Lost in the clouds soaked in pink and orange hues from the newly risen sunrise I almost bumped into Jake looking at an old tree stump. Looking down into the center he said, “So that’s what the inside of a tree looks like mom.” Just as quickly as he looked down he was off to explore the creek. Standing there looking at the stump I was taken back by the growth rings of the tree. In a science class years earlier I remembered learning that each growth ring represented a year of the tree’s life. Counting 10 rings the rest began to fade and blur a bit.
The growth rings remind me of the wrinkles upon our faces and our parents and our grandparents faces. Each wrinkle has a year behind it and we can count them but we will lose count for they fade and begin to blur a bit. Those wrinkles, crow’s feet and laugh lines symbolize our many years. So many people want to erase them, botox and fill them in so that they can gain the years back or look like it. It is difficult to deal with aging especially as a woman in the U.S. The general public usually doesn’t care if a man ages or grays he becomes distinguished and respected. Let a woman age naturally, gray showing and oh now there’s something to talk about! Our culture values youth and beauty when we should revere age and wisdom.
We should be proud of our “growth rings”. Each wrinkle we have acquired came from a significant time in of our lives. Wrinkles on our brow from waking quickly to run and get the crying baby. Crow’s feet around our eyes from squeezing them so tightly when we knew we could not catch our child before they fell and we did not want to see it. Laugh lines about our cheeks from endless laughter from all of the crazy little things our children have done through out the years that we should discipline but can’t help laughing at with our spouse. Wrinkles all over our faces from the times we squeeze our faces worried and praying that our teens make it home every time they pull that car out of the driveway. Baggy eyes from the unending up all night with the baby or praying that the struggles of our children will somehow be resolved. Permanent lines where the permagrin (permanent grin from something extremely good) is from watching our children succeed at school, sports and life in general. Each wrinkle each misshaped bump in our skin representing our parenting should be remembered as growth and valued for having been given the gift of parenting. They should not be devalued as less than beautiful. What is more precious than a life well lived, lived to the fullest.
So today when you see an older person notice the wrinkles and reflect on the life he/she has lived and where they have come from. Smile at that person for he/she has grown and deserves the respect that should come from living, aging and loving others. Look in the mirror today and instead of disliking the obvious aging, appreciate the lines for they have formed who you have become a mom; who worries, prays, laughs and loves your children like no one else ever could. Do not botox the memories from your face instead embrace your age and wisdom for they are gifts given to you from God. In all parts of our lives we grow and mature and there is no shame in revealing our growth rings to the world for they are precious gifts.