The art of aging gratefully: Christine Carter
This article was shared with permission from The Mom Cafe as part of an empowerment campaign, “Wear Yourself In,” led by eco-luxe skin care company Kari Gran. In response to the beauty industry pushing an impossible idea of flawless youth for years, the campaign encourages women to be kind to themselves, and their skin, as they reflect on beauty, aging, wisdom, and self-acceptance.
I am 47 years old. Wow. I can feel every single year lived through the molecules in my blood and the marrow in my bones. I have 47 years of living each and every day as me. Every age… every stage… of this lifetime. Every single step I took toward something or someone. Every single step I took away. It’s funny how every memory is sewn right into the very fabric of who we are. It’s fascinating that my mind can sometimes flash open hard drives of childhood and adolescence and young adulthood, awakening parts and pieces of me that bring me back to that very day, that very moment, that very emotion.
It’s extraordinary how we age, isn’t it?
Today, I am going to celebrate the very art of aging. The true gift of living.
I stepped out of the shower and took a long hard look in the mirror. I gasped as I often do, at the lines, the grays, the bulges, and flaps. And as I got dressed and began to put my make up on, it occurred to me that every mark and mole, every ounce gained and elasticity lost, every sun-speckled wrinkle and dimple has its time on my own timeline of hours gone by…
Filled with living.
My blue eyes have seen 47 years. For 17,155 days, I have woken from sleep and opened them to see. I figure I have used them about 16 hours of every day, so my eyes have given me vision for 274,480 hours. I reflect on the majestic landscapes, the precious faces, the atrocities and the victories I have been witness to in my life every moment of each hour. I smiled and squinted and sobbed with these eyes. I marveled and raged and cheered wide-eyed with wonder and dismay. I have rolled them and winked them and stared deeply into someone else’s eyes to find new souls before me.
I am guessing I have probably laughed and smiled for a total of five hours every day, which means I have smiled for 85,775 hours in my lifetime. That big grin that contorts my face has seemingly been a fierce force of joy in my days. I think back on the most hilarious memories, the greatest stories lived and told, the entertainment and giggles from shows and jokes. The unforgiving goofy ways I have of cracking my own self up. Oh the laughter… it still lingers in those lines.
I have held babies and children, teens and adults in my arms roughly three hours a day, averaging the parenting of my babies into that as well. Three hours a day for 365 days for 47 years totals 51,465 hours my arms have wrapped around another soul. There is nothing sweeter than a full embrace of another. I have been the recipient and the giver of the most tremendous means to connect with someone in each of those hugs, those holds, those carries.
I have walked and stood and moved with my legs for an estimated 10 hours a day, which means I have used my legs for 171,550 hours in my lifetime. These legs have moved me to new cities, up mountains, down streets winding through places new and old. They have bent and knelt and kicked and pushed through life’s vigorous waves of mobility. They transported me to serve and travel and push my babies in strollers for miles. With my freedom to move, I can accomplish anything.
I was born with blonde hair that grows an average of 6 inches per year. My hair has been budding new strands with a length of 282 feet of locks to cut and groom. I have only given 10 of those inches away, and I pray there is a precious blonde out there that survived her need to wear it. What a gift it is to have what many merely wish for. A form of beauty and grace and identity, my locks have served me well.
I have grown two children in my womb and these gifts have filled 11 years of my life. I will assume 24 hours a day (moms, you get that right?), which means 96,360 hours I have reaped the reward of childbearing. My skin has stretched and molded into a mother’s belly leaving behind the remnants of what was created within. Threaded of worn bands that fail to keep it in place, it swells to remember what was once inside.
My hips have shifted to fit those babes, and hormones have charged them wider… My hips have changed and rearranged dramatically in my menopausal years of ending a season of womanhood and gathering grace for the next. The layers of years added on to my bone have slowly increased my girth. Expanding as never before, reminding me that I am more of a woman now than ever before. Empty of parts, but full of residual physical traits that accentuate its splendor. I have been a woman every hour of every day for 47 years… Which means I have celebrated the unbelievably relentless and most extraordinary existence of my gender for 411,720 hours.
I don’t see my crow’s feet. I see the miracle of my vision.
I don’t see those laugh lines. I hear the laughter.
I don’t see these flabby arms. I feel the warm embraces lingering.
I don’t see the cellulite. I remember where these legs have taken me.
I don’t see the gray hair. I measure these locks to give again.
I don’t see the gut anymore. I cherish the vessel that gave me my babies.
I don’t see the bulges anymore, I realize the fierce and beautiful woman I am.
I will celebrate the undeniable blessing of being alive for 47 years, 17,155 days, 411,720 hours…
THIS is living deeply and deeply living.
Christine Carter is a SAHM of two pretty amazing kids. She has been writing at TheMomCafe.com for six years, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration and faith. You can also find her work on For Every Mom, Blunt Moms, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Mamapedia, Her View From Home, Huffington Post, MomBabble, ForHer, Parent Co., and Scary Mommy. She is the author of "Help and Hope While You're Healing: A woman's guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness." You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.