The evening sun softly sifts through the blinds of my window, warming up my reading corner. Reminded gently of that time of the year when the sun sets early and dinners are a prelude to the romance with black and white words in imaginary worlds, I smile as I sprinkle the pumpkin spice in my coffee, the aroma transporting me into the season of baking, of nutmeg and cinnamon, of vanilla and orange zest. I love fall, and all the things that come with it. Only a few more days, and I don’t have to hit the snooze button on my alarm that blares in the dark early mornings, thanks for daylight savings.
It’s hard, the life of a working mother who wants the best of both worlds. I want to have my career, my own identity, and my own life. But I want to park my car at that curb to see my child walk out of the school gate with a heavy backpack, and capture those uncensored emotions on her face. I want to greet Darcy with a smile on my face in the evenings. I want time to read, and write, and if possible, relax. I am a greedy woman. I want it all, and I will do anything to have it all. I won’t call them sacrifices, I will call them trade-offs.
Rolling back the clock reminds me of the discussion I am having with esteemed ladies of my generation about rolling back the clock and erasing the changes that nature bestowed on us, and stress enhanced. Every baby added to the brood gifted a little cushion between the bones and muscles. Every smile added the laugh lines. Every frown added wrinkled on the forehead. Happiness spilled through the eyes, and they called it crow’s landing. Silver dust shines through the crowning glory, like a fairy blessed me. I have submitted myself to nature. Life has been too busy, and too crazy for me, I add more than I can manage, and the tradeoff I did was to never pause in front of the mirror to notice those changes.
Those are signs that I have lived.
But it’s not easy, surviving a visit to the mall, or going to my hair dresser, and sometimes even going to my doctor. Bowing my head in front of nature and accepting the changes gracefully is apparently a sign of weakness. The visit to the mall ends with the lady at the cosmetic counter showing me the fine lines that my unmagnified mirror fails to bring to my attention. The visit to the hair dresser makes me feel incomplete just with a cut and dry, because I sinned, I show the silver on my hair, and I don’t color and highlight the way she wants to. Ear hurts, I tell my doctor, and distractedly he looks at my face, suggests that I visit his spa where they cater to all needs (I changed the doctor, that’s a different story). I am sorry, but I will offend all of your sensibilities by not paralyzing the muscles on my face and chemically altering the color of my hair just to form an illusion about a youth that is on the last lap. I wish I could tell all these people, there is a magic mirror on my wall too, that tells me that there is a Princess in the land, much fairer than the queen, and the queen refuses to be her rival.
I don’t understand this obsession about restoring self, and immortalizing self physically. One of my friends asked “what would you leave behind?” She is a dentist, so I joked and said the teeth that you pulled out. Teeth can’t even be cremated, so I am right. As for me, I have a daughter who looks like me, and another one that is me. Between both of them, I am immortalized. Other than that, I contribute to the society in my own little ways. That little strip mall, that chain store, that office where they build new technology, and most of all that building where the rocket scientists work- I have majorly contributed in building them-renovating them, and hopefully in the next thirty years that I plan to be active, my legacy will include a landmark building. But right now, as I struggle in the middle, and try to rise like a phoenix out of the ashes of the great housing depression, I refuse to make the lines on my face a priority in my life.
Don’t mistake me. I don’t roam around with armpit full of hair, and ugly clothes, mismatched shoes. I do take care of myself and shine and sparkle, fill my closet with a thousand beautiful things that I will never need in this lifetime, and the shoe rack is my Achilles heel. On Sunday mornings when the Stepford ladies are busy baking breakfast for their families, I sweat under the Smith machine of our gym. I do wear sunscreen and slap on some lipstick before I get out of the door. What I don’t want to do is live in an illusion that the fountain of youth can be restored. I am proud of who I was, who I have become, and who I will be. Like my mother (and also mother-in-law), with her grey hair, I might look beautiful too.
All this talk about rolling clocks brings my attention to another clock of sorts, the biological clock. It’s not easy being a middle aged woman who is on her last lap of fertility. Don’t say ouch, but it is true. No matter how much you cover your grey, at thirty-six, the chances of having a healthy baby are significantly lower than when you were thirty. But still, there is one more shot at having a healthy baby till a woman hits forty, and then menopause. Surprisingly everyone in my family is taking a second chance, and in some cases a third chance this year. There is enough pressure on me to give it a try too, especially from my grandmother who thinks my life is incomplete without a baby boy- I should experience the pains of motherhood also, she says, not just the pleasures. I tell her I am done, but I don’t know if I am done. I might be done having babies physically, but emotionally there is still some love left to share. Someone special might fill that space one fine day, and at this point I am pretty much open to all adoption, foster parenting, or even mentoring.
But first, let me clear off the items on the checklist for now. The list is too long, and the day is too short!