My girl turns 13 today. She looks and acts like a teenager. And she's growing every bit as gorgeous as I ever imagined. In turn, as the way these things go, I am fading (slowly? quickly?) On my way to becoming invisible. Something we all know happens. I'll look back on this ten years down the line and scoff at how little I knew, no doubt. Forty-three really isn't so bad, but I feel it sometimes. The incremental fading away.
At thirty-three I didn't feel age. I was not invincible as in my teens, but I was on my way to becoming my strongest. Hard. Tough. Knuckle push ups and 700 squats to start things out. Ninety minutes of mixed martial arts followed up by an hour of capoeira, just for fun. The bruises and aches were the same as they would have been if I were twenty-five. But if I had been twenty-five I probably wouldn't have had the stamina to bear it. I built a hard shell to contain everything that was falling apart.
More moderate now at forty-three. Physically things still aren't too bad. But the world sees me differently. Maybe it's because I work on a college campus, but I recognize times when I'm on the verge of being invisible. Is it them or is it me? I wonder sometimes. Not yet at the point where students tell me, "We just can't imagine you ever having been our age." Still, I speak of years and events and sometimes have to check , "Where you guys around yet when this happened?" I still say Walkman out of reflex even though I'm on my second iPod.
Sometimes I'm glad I got labeled "the fat one" or "the smart one" so early on. It meant I never banked all my self worth on beauty, which I thought I lacked. I had to find something else. I mean, I tried to do my best with what I've got. Don't we all? But good day or bad, good year or bad, appearance wasn't really what I was counting on, especially not as a young woman.
So, now mother of a teenager growing brighter. She shifts. I shift. It will be good to remind us both that how we appear to the world is secondary to who we really are and will be. She may not realize it, but someday she'll be where I am now and I'd like her to remember that it's nothing to fear. It's just how the wheel spins.