My daughter and I were looking at a photo album the other day when she said, “Wow, Mom, you look so young here.” I just frowned at her and replied…”Sweetie, we took this picture last fall. I don’t look that much younger.” Then, she did the little head bobble thing, as if to imply that I was delusional. I heard my husband sighing in another room, which only meant that he keenly sensed the annoyed inflection in my voice and knew to use his ejector seat button on his escape hatch.
Later that evening, I began to examine the different angles of my face. Sure, there were a few crows-feet but they were nothing to get injections over. I also had the patent laugh lines, which I hated, but again, not really a candidate for Restalyne yet, and I had a few railroad tracks on my forehead…nothing bangs couldn’t hide. Moreover, I didn’t have any jowls, or even a turkey neck, so, what did my daughter see that I didn’t?
Perhaps, she sensed the overall marking of time by the nature of the picture itself. She certainly noticed the changes in herself and her younger brother, as their transformations are very rapid and obvious from year to year. Was she just plain insightful? An old soul? On the other hand, was she just being a typical 10 year-old girl on the verge of tweendom? Yet, instead of asking her what she meant by the comment, or why she thought I looked younger, I became the wounded juvenile by just being automatically insulted followed by an hour-long session of aesthetic insecurity in front of the mirror.
I studied the picture after she went to sleep. In the picture, we were all picking apples in the local apple orchard. I was wearing a torn pair of shorts, my hair was up in a ponytail, I was wearing sunglasses, and then it hit me. I don’t think it was that my face looked younger, per se; rather, my behavior reflected that of a more carefree person. We took goofy pictures in the orchard, talked about apple recipes, joked around, and finally, ate the fruits of our labor in the car. It was a great day, and we were in a great mood. The photograph reflected all that carefree, uninhibited behavior which my daughter internalized as youthful. The laugh lines, along with the detested age spot on my face, and the railroad tracks on my forehead were still there and trust me, they weren’t etched in any deeper than a picture of me recently, but to her, it was the candidness of the shot that probably prompted her to make that remark.
Now, given this epiphany I am still going to be vigilant about my wrinkle free night cream, but, maybe, a little free spirit goes a long way.