Trying to Embrace My Ever-Aging Face

Part of a "Martin Schoeller look alike" family portrait series. She's my wife's mother. And already a grandmother.
Part of a "Martin Schoeller look alike" family portrait series. She's my wife's mother. And already a grandmother.

There is beauty in the cracks.

She reached across the table and ran her hand along my cheek. A tender gesture from the new wife of my father's best friend as she remarked on "my beautiful young skin." I was in my early 20s and didn't think of my skin as anything but freckled and pale.

Today, as I look at my own girls' tender young skin I see now what she saw then. Uncreased, unblemished by sun or time or worry. Wrinkle-free.

Being in my 40s, the creep of age shows on my face. I'm trying my best to find the beauty in the creases, the crinkles around my eyes, the crepey skin at my throat. It finally resonates why Nora Ephron titled her memoir, "I feel bad about my neck."

I want to embrace the changes in my face, but instead find myself wondering why they call them fine lines at all. There is nothing fine about them. Try as I might, I can't see the pretty in my own imperfections the way I can see it in others.

I look at the crease along my oldest daughter's eyebrow and recall the exuberance and confidence of her 6-year-old self -- the little girl who earned that scar jumping across the steps of a fountain.

I run my finger along the crack in a piece of pottery I made in college, remembering how crushed I was when it came out of the kiln that way. Over time, I've come to see that it wouldn't be nearly as interesting without it.

I note the lines around my husband's eyes, recognizing them as a sign of someone who has spent the better part of his life smiling. On him, the wrinkles read as charming and handsome, not old.

I admire the broken veneer of a meringue, just out of the oven. It's not a flaw, more like an invitation to pick it up, break it open, and not wait another single second before eating it.

I know there is beauty in the cracks. I'm hoping, some day, I can see it in myself.


This post originally appeared on Katie's blog Mom's Kitchen Handbook, where you can also find her recipe for Chocolate Meringues. Be warned, they are so good, they might cause you to smile and smiling causes wrinkles. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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