Last Thursday marked my youngest child’s 15th birthday. Her birthday party on Saturday had an uncomfortably close ratio of boys to girls, and those boys were absolutely adorable. The “let me pinch your cherub cheeks!” type of adorable has now been replaced with the “starting to look like young men” adorable. Complete with dimples and developing muscles. Upon entering the party, one of the boys had not been introduced, and when I jokingly reprimanded my daughter for not introducing him, he reminded me had been to my house “at least five times, Mrs. Baker”. Puberty changed sweet little rounded Arturo into a strapping young teenager with facial stubble and a young man’s voice. Sniffle. I can see why my daughter has crushed on him since 5th grade. He was precious when he was a chubby (and smooth) cheeked, be-spectacled little guy. Now those same glasses give him a grown-up and slightly edgier look. I can’t explain it- but I don’t much like it. Especially if Taylor winds up taking after me. Muscles make me notice, but glasses! OOF. Powerless against the combo- if you add in dimples and a sense of humor? I don’t even want to think about it, because nothing good can come of it from a teen’s Mom perspective.
I have gotten used to the girls growing up, wearing makeup, experimenting with fashion and perfumes, giggling and talking about “this boy” or “that one hottie“, but when you see them start to interact in those very early courtship rituals, with that one particular boy you heard them giggle over- it’s a punch in the gut. When there are a plethora of good looking young men milling around your daughter and her friends it’s unbearable. AND the boys hit every young girl’s soft spot- we had a “bad boy” (who is actually a very sweet boy, but dresses the part), a “music geek”, and the other two I suppose are closest to “jocks”, but I don’t know what the kids-these-days call kids that actually go outside and play sports, ride bikes, etc. All four smart, sweet boys. It will be a damn shame to have to break one’s hands. (Hey, accidents happen when hands are put in areas they should not be in. Just saying.)
My baby girl isn’t a baby anymore. Sniffle.
I mean, it’s hard enough to hear one of your friend’s (and an older friend at that) say the following about your 19 year old’s newest Facebook Profile: “Oh my GAWD! When did he get Hot?!?! He lost the chubby cheeks, gets himself a haircut and turns out SMOKIN‘!?!” (The song “It’s the end of the world as we know it” has been on constant loop in my head since I heard that phrase).
Hearing “What a handsome boy you have!” is so much easier on a Mother’s ears(and heart) than THAT. You are my friend, and I love you. But you are a Slut, with a capital “S” for noticing and much, much worse for saying. In earshot. Dammit. I keep hearing it on a loop. It won’t go away. You have been dis-invited to the girl date to see Magic Mike- because you will ruin it. By existing. YUCK.
Cory looks and sounds so much like his Dad that it is eerie. He has my hair and eye coloring, but everything else is Jimmy. So, I guess I knew this day would come. I was afraid that one day he would put down the ice cream and pick up the dumb bells. Not that I wanted him to be unhealthy- not at all, but once he shed the baby fat and the frizzy frame of hair that he hid under, I knew it would get real uncomfortable for me.
Hearing my babies get looked at as something more than just an adorable, or (in the case of my son) mischievous child is a completely unsettling and odd feeling. I don’t think I like it much. I know I have to, but I don’t want to get used to it.
Compounding those two things with the inability to walk past a mirror without seeing my reflection and thinking “UGH,why do I look so OLD?” and not only feeling old, but ugly too. Then instantly remembering when I didn’t hate my face/body in the mirror, and fondly recalling what it was formerly capable of (muscle tone, flexibility, endurance, speed, strength) has caused some serious internal strife. Now, if I could just get myself to run and lift weights instead of eating everything that isn’t nailed down when I am sad/depressed- maybe I could change that internal dialogue.
Yes, I know it’s not healthy to say the things to myself that I do. Yes, I know that model perfect features are an unrealistic expectation, especially as you age. Yes, I know that how I see myself will impact how my daughter sees herself. So, why then is it so hard to KNOW what is right and still have such struggle? I like to think that I am a very good role model for my daughter- but with the physical part, I very much struggle and hope that I have not imparted any of my broken thinking and negative self imagery to her.
The weirdest part about the whole thing? When I look at my daughter all I can see is absolute beauty. Even as I see certain features that are eerily reminiscent of my own, I don’t see any flaws. No imperfections. I only see her gorgeous face- I don’t feel the need, that weird inner drive to look for defects. But when I see my face, one that is very much an older version of my daughter’s face, all I see are the blemishes. The wrinkles, red spots, bloated eye lids, saggy areas, and the list goes on.
I suppose that it all boils down to love and perception? Perhaps my self perception wouldn’t be so brutal if I had half the love for myself that I have for my child?