Update: My friend Mary and I are collaborating on the #lovemylaughlines project in an effort to help folks be comfortable in their own skins and we would love to see your laugh lines too. Tag a selfie or self portrait on Instagram with the hashtag to share your beautiful proof with us!
I’m a big fan of people doing things to take care of themselves and make themselves feel good. I’m a group exercise class nut and a certified Primary Pilates instructor as of this past Monday. I eat and drink moderately, except for when I don’t. I get plenty of fresh air and I’m possessed of a finely tuned sense of self-preservation that prevents me from grabbing door knobs then licking salt from my fingers but has nothing to say whatsoever about hurtling down a sledding hill on a flying saucer I’ve had since age eight. Hint: That means I’ve been beating up that sled for over three decades. Oof. I love nice clothes and make-up, even though I don’t wear them all the time, and you’re quite as likely to find me wearing jeans with mismatched socks and my “Weird Al is my Homeboy” t-shirt as you are to find me “done up” with hair, make-up, and clothes all in order. I love pretty stuff.
And I love my growing collection of wrinkles.
I’m not kidding.
I’m so pleased that I’m given the gift of continued life and health and wrinkles. Yes, I think they’re a gift! I have laugh lines around my mouth. LAUGH LINES, PEOPLE. That means I’ve had enough smiling and laughter in my life for them to leave on my face the indelible evidence that I’ve been a happy person. How is that a bad thing?
I have smile lines around my eyes. Happy thoughts, naughty thoughts, looking at a strong sun on a cold winter day; anything that made my eyes scrunch up is recorded around the eyes that show me the world. Again? I’m smiling my way through life. Those lines are PROOF.
This photo taken of my mom, aunts, and grandma by Anna Grimm of Moments Captured is the best empirical evidence I can offer, and it’s substantial. Laugh lines are beautiful. Smile lines are gorgeous. They’re a sign of a life well-lived. These ladies have shown me that my entire life.
The furrows in my brow from concentration, deep thought, or irritation? Yeah, maybe I could’ve done without my son disappearing for long enough to scare me to death those many years ago, the broken arm of another son, or the worry over the asthma of yet another son, And the truth is that the losses of my stepmom, Grandpa, uncle, and aunt, niece and nephew hit hard, but I wouldn’t smooth those away for love nor money either. You know why? Because all of this is part of who I am and what I’ve done and where I’ve been. Without THOSE lines, I wouldn’t have a record of having loved and lost people who were so immensely important to me.
Am I shaped like I was at age twenty? Not even close. Five pregnancies will do that to you. Heck. ONE pregnancy will do that to you. Shoot. LIFE will do that to you. Would I trade in my softer self to look like that waifish eighteen or twenty old again? Not for anything. No. No hesitation. I am physically strong (see exercise class junkie confession above), totally at home in my own skin, and willing to wear my no-longer-inner-dork with pride.
And those veins starting to announce themselves more readily on the backs of my hands? Those are a road map of the work I’ve done; diapers changed, noses wiped, pieces written, photos taken, dishes washed, hands held, floors scrubbed, wood stacked, books read, and doors opened. Okay, I mostly open those doors with my elbows if I can. (See above self-preservation confession.)
Still, I wouldn’t dream of Botoxing or chemical peeling or plumping or lipsuctioning or lifting away all of those marks of victory and persistence and happiness.
Every little wrinkle and imperfection I grow is a metaphor for the uncertainties of earlier years falling away. They’re badges of honour and an outward sign of how much more comfortable I am as a human being and child of God than I ever was before today. And THAT is why I’m aging like a boss. This is a one shot deal. I’m attacking in a flurry of lycra clad exercise classes and enjoying the ride, wrinkles and all.