by Meg Fitzpatrick from Simply Nutmeg
I could spend hours just staring at my feet. In fact, I often do. Why? Because my feet are the only part of me that look exactly as they did when I was sixteen years old. I can stare at my ankles, too. I'll even allow my eyes to move as far up as my shins before I have to stop. It's the knees; the knees have aged. They're not so bad in the prone position, but when I stand up, there's this little saggy pin-cushion that sort of drapes over the knee cap. That definitely wasn't there at sixteen.
I guess it's safe to say that we age from the top down-- it must be a gravity thing. I was in my thirties when my magnificent, red, curly hair started getting less magnificent. Pregnancy hormones seemed to be involved. During my first pregnancy, my hair stopped curling. During my second pregnancy it started looking more brown than red. After my third pregnancy, my hair as much as gave up and half of it fell out. Now I have nice, wavy, not so magnificent, brownish, short hair. Big blow to the ego!
From there it’s just the California mudslide of the face, breasts, stomach, and buttocks. Really, if you can handle that one sentence gracefully, aging is a piece of cake! I’ve watched victims of other natural disasters, in the world and in my own town, handle their losses with such faith and dignity – tsunamis, floods, brush fires, hurricanes. My thoughts (obsessions really) about Botox put me to shame. But my feet, my feet are lookin’ good! I’m too sexy for my feet!I miss the days of driving around town in my little blue Nissan coup when men’s heads would turn and road workers would whistle. It was the magnificent hair mostly. Why is it that nobody seems to wrench their necks when my fifteen-year-old mini-van tools by with the four car seats? Maybe I should try driving it with my feet!
So, how do I deal with my own natural disaster further developing as I write? I paint my toenails sparkly bubble-gum pink, I wear sandals whenever possible, and I marvel at how beautiful my inside is becoming. Actually, when I think back to the sixteen-year-old me, the one with the hair and the breasts that had yet to spend eight years nursing babies, and the pin-cushionless kneecaps, I was a train wreck! All that sheer beauty wasted on insecurities, inflated expectations, jerky guys, and fair-weather friends.
Some foreign alien seemed to enter my head in my late thirties and decided to clean out and organize. The alien made three piles on my front lawn: throw away, keep, and sell. These are the things the alien threw away: out went the worn out anxieties – anxiety that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, thin enough, sexy enough; out went the over-used fears – fear that there will never be such a thing as their college funds, fear that we’ll end up in the poor house, fear that I’ll screw up these four blessed children, fear that I’ll never have a flat stomach again; out went the inflated expectations – the expectation that my house will always be clean, the expectation that my children will always be well behaved and dressed in color coordinated clothes, the expectation that I will meet every want and need of every human being who casts their eyes my way. All of this stuff got put on the curb by the alien and, early one morning was picked up by a garbage truck. I’ve yet to miss any of it.
Here are the things the alien let me keep: in went my endless, unabashed love for my amazing husband and four beautiful children. In went a newfound desire to give, to share a little bit of myself every day. In went my unwavering spirituality and a willingness to allow it to lead me down the path of my life. And, in went my sense of humor, my constant ability to laugh at myself and my talent for making others laugh too. My alien put all of this stuff in see-through, labeled, plastic containers, so I can find them easily and use them often because really, what more do I need in life?
What went into the sell pile? Absolutely nothing! I think the alien was disappointed but I’m just not selling myself any more. I am finished trying to convince the people around me that I am worthy of their company, that I should be a member of their club. Here I am, take me or leave me, I’ll survive either way. If you decide to take me you will find that I make a terrific wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. And look down because I have really beautiful feet.
A writer, editor, teacher, and mom to four little menches, Meg takes life with a grain of salt and a little vodka. You can tune into her cyber sitcom at Simply Nutmeg.