem to age a little faster. Sometimes, I'll be flat out depresses me. Inside, I'm still 25! I guess, I am not yet to the point of growing old gracefully, but fighting it! LOL But I do think balance is the key...being comfortable in your own skin as you grow in maturity, but still taking care of yourself. That's what I'm aiming for!

And you might remember my post on the Sandwich generation...I'm there, too, Dawn, but in a different way...looking out for an 80 yr old mother and being a mommy to a 4 and 7 yr old. Very strange! On the other hand, I do feel blessed to have them all in my life.
Sorry to ramble...but I loved how you wrote this...wonderful, honest post. And I agree...God looks at aging gracefully as a thing of honor!

Maine Mom said...

I'm enjoying these woman to woman posts! I have gray hair already and am wondering whether to dye my hair or let it go gray. I'm too cheap as well, so I would have to find a dye to do at home.

Lee said...

"I want the lines on my face to be from laughing and smiling, not frowning and griping. That is my prayer today."
I love that. And I want that too. And when I have days like today I worry it won't be the lines I want.

PEA said...

I often do like you when I see a picture of someone my age and wonder if I look that old!! How we see ourselves and how others see us can be so different! I so enjoyed reading your words...I'll be 50 this year and haven't started menopause yet so I know I have all that to "look forward" to! My mom was 48 when she started so I'm surprised I haven't yet...she says I might be one of those women who go through it without even knowing it! I wish! lol xoxo

Rhea said...

When you questioned aging you reminded me of a blog that examines questions like that all the time: Time Goes By.

Zoe said...

I thought that I had read your entry already. I was touched by a comment that you left on Lee's blog where you said that you had scars too but they were not physical. I hope that you have recovered from those injuries. :) :)

I love that you said you are the "sandwich generation". I am DEFINITELY going to pass that on to my mother, who sometimes feels like she didn't do anything right given the critisizm from both sides. But, I will say that she- and you- are more than a peice of bolonga! You both are premium steaks! :)

Zoe said...

Dawn, you really have been through a lot!! I can't believe the experiences you and your family have endured. I am definitely going to read more about Kristen and your story. You are a very very strong woman! It must be theraputic to write about it.

Barb said...

You and I are about the same age and you've captured all the feelings that go with this age. I agree with you about being surprised when I look in the mirror. For me, physically I'm reminded all the time that I'm getting older. Creaky knees. Backaches. Arthritic fingers. I used to have beautiful hands. Not so much any more.

But mentally, I feel like a 20 year old. It's very eye-opening, this aging thing. I don't fight my weight but menopause has been going on for a good ten years now.

Like you, I want to be a fun nana, one my granchildren love. That's hard when you're with them so much, they wear you down. It's a constant battle. But I'm working on it.

Praying for your Prodigal said...


You hit the nail on the head....on every level!

Turkey sandwich--that's rich! I prefer turkey to bologna anyday! Isn't that just the beauty of aging....we allow ourselves the possibility of taking charge of what we don't like! don't like bologna....take turkey! Don't like the weight thing--wear pants with elastic!!!! Don't like the them laugh lines! Don't like the exhaustion....schedule naps! i mean seriously, why complain,,,,,when you can change...if you can't change the problem, rename it!

This Woman to Woman is such a great new series. I told Kristen I am going to try to do this too....2nd and 4th Tuesday's...hmmm....I may need your help in remembering! In this woman's a fading memory!


SiouxSue said...

Man, Dawn, have you been reading my mail? :>) I could say YES to every observation you made today. Wow! I'm 5 years your senior, but still...I feel I'm in my early 30's...until I see my children, two of whom are, or will be this year, 40! I even do that thing about..."I don't look THAT old, do I?" Or "Can you guess whether so and so is older or younger than I?" Hope they will say older when I know I am older!!! Good blog post!

Grafted Branch said...

I loved that! I appreciate your honesty and transparency. You are a blessing.

And I often think the same way as I approach 39 and realize that *snap* next it will be 49 and *snap* 59 and so on...

In my head I think I was 19 until I had my first baby. I've been stuck at 27 ever since. Except for ON my head. I find more gray around my temples every month it seems (it's not the loveliest graying pattern).

groovyoldlady said...

This was a GREAT post. I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on aging and/or not aging. There is no shame in growing old!

Brenda said...

The closer I get to the next decade, the less I think of it as old. But the more independent my children become, the older I feel. Quite the conundrum, eh?

I wholeheartedly agree with you about the lines on our faces - may they be from smiling and laughing rather than frowning and griping.

Great thoughts, Dawn.