When she was little, she never thought about her hair.
Except when her mother would give her home permanents.
This process involved bobby pins and strong chemical smells ending with curls in a swirl around her head.
Her bangs were cut straight across the middle of her forehead.
She hated it.
She wanted long hair but her mother wouldn’t allow it.
Why do mothers do this to their children?
One day that little girl grew up
Her grown-up self today glances in the mirror and asks…
“Who is that woman in the mirror?”
“When did the wrinkles come and when did my hair turn silver?”
The little girl inside herself never really thought about how her face would change.
She never thought that her face would be like her grandmother’s. She for sure didn’t think about wrinkles.
Today this grownup woman listens to those younger parts of herself say:
“Wow, what happened to your face?”
“What are those lines on your face and where did they come from?”
I want to be the one…
That tells these younger parts,
“Well, darlings, they came because I had so much fun.”
“I had the time of my life.”
I ate, I slept, I drank wine, I traveled around the world, I loved. I had moments when life was sheer adventure.
Then there were moments when I got worried and the lines between my eyes showed up
Like the time back in 1996 when I was on the Air Pacific flight leaving Vanuatu with my two little boys, returning to California with only a suitcase and a broken heart, leaving behind the life we’d had living on a tropical island for five years.
On that flight, I wondered and worried about how I would manage starting all over in the US.
I had no car, no home, and I was terrified. I didn’t know how to be a single mother or raise two rambunctious boys by myself.
“What about those lines around your mouth?” the younger parts of me ask.
Ahhh yes, they came after a lifetime of moments of smiling and laughing.
Like the time when Thom and I made it back down Mt. Fuji, in Japan… that formidable mountain climb.
We could barely stand up but we were laughing hysterically, triumphant that we had accomplished what seemed like the insurmountable.
It was one of my proudest moments and I was grateful Thom had talked me into doing the climb.
The lines around my eyes… they got deeper
When my eldest son, Andrew, told me he was going to free fall out of a plane from 15,000 feet in the air.
I said I didn’t want to know and to not say another word about it.
My gray hair turned white when I held Rob, my youngest, and hugged him goodbye before he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Shortly afterward, I read the article about the Marine Corps unit Rob was attached to in the Stars and Stripes on a military base in Japan.
It was the newspaper article that a parent should never read when their son is deploying to the most dangerous part of Afghanistan.
I remember that day, calmly folding the newspaper, placing it back into the wire rack, walking back to work, and shelving the idea that my youngest son might not come back to me.
That’s when I think the lines on my face got deeper and my hair evolved into silver gray strands.
More wrinkles gathered on my forehead in 2008 when Andrew was deployed to Afghanistan.
The doorbell rang and I was terrified that on the other side of that door would be a Marine Corps officer saying, “Ma’am, we regret to inform you that your son is dead.”
That moment never happened but I still hold that eight months in my heart as a really, really hard time.
To my grandchildren
I am a grandmother now with silver white hair.
I am the matriarch of a family.
I love these five precious, beautiful beings that will go into the world and carry my dreams and hopes for the future.
My hopes are high for them and what they will do in the world we’re handing over to them. This messed up, dark, scary world that they face.
My wrinkles tell the story of a life well-lived with minimal damage and with hopes that we have not destroyed their world for them.
I carry within me a hope that my grandchildren can tap into my wisdom of years that were unscathed.
My hope is that they can carry forward some of my wisdom to their own children and grandchildren.
I want them to love the lines in their faces.
I want them to know that living is not just about the good times. It’s about showing up fully as who you really are with all of your whole selves, with knowing that you can make a difference.
That their voices are powerful and strong.
That there’s a reason they’re here and that they each have their own purpose and gifts for the world.
I want my great grandchildren to know how much they were loved even before they were born and to pass this love onto their people.
I know that one day my grandchildren will look in the mirror, see their gray hair and wrinkles and realize that wrinkles are a way of knowing that they lived fully and completely.
To the younger parts of myself
In this new body and face and hair of mine, even though you don’t recognize me, I am you.
I am all of my younger selves and now I’m finally more you than ever.
And I am listening to you all.
The four year old who was innocent, the 10 year old that knew there had to be more than Millen, Georgia in life, the 12 year old who felt awkward and ugly.
The teenager who was silenced and afraid to speak up, the anger she had to suppress in order to be the nice girl and to be liked.
I’m listening to all of you now.
And I’m learning to bring all of us home to ourselves.
Oh, and by the way… I love my long, silver white hair with no silly bangs.
And I’m learning to love my wrinkles, too.
Over to you
Think about your own life and write in your journal using these journaling prompts:
- What I want my grandchildren to know…
- How I will view my wrinkles and gray hair is…
- So far my life has been…
Please share your thoughts or feedback in the comments section.