I officially found out today that I indeed do look as tired as I feel. And not only tired, but old. I remember a comment my mom once made about how presidents tend to age a lot from the beginning of their terms to the end because of all of the stress they endure while in office. Well, I’m not exactly President of the United States, but next Monday, I will have been Mom of the Swensen Household for three years (yeah, yeah, I know I’m a dork), and I think the same rule applies to my position.
I’d begun to suspect that perhaps I was starting to look older when I observed the broadening crow’s feet curving out from the corners of my eyes like spare smiles. But I brushed off any negativity that accompanied the observation, reminding myself that I’d always hoped to have crow’s feet when I got older, since they seemed to be signs of a joyful, friendly person. One girl in my high school youth group even used to say that she pictured Jesus with crow’s feet. That and red, red lips. She would grin and hiss when she said "lipsss", like she was really relishing the image. The red lips part secretly scared me, but I always loved the idea of Him having crow’s feet. People with crow’s feet are just so approachable.
I noticed the bags, too. You know, the puffy, dark under-eye circles that serve as indicators of actual, physical baggage in one’s life. Not to say that my children are “baggage,” but they are most certainly a responsibility. My almost-three-year-old, Alice, sure gives me a run for my money. She runs. Everywhere. And she talks. Non-stop. And she’s learning to use the potty (‘nuff said). And my increasingly-active nine-month-old, Rowen, is shaping up to be a real mover and a shaker, too, what with all of his rockin’ and rollin’ and what not around the house. (Literally. He has yet to crawl, but he rocks on his hands and knees like a madman and he rolls across the carpet like his onesie’s caught fire.)
I visited one of my good friends, who is also a mom to two young children, this past fall with Alice and Rowen. One day, while sitting on her living room floor with our tiny tots, we were talking about make-up, and how, though we each struggled with getting it on our faces before lunchtime each day, wearing it was important—even when we planned to stay in—because it helped us feel more engaged with the day.
“There is one part of my face that I purposely leave make-up free,” my friend admitted, her hazel eyes twinkling with self-satisfied rebellion. “I don’t cover up the dark circles under my eyes because they’re sort of like a badge of honor…for being a mom to young children.”
I’d known what she was talking about. We’d snapped a lot of pictures of each other during my stay. One of my favorites was an image I’d captured of her standing on her porch, smiling down at me as she cradled her brand-new baby in a pink swaddle blanket. The morning sun shone radiantly upon her head, creating a sort-of halo effect atop her famously-frizzy brown hair. I told her I loved the image because I felt like it captured a certain kind of glory that accompanies the exhaustion of a woman postpartum.
I’d totally meant it at the time that I said it, but today I say…
...Not about her. About me.
I know I’m not a mom to a newborn anymore, but I’ve still got the under-eye baggage, which is currently making me feel like one giant bag—an old one! I have yet to research ways to conceal my two little “badges of honor” (ha!), but as soon as I find the time, I will! Unlike my pooped-out-and-proud-of-it friend, it was never on purpose that I left my under-eye bags unchecked—I guess I’d just been in serious denial of how pronounced they actually were! Maybe that’s why she’d brought up the whole leaving-the-dark-circles-uncovered thing in the first place—because she’d assumed I was doing the same thing!
Nope. I was just clueless.
I thank my DSLR camera for helping me finally see the light a couple of days ago. Well, I sort of thank it. I’m also sort of mad at it. While I’m loving the clarity and crispness it brings to the photos I take of my rosy-cheeked, porcelain-skinned children, I’m finding the camera does a little bit too good of a job of capturing the complexities of my rapidly wrinkling complexion.
I’d been taking some “selfies” (I hate that word, by the way) of myself and Rowen below our long line of living room bow windows while Alice napped. All of the pictures were going to be close-ups since my camera had no “zoom in/out” function and propping the camera on a chair and setting the timer wasn’t giving me the same quality of exposure that I got from pushing the button myself.
Yeah, the camera did a great job of providing exposure. Too good of a job, because when I stopped all of my snapping to check out the images, I felt completely exposed. Pretty much naked. The pictures were so clear, I could even make out the outline of my contact lenses against the whites of my eyes. Cheek wrinkles, forehead wrinkles, crow’s feet, under-eye circles…every blemish and scar and freckle was laid bare before my eyes as I gasped and pulled my baby’s grabby little paws away from the appalling screen.
I used to watch What Not to Wear like the show was going out of style. One of the hosts, Stacie London once said that if you put on an outfit and look in the mirror and think that something looks a little funky, it’s probably true. As much as you’d like it to be the case, the mirror isn’t just playing tricks on you and you aren’t imagining things. I guess the same goes for dark circles and wrinkles.
I have three sisters. Two are older and one is younger. Throughout the years, I’ve been asked repeatedly whether I’m the eldest. I used to wonder if it was perhaps because I came across as a little more mature than the rest. (Anyone who knows me very well is probably laughing right now. My sisters are undoubtedly rolling their eyes.) Well, roll no further, bag-free and beautiful eyes of my sneering sisters, because I’ve finally figured out the reason behind their erred assumption: I look old.