When I look in the mirror today, I see a woman’s face crossing over into midlife. The changes in the delicate skin around and within the arcs beneath her eyes are a little unnerving.
In my mind, I’m not quite there yet. I want to tilt the mirror to a different angle, modify the light, or wipe away the years with my sleeve like fog from a steamy shower.
Take in account, I’m about three weeks overdue for my hair color treatment.
When it comes to coloring my hair, I’m a do-it-yourselfer. I prefer that to the fuss and ticket prices of a salon. Every ten weeks or so, I go to the store, browse the “50 luminous shades” of Superior Preference L’Oreal, decide on medium brown—again—and head home to mix, shake, squeeze, and massage the contents into my hair until it’s piled on top of my head like whipped meringue.
But, for whatever reason, I’ve gotten a bit off schedule.
So, today, although I’ve disguised what I can with a little concealer, the woman in the mirror reminds me time is passing and it’s not to be taken for granted. She stirs me to wonder what’s inside me that I haven’t embraced or offered. As though it’s a magical mirror straight out of a fairytale, I want to ask “Is this enough? Is there something more important I oughta be focusing on?
I was given a magical mirror once . . .
“It’s a magical mirror!” My youngest daughter, then five or six, excitedly announced as I unraveled the layers of tissue paper wrapped around her gift—a spoon with a pink ribbon tied around it.
With a giant grin, she’d handed it to me while I was sitting at the kitchen table. I can’t exactly remember what I was doing, maybe writing out a grocery list or reading. It wasn’t any sort of milestone or holiday. It was simply one of those “just because gifts” that lift and melt a mama’s heart.
“See, when you look close-up on this side, your head gets skinny and long,” she’d said as she picked it up and demonstrated, her eyeballs going cross-eyed as she practically put her nose right up against the side that curves outward.
“And when you flip it over on this side, your head turns upside down!” She exclaimed, bursting at the seams.
I wanted to run around and catch all the sparkles radiating from her excitement over this revelation and pour them all over me.
I’d amused myself plenty of times as a kid by looking at my distorted image in glass Christmas balls, but I can’t say I’d ever done that with a spoon. Certainly, at some point, I learned of its power for distortion, but I don’t recall ever putting it to the test with such intent and vigor. Not until my daughter wrapped one up for me.
After I gushed over her thoughtfulness and ingenuity with a great big hug, she skipped off, her thick blond, shoulder-length hair swishing like stage curtains, and headed back to the other room to join in on whatever her big brother and sister were doing.
It was a time for magic. Not the time to explain the physics of light waves to her. How an image is contorted when light strikes varying parts of it at different angles. How the curve in the spoon flips the light waves in such a way that when you look into it, you’re upside down.
Today marks the beginning of spring. Similar to those light waves bouncing off a spoon, the sun’s rays will bend and refract, causing nearly equal hours of day and night.
The earth’s equator will pass through the center of the Sun.
Plants will begin to bloom.
Animals will come out of hibernation.
And many of us—some in the midst of observing Lent in preparation for Easter—will renew our search for clarity, simplicity, and joy. Like the clarity and simplicity of a young girl tying a pink ribbon around a spoon, and the joy of her mother running around catching sparkles instead of lamenting in front of a mirror.
I’m Julie Jo Severson, mom of three and freelance writer and editor. This blog Carvings On A Desk is where I connect with my own voice. Click Here if you’d like to subscribe and receive the occasional stories I doodle about past, present, future clinking glasses and making peace straight to your Inbox.
Check out this fabulous collection of stories, Here In The Middle, crafted by The Sandwich Generation, which I was so fortunate to co-curate and edit.