by KAREN POWERS
Last week I grew a little older and a whole lot wiser. It happened in the least expected way, but wisdom does that. It has a nasty habit of creeping up on you when you least expect it.
My eldest daughter and I called in to my husband’s work. This doesn’t happen very often as he is a commuter and we live a couple of hours away from his office, so the last time his colleagues saw my daughter was five years ago when she was twelve.
And as we stood there conversing, I suddenly saw my 17 year-old through the eyes of strangers and she was a beautiful, poised and articulate young woman.
It therefore wasn’t much of a surprise when my husband came home that evening and reported the office talk after we left. It was all about my daughter: how much she’s grown, how poised and beautiful she is, and (here’s the kicker) how much she is like her mother.
That’s the bit that made me sit up and take notice. She is a lot like me, you see. But when I heard the glowing praise of my daughter and the reference to her resemblance of me, all I could think was, “that used to be me”.
Once upon a time it was me who my husband’s colleagues called beautiful and lovely, wondering how (guffaw, guffaw) he could have snagged such a gorgeous wife. We used to laugh about it and say things like “well, that new moisturiser must be working well.” Last week was the first time those sentiments weren’t expressed. Well strictly speaking they were, just not about me.
And this made me realise I have reached that certain point in a woman’s life when she must concede her daughter is more beautiful than she is. It’s a bit of a wake-up call, certainly very humbling, and has prompted an entire gamut of emotions to unfold.
I am not a woman who is troubled by ageing. As a breast cancer survivor I treat every birthday as a gift and every wrinkle as a testimonial to my survival. Yet in many ways I have continued to perceive myself as a young woman, so last week’s reality check has forced me to admit this is no longer the case. My daughter has taken my place in this regard and with a tinge of regret I acknowledge I am no longer a girl touched by the beauty of youth, inspired by the promise of hopes and dreams ahead.
That girl is now my daughter.
Life is a little like a relay race, each runner representing certain stages of life’s journey. Evidently the youthful beauty leg of the relay has come to its end for me. Yet as I ponder a more mature style of beauty I realise there are many other avenues open for me to explore, such as the fulfilment of lifelong dreams and aspirations.
For at forty-three I still have an entire life ahead of me. I still have hopes and dreams, and dare I say it, passion. I am counting on another twenty years in the workforce and, heaven help me, am still not sure of my future career. In many ways, the most exciting time of my life is approaching – when my children finish high school and I regain my independence. What a marvellous independence it will be and so different to that of my twenties. With far fewer hang-ups, more experience, money and confidence I will be a force to be reckoned with.
So I will happily pass the beauty baton on to my gorgeous daughter, but I refuse to give up the hopes and dreams baton as well. We’ll share that baton – there’ll just be more wrinkles at my end.
This post originally appeared on iVillage.com.au and has been republished with full permission.
Karen Powers is a teacher librarian by day and blogs about that aspect of her life here. At the end of the day she is a writer, wife, mother and breastcancer survivor who has just launched a new blog here.
As a child or a parent, do Karen’s words resonate with you? Is it something you’ve ever thought about?