She looked at me with tired eyes and said, "Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don't recognize the face looking back."
This beautiful woman in her 70's and her mirror have come full circle.
I've had my own similar encounters with the looking glass over the years.
On the eve of my 41st birthday, I am becoming more and more aware of how I view my own reflection.
How I have seen my reflection. How I will see it in the years ahead. And how this has changed over the years.
We are too distracted to notice that much, but while we are living our lives, our mirrors have a life cycle all their own.
When we are very young, we don't have time to pause in front of mirrors. We are far too busy and focused on more important things. Like playing and being with our friends.
So, our Mommas remind us to comb our hair and check our outfits, because we have not bothered to take a look at our bed heads or mismatched untucked ensemble.
A few years go by and we begin to discover that we care about how we look. Our mirrors take on some importance in our lives. We stand in front of them and admire our new hairstyle. We turn and spin and look over our shoulder, on the left, on the right, to see our new outfit and whether it looks best with flats or boots.
A few more years go by and we are overwhelmed with the knowledge that we suddenly care about how others think we look. And our mirrors now become more than a reflection; our mirrors turn into a tool for comparisons. Our mirrors offer up opportunities for us not just to reflect, but to criticize.
With this, the mirror changes. Or how we look at it ... changes.
And it no longer shows us what we are. Instead, we can only see everything that we are not. Which means that surely someone else is. Or someone else has something better, different.
The color of our hair. The shape of our eyes. The size of our nose. Our complexion. Our height.
We give these mirrors so much power during these years. Power to push us forward and power to hold us back.
But if we are lucky, a few more years go by and eventually, we find a way out of its grasp. We take back the power and we move on.
And then, a few more years go by and we may find ourselves becoming Tired Working Mommas.
And the mirror becomes irrelevant for a few many years. The mirror disappears again for a time.
Because we don't have time to stop and look in a mirror. We are far too busy and focused on the important things ... again.
We are busy looking into the eyes of our babies and on the piles of laundry.
We are busy looking after toddlers and checking over homework.
We are busy going to games, planning menus and running schedules.
And for years, this goes on.
Life. Life goes on. Until it settles down, here and there, every now and then ... or sometimes 50 years later. And we have the chance to stop and really look in the mirror again.
Which is why we are surprised sometimes by what we see. Time has passed and we didn't pause to take a look. And we think we miss what was once there. The reflection that we saw before.
Before years. Before years of life.
Before kids. Before kids full of life.
That image in the mirror that we come to notice, an image that may have more wrinkles. More gray hairs. More pounds. But all that it doesn't show, is what really makes us ... us. The reflection of how we still see ourselves.
So if we look closely, there is a more accurate reflection all around us.
For me, I see myself better in my daughter.
In her profile. In her smile. In her words. In her attitudes. In her personality. In her style. In her flair.
She is my mirror now.
A mirror I can trust to tell me the absolute truth. Always. A true reflection of who I am and what I've shown her.
In her courage. In her confidence. In her kindness. In her cautiousness.
And for the record, I recently stumbled upon a picture of that 70-year-old woman with the tired eyes from 50 years ago. Yes. She has changed. Her reflection is not the same as it once was.
She was beautiful. Young. But unlived.
Now, she is still beautiful, surrounded by a loving, accomplished family and a life well lived.
A mirror that has come full circle, no matter what she sees in it.
So. Our challenge: We have to look. Look around. Look beyond the mirror, mirror on the wall.
And know that... yes, you really are the fairest of them all.