40, Fabulous, and Perfectly Imperfect
40—that number sounded ancient at age 21. And now, here I am, turning 40. Recently, I started to focus on the signs of aging when I looked in the mirror—the gray hair, the creases in the skin on my neck, the chin hairs that now appear more frequently, etc. Then as I looked closer, I realized that my face and my body is perfectly imperfect at 40 and it’s ok.
My scars, marks and imperfections kinda sorta narrate the story of my life.
For example, when I wash my hair in the shower, I feel the small raised scar on the back of my head. That small raised bump hidden under my hair reminds me of being a little girl warming myself by the fire at a friend’s cabin in Vermont. I leaned back just a little too far and hit my head on the stone fireplace. Although the small head injury wasn’t exactly the highlight of that trip, the scar brings to mind how my parents always strove to give me the very best childhood possible—planning trips filled with wonder, fun, beauty, memories, unforgettable experiences and even education.
Then I wash my face each night and see the chicken pox scar on the bridge of my nose between my eyes. I laugh to myself remembering my mom trying to expose me to chicken pox to get them out of the way as she was afraid I would get a worse case if I got them as an older child. These were clearly the days before we had the chicken pox vaccine! After being exposed to the chicken pox on numerous occasions, I never got them until I was in seventh grade! Imagine my extreme horror when, already stricken with the awkwardness of puberty, I now had pock marks all over my face! I remember feeling like it was the end of the world as I knew it at that time. The remnants of my chicken pox will live on forever in my 7th grade school picture along with a very poofy poodle-esque perm and mouth full of metal. I can only imagine that my children will have quite the field day with that gem in a few years!
My right ankle displays a small, simple black sixteenth note tattoo I got with friends at age 20. As a small town girl with a reputation as a bit of a goody-goody, I felt the need to do something rebellious and getting a tattoo seemed as good a choice as any! I remember my parents being horrified when I came home from the fateful journey to the tattoo parlor. They said very little, but the disapproval in the room was palpable! Then I walked into my bedroom and hanging on my dresser mirror was an advertisement clipped from the newspaper for laser removal surgery. On the bottom of the ad was my mom’s handwritten note, “For future reference...” To this day, although I’m certain they must be over it, the tattoo still never comes up in conversation!
On my belly, there is a small scar where I had my appendix out just before starting my very first job as a classroom teacher. It was days away from the school year starting, and as a young, starry-eyed teacher, I wanted to be in my classroom as much as possible preparing and organizing as well as collaborating with colleagues. I’ll never forget calling my new teaching partner from the ER in tears because I had to cancel our planning meeting that evening. She chuckled at the fact that I was even still thinking about the meeting given the fact that I was most likely going to have emergency surgery later that night! I was living away from my family at that time and my mom was a state away caring for my Dad who had just undergone sextuple (yes, you read it correctly!) heart bypass surgery and understandably was scared to leave him. So, one of my besties and her parents came to my rescue and stayed by my side through the surgery so I didn’t have to be alone. This was the beginning of my support system of people who started out friends and very quickly became family.
Quite possibly the scar that marks my crowning achievement is my C-section scar that brought me not one, but two sets of twins! Even though the two sets of twins are now entering first grade and kindergarten, I still can’t help but marvel at how my body carried them all inside of it and how my pregnancies were both healthy and uneventful. Along with the c-section scar is also the wrinkly skin where my belly once (or twice) bulged with growing babies. I wear these scars and marks on my body as badges of honor—each tells a story of my 40 years on this earth and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In my opinion 40 looks pretty darn fabulous and I look forward to what the next 40 years have in store!