Lately, I find myself focused primarily on the care of some new friends who have unexpectedly, though some may say otherwise, appeared in my rather placid life. I had been under the impression, at the age of 39, my two children already born and now of school age, that most of my intense caretaking days were over, that is until my still youngish parents become elderly. I had at least ten years of unfettered carefree living, more reminiscent of my twenties perhaps. Days where hours stretch before me and end sleeping in bed with only my husband next to me. Sleeping easily and, well, since I’m in the sweet spot between having children who wake up every night and having menopausal night sweats. In short, I had not a care in the world.
Then last night my daughter drew lines on the part of her drawing which represented my forehead. In the detailed portrait of me she created with markers, there were six pronounced lines. I’m now officially wrinkled.
I did not immediately recognize them as such. She is five, after all, and although I think she has artistic talent, we all make mistakes. When she brought her creation to me, I commented on the colors, I commented on her attention to detail. I asked her to tell me about the extra lines.
“What are those?” I asked smiling, as I pointed to the six wavy horizontal marks on her paper.
“Your lines,” she said. “On your face.” As if that would be obvious, to anyone. Then she looked pointedly at my forehead.
“Oh,” I said, still smiling.
“Oh,” I said, not smiling.
When asked if she could still see them when I made my hair sweep in front to create long bangs she said, “Yes! You can!” In such an enthusiastic way you would think it was cause for celebration.
I asked her older brother about the noticeability of said wrinkles.
“You can’t really see them when it’s dark.” He said, barely looking up from his book. Apparently he had already spotted them.
I was standing in a bright room at the time. Directly under a light, in fact, so I moved to the unlit hall and asked again.
”It has to be darker.” And then as he kept looking at me, “Much darker.”
That evening I tried to seem youthful and energetic during their nightly rituals before bed, I skipped down the hall with my daughter to get her pajamas. I did a jig in my son’s room until he begged me to leave. I even did the hula while helping them brush their teeth. That was a bit messy, but I felt my clear display of youthful energy made it worth the clean up.
Since then I have tried to accept my wrinkles as new friends. I have carefully attended to them every night since discovering they were here with us all. New cream has been purchased for them. A special brush that rotates over them before we all go to sleep is used nightly. I have a new satin pillow that I ordered so that they sleep peacefully and stay young and small. A dermatologist appointment has been made in their honor. What will happen there, my wrinkles and I have yet to decide.
My husband has heard much about these new friends. Supportive as he is, he does not want to participate in their naming. I have been toying around with ideas. I have made sure to include them in all conversations. That’s what good friends do, and I don’t want them to feel left out. I now realize how often people I know well, or run into throughout my day, ask me how I am. It really is nice. It is civilized. I have answered every time, since learning that I am not alone, that we are just fine, thank you. My wrinkles and I are just fine. Thanks for asking.
These wrinkle friends have become a pastime for me. Researching their care, their options for the future, now takes up much of my day. So much information is available online. They have so many opportunities. I see them easily now, the good friends that they are; they never leave my side, and we often spend many minutes a day together looking in the mirror. I like to think they now feel well known.
I know people who have obliterated their own with needles, lasers and such, but I fear the possibility of the drooping eyebrow side effect that can come with needles. I don’t want to look like I’ve had a stroke. I’d rather have my wrinkle friends.
We’ve decided to cancel the dermatologist. But all lights should be dim from now on.
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