Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Face

Lately I keep finding myself surprised by my life.  And really, it is all my face's fault. (I want that to read: the fault belongs to my face, but for some reason I feel like that is not the way it came across. Punctuation error?)

The girls and I go about our day, drifting in and out of rooms, playing, tidying, quarreling, scolding, teaching, singing, jumping, dancing, sleeping.  And each of us get our turn at each of these activities.  Sometimes, be it coincidence, or fate I will be walking past a reflective image just as the girls shout out some cliche like, "Mom, I need you!"  or as I am shouting out some cliche like, "Stop hitting your sister!"

As these words are said, by them,  by me, my ears hear them or the mouth says them at the same time that my eyes see my face in that reflective surface, and for that first instant of recognition I am stuck in a paradox.  My eyes know that they are seeing me, but the information being received by my ears seem in direct conflict with that knowledge.

How can that face be a mother?  It can't be possible for that face, the one that belongs to a soul who still so desperately needs her own mother to be a mother.  It can't be possible for the girl inside who still so vividly remembers hitting her own sister to be advising against such action to two other little girls, her own girls.

When these strange moments happen I find myself pausing, reflecting in front of that reflective surface.  I find myself wondering what my girls see when they look at my face.  I see my eyes, and my nose, my mouth and my teeth - all the same facial features that I have always had, and yet something about them is indescribably different from the face I had in high school, in college.  I examine this face, this one that seems new every time I see it.  Is it all of the areas between the facial features that has changed?  And if that is the answer, is it the skin, or the flesh beneath the skin?

Sometimes I don't even need a mirror or window to have one of these surreal moments.  Sometimes they come as I look into the faces of my daughters.  When I have scolded harshly, or abruptly, or without (to their mind) apparent reason, when I have been impatient or hasty, or said no to what they want for no other reason than "mommy's tired" - when I have acted thus I see something in their face that makes me wonder.

When I want to react selfishly, when I want to ignore their needs in favor of my wants I have to remind myself of those little faces.  And I have to remind myself that if I were to look into the mirror I would not see high school me, or college me, I would see wife and mother me - and I have to act accordingly.

I also wonder if there will come a day when my face in the mirror and the undeniable fact that I am a mother (of crazy three now) will somehow reconcile themselves.  Until then I guess I will keep being surprised by my life, by my very face.


  1. I definitely identify with this! :)

  2. You have no idea how much I needed to read this today, thanks for putting something into words that I am just starting to figure out!

  3. I keep being surprised by watching small lines appear on my face. I am okay with them—no problem with having full out wrinkles some day, but they always surprise me, because I feel so young.

    And sometimes I do look at my kids and think, wow. I'm they're mom. How did that happen? :)