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The Day the Grays Came to Stay: a Personal Essay on Aging

Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life

One mama comes to grips with going gray and the unexpectedly difficult challenges of aging

Coarse, wiry, and demanding attention, it rose defiantly from my head. This bold strand of hair was a shiny silver color, perfect for the plucking.  As I reached for my tweezers, I noticed not one, not two, but MANY gray hairs. I froze. I began a rapid scalp inspection, barely thinking, just searching.

What I found was not good. Not ignorable. Not pluckable—there were too many gray hairs, all at once.

This was the day the grays came to stay. Up until this day, singleton gray hairs came and were promptly plucked. They were occasional and easily ignored. Then came the time warp that is motherhood. My life sped forward five years at the speed of light. My personal care rituals dwindled to basic upkeep, sometimes barely that.

I began to notice mild lines on my face. No prob, Bob. Smile lines and crow’s feet are cute on some people. Maybe they will be cute on me, too.

I began to notice slackness in my skin. Meh. It was inevitable. Not too bad looking, as long as I smile and maybe put on a little make-up. I can still look alive, especially with the help of some coffee (why on earth did I wait until this year to try coffee?!?).

I suppose I should have expected that the gray hairs would multiply and hide, only to ambush me once they had enough numbers. I would have to address them…later. Kiddos were screaming for attention (again), so I buried the knowledge within the folds of my gray matter, and it was game on for normality again.

But the incident nagged at me like a big grain of sand in my sock. But why? It’s just hair. It’s just a fact of life and of aging. And truly, I love aging. I learn more about myself, my relationships, and the world around me. I find ways to be more efficient, more centered, and I enjoy life a bit more. Getting older is AMAZING. So maybe it’s just that looking older is the issue? Yet there are so many powerful and beautiful women at every age. My looks barely seem to matter to me anymore, though maybe I have just managed to surround myself with lovely people who could care less about looks as well. And still, something about it all is sticking to me, like a wisp of a spider web you walk through then feel for days.

So I dyed my hair. Problem solved outwardly, but the inward agitation continues. These gray hairs are whispering to me from deep within the brown dye, urging me to prioritise and prune my life. Take hip hop dance, for example. Dance has always been my heart, and the spirit of hip hop has always resonated deeply within me.  But these days, I find that my desire to research educational methodology and create new avenues for learning has trumped this. I don’t want to let hip hop go, but there just isn’t enough time in a week to work, raise my kids, live life, and pursue all of my passions. It’s like I keep it on a high shelf, hoping I will have some time and energy to get it down, but it has been sitting there for so very long now. I don’t even know if it fits anymore, yet the thought of no longer having hip hop dance in my life is comparable to losing a limb—it feels that connected to me.

How on earth does a person let go of a passion? Yet I feel overwhelmed by all the projects I’ve put on this “shelf.” Some things will have to go or the shelf is going to break. But who am I without these parts of my personality—these things that make me ME.

I know I need to face my fears. I need to take stock of who I am right now, what I have to do and what I want to do, and look at how to make that happen in my life. I need to put to rest my old self, and learn to value my new self. I need to figure out how to properly mourn the loss of my old self and maybe find a way to preserve it to share with my kiddos one day.

I truly do love getting older, but these grays have really stuck a fork in my road. I think I’m going to sit here at the fork for a while until I have the courage to move forward.  It’s coming—I can feel it.

Lead image sourced via Pinterest

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