12 November, 2006

Mr. And Ms. Warts-And-All

Many women, in their middle-years, when looking in the mirror are often, unpleasantly, confronted with an aged stranger: their own bodies… Ms. Warts-And-All. Once confronted with this stranger, we look the other way: much in the manner of looking the other way in a bus when someone begins to rant and rave in an un-seemingly manner. Or we have a jerk- knee reaction in a cover-it-up-and-it-will-go-away sense. We cover up the grey hair with dye, our thinning hair with artificial curls, our sagging breasts with armoured bras, hide our expanding waistlines underneath long potato sack linen blouses, the list goes on.

When I mentioned this fact to a friend a few weeks ago, she said we have to learn to accommodate ourselves to our changing body. This notion of accommodating something or someone reminded me of something my mother told me many years ago.

My mother, now 77 years old, said, in her generation a woman married one man and then woke up in bed with another. The Canadian women of those days tended to marry their Prince Charming. Their Hero. Someone who promised to save them from being an old maid; swept them away from their restrictive parental homes; promised them that they would never have to go out and work; make babies with them; and basically assured them a happy and contented life.

Eventually though, they’d wake up one morning and there lying beside them was Mr. Warts-And-All instead of Prince Charming. Then they were faced with the task of getting to know and, hopefully, love this new person. Sometimes the women were lucky, sometimes not.

My mother said they learnt to “accommodate” themselves. She would say this as if I, a young single woman at the time, could understand what this meant. (I assumed it had something to do with sex, and, like most young women, did not want to think of my parents having sex, or any other middle-aged people either.) Now, thirty years later, I still don’t quite know what she meant with “accommodating”. Did it have to do with fitting in and compliancy or more with adaptability and willingness?

The children of these marriages were very conscious when their fathers, Mr. Wart-And-All, didn’t measured up in the eyes of their mothers. They made their resentment known about how their Prince Charming vanished and left an unwelcomed stranger behind.

And knowing this made me realise that I do not want Nomad Son or Nature Girl, and especially Nature Girl, to think that I carry any resentment towards my aging body. What I’d like is to learn is how to accommodate my new, evolving pre-, post-, right-in-the-midst-of-things menopausal body. Is it impossible for me to look at Ms. Wart-And-All and say, this is exactly as I would have it? For, no matter what type of body I might dream of having at this point in my life, I wouldn’t change one little detail of my being… it is a dear old, wise old, cranky old love of mine.

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