“The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.” Chinese Proverb
I celebrated a birthday this past week, I turned forty-seven. Now, listen to me when I say this: I do not consider the age of forty-seven to be “old.” I just don’t. But my son, Julian–almost ten years old–clearly does. It’s obvious that he’s been eyeing my face, entertaining himself by counting all of the wrinkles and sunspots he can find there.
I’ve had to give myself a pep talk every time he pokes at my underarm triceps area just to see, “How squishy they are today!”
And he’s not shy, not one bit, about telling me that I snore.
Like most people over forty, I quickly come up with stories and anecdotes about how things improve with age, how values tend to go up with age.
“Like what?” he’ll demand.
“Like cheese and wine,” I’ll argue. “Famous works of art, books, land, stocks and bonds, jewelry and rare coins, stamps…” suddenly, I realize that I’m overreaching. “Well, they do,” I sigh, shrugging my shoulders. “In fact, did you know that in France, women ‘of a certain age’ are looked up to and admired by the youth in their society? That French women are even described as glamorous and sophisticated way past their seventies?”
“Right.” His turn to shrug. “But…Mom, that’s in France.”
It’s not beneath me to go on to argue that if I do have wrinkles–or war wounds, as I call them–that they must be from all the worries and anxieties I’ve had from being his mother. I’ll remind him of the time he got his finger pinched in the door, the time he hit the corner of his eye on the doorknob because he was tottering around in the dark, the day he got his appendix removed…
And then I realize, as I babble, that now I DO sound old.
What I don’t say in this conversation of age, wrinkles, time passing and whatnot, is that many of the war wounds on my face, and in my body, came from losing his brothers and sisters. They were a part of me that I used to hate, but now I know that they need to be a part of me that I can give thanks to, in love.
The proverbial “ticking clock.” When my first child died, the first of five, I was forty. I turned forty a few months before I got pregnant, and like most forty-year olds, went out that night with the girls to “celebrate.” I didn’t realize, until my birthday just a few days ago, that that celebration, seven years ago, was the last time I allowed myself to fully experience a birthday. The last time I joyfully celebrated the existence of “Me.” The last time I didn’t punish myself for growing yet another year older, further and further away from the possibility of my dream ever coming true, my dream of having a larger family. As I was opening my gifts this year, laughing and enjoying the experience, I suddenly realized that I’d finally forgiven myself, that the punishment–that wasn’t necessary in the first place–was over.
How do we come to hate ourselves, to hate our bodies, when we lose a child? How can we take something so precious, so miraculous, and turn it into a nightmare? Dead or alive, children lived inside of me, and my body was their only home here on earth. Shouldn’t I take care of myself by learning to love the home that gave them life?
So, I did an odd exercise. I call it “odd” because it’s something that I would never think to do, not in a million years, if I hadn’t read about it in a book. I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, made full eye contact with myself, took many deep breaths…and then told myself, “I love you.” I said it again, and again, and again. And then, I sobbed.
But, here’s the key: it felt good.
I do this exercise often, every morning actually when I get up. There’s a post-it note on my mirror to remind me, because–how strange is this–we forget to love ourselves, most of us punishing ourselves for one thing or another. And now when I say, “I love you,” I smile, and I mean it. Because what is there not to love? We are all, each one of us, beautiful creatures of nature.
Happy Birthday to me. And, Happy Birthday to you, when it’s your turn.
Thank you for “sharing” and “liking” any blog that moves you. Have a special day…♥
Photos on Visualhunt.com.