My right eyebrow has three snow-white hairs now. If I pluck them, I imagine I will eventually end up without an eyebrow at all and then I’ll have to use a shaky old-lady hand to draw them in with a Sharpie marker. So I let them grow. One day I’ll have white caterpillars crawling across my forehead where my eyebrows used to be.
(Other unauthorized hair is removed immediately, just in case you wondered about my face but aren’t lucky enough to study it up close. And believe me, very few people are that lucky.)
The point is, I’m getting old. If you are older than me, you will cluck and think how ungrateful I am not to realize how young I am. If you are younger than me, you might roll your eyes and think that I can’t possibly understand because I’m a fuddy-duddy, only you wouldn’t use that word because it’s very old-fashioned which just proved your point. Am I right? You think I’m old.
I’m feeling my age and not just in my lower back and my stiff hands. When a teenager says my name in a particular way and calls me “judgey”, the stream of time between us swells into a flood and there’s no bridge. When that teenager thinks I’m unreasonable because I won’t let her do a particular thing before she’s 18, I feel my age. (I feel old.)
But it’s not all bad. Age gives you a perspective that only time provides. A year to a teenager is a big slice of his or her life. Four years are almost incomprehensible when you are fourteen.
I’ve been fretting for over fifty years, though, and I have learned a little something that soothes my troubled heart.
First, a good night of sleep makes almost everything seem better. That’s why there’s hardly any point in worrying about things at night or having a difficult conversation after 8 PM. Just take that burden and tuck it into bed and go to sleep. You can untuck that problem in the morning and pull its snarling face close to yours if you want, but at least you’ll be fresh and the problem won’t seem so impossible.
Or maybe it will. But you lived through the night and doesn’t it seem slightly better? At least you’re a day closer to a solution.
Second, I know this for sure: This, too, shall pass. This good thing will pass. This bad thing will pass. This awful year will pass. A year goes by fast, even faster if you are old. When you’re twenty, you can barely remember being four. When you’re thirty, you barely recognize your teenage self in photos. When you’re forty, you can’t believe all the things you were allowed to do when you were a mere baby of twenty. When you’re fifty, you know that your child’s unhappiness is fleeting and even though it’s only September now, it will be September 2017 in the blink of an eye.
(When you’re fifty you sometimes torture yourself by reminding yourself that you have most likely squandered half your life and you tell yourself mean things as you look into your own puffy eyes in that horrible mirror that reflects your face at five times its normal size and you think, why do I look into this mirror which magnifies my face into such a ghastly size and why do I look so old and also, what have I done with my life that even matters? Or maybe that’s just me.) (But you can’t get rid of that mirror because of the unauthorized hair mentioned in paragraph two. So. It’s problematic.)
Unfortunately, the whippersnappers in my sphere of influence don’t truly believe that I understand much of anything, including the nature of time. Probably they’re just distracted by those three weird white hairs in my eyebrows.
Oh, who am I kidding? No one’s looking at my eyebrows. (Well, now you will look at my eyebrows.)
Anyway, I’m just a mom with fading eyebrows trying to do and say the right things. Time to tuck my burdens into bed and get some sleep because Christmas will be here in just a second.