My immediate reaction to wrinkles: "Holy crap, who put that there?" But, when I really think about it, I kinda like wrinkles. On everybody.
My son and I were standing in the hallway mirror this morning, as we often do, so he could stare at himself, laugh and bat at his reflection. And, as I often do, I studied the differences in our faces. Not the Oh-my-God-my-baby-doesn't-look-like-me differences, but the variations in our skin. His skin is so white and even and smooth. Mine is so full of pot holes and blotchy colors and engraved lines. If I take the mental high road and manage not to trip and fall on my wrinkled face, then I can appreciate those engravings. Those wrinkles around my eyes? Those are the eight years I have spent laughing with my husband. Those wrinkles around my eyes? Also, all the crying I did our first year of marriage. Adjusting to marriage was not easy for me. I tend to look at the experiences I want out of life through rose-colored glasses, skipping the details and possible pitfalls, and only looking at the dreamy, fantasy-like possibilities. Then, when my dream comes true and I get what I want, I think, "Hey, this sucks. This is harder than I wanted it to be. What in the crap have I done?" This is always quite jarring. Then, I get a lesson in reality, I slowly adjust over time and life goes back to normal, whatever that is. Now, I love being married.
Wrinkles show how we got to where we are today. The highs, lows, laughs, and sobs. Even when wrinkles are the result of something harrowing, like addiction, there is still something deeper behind the addiction, a reason, a lack of self-worth, a history, damage, a personal struggle. The wrinkles tell a deeper story. The wrinkles around my mouth? Ten years of smoking on and off (don't worry Mom, I haven't smoked in three years, thank you very much!). Late night parties and lack of sleep in my twenties. Angry words that shouldn't have been said. Words that should have been said, but weren't. Lots of smiling, hiding my feelings, letting them out, masking my past pains. Wrinkles on my forehead? Genetics. The divorce of my parents. My sister's collapsed lungs. My sister's car wreck. My sister's appendicitis. My sister's infection. (Wait a minute, Jill. I think you owe me some plastic surgery) Marriage. My son's birth. Breastfeeding. Post-partum depression. Lack of sleep. Too much well-worth-it sunbathing. Therapy. Past boyfriends and broken hearts. On and on and on....
My son is brand new. Not stressed. Not damaged. And his face shows it. His beautiful, handsome, sweet, smooth face. Mine? Mine shows 34 years of love and happiness, stress, sadness, bad choices, and lots and lots of laughter. All of it, well worth it.
And when I think about my wrinkles from this perspective, how can I not embrace every single one? They tell the story of my life so far. Now give me a hug, you aging complexion!