Change is the watchword.
And me, being me, am packing as many changes as I can into a short period of time. Like how I went through college — signing up for summer classes almost every year so that even though I changed my major in the second semester of my junior year, I still graduated on time.
I kind of regret that now. I wish I’d taken a little more time, explored a bit more, not pushed myself to burnout at the age of 22. But it’s my nature, I guess.
After looking pretty much exactly the same from the age of 20 onward, sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who the hell is looking back. I’ve given birth to two children, breastfed one of them for an extended period of time, and plunged into perimenopause in little more than 5 years. Most women spread these events out over 10 or 20 years, but like everything else, I’m doing this on the fast track.
The person in the mirror is a bit more recognizable now that I’m back to my normal weight, but life has edited my body into something both familiar and all together foreign. The obvious changes — how I dress, how I wear my hair and makeup — were brought about by the fact that instead of working in an office, I spend a great deal of time wrangling squirmy, tantrumy, gooey children. I’m down two moles, but have picked up more freckles and a tan. If I tighten my abs, my belly looks as it always did, but if I relax, it becomes a mom pooch even on my thinnest days. My face, hands, and arms are more lined than they used to be — partly age, partly sun damage.
All of this is to be expected, I know. It’s the speed with which it’s all come about that is sometimes disconcerting.
I see my mother, my grandmother, and other women in my body. Plus my advancing years. Fat has left the places it used to hang out and shacked up with other body parts; my boobs now think my lower back is a great place to be, for instance. My calves and arms, once slender sticks, bear the small but sculpted muscles I failed to build with 15 years of concerted exercise.
But I’m still in here, you know? I see me, beneath all these alterations. Me at 20, 25, 30, 35. It’s like someone slapped a Snapchat filter on me — a Mom filter. All I need to complete the image is a pair of mom jeans. (Which, I’m old enough to know, used to be just jeans until the people who wore them became mothers).
An exchange that took place between me and my offspring this weekend:
Kai: Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!
Me: Why are you chanting my name? Am I a rock star?
Anya: No, you not been a rock star in 20 years.
Me: I’m not a rock star?
Me: I’m a has-been?
Anya: No, you cool.
Me: What am I, then?
Anya: A mom!