Mama, Make It Good

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I looked in the mirror this morning and thought, “Holy heck, you’ve been through it, sister.”

My youthful, fake-bake glow has faded and ironically feels phony to reapply in the dead of pretend winter. Pretend winter is an undefined period of time in northern Florida when it’s 55 degrees one day and 80 the next.

A pale and ashen, frizzy-haired, tired-eyed, middle-aged lady stares back at me. She looks vaguely familiar to a girl I once knew, who was not haggard from life as a single mother to teenagers and a six-year-old, athletic, Energizer Bunny of a boy.

That girl, let me tell y’all: she was “something else”, as we say in The South, capital “T” and “S”. That girl was young, beautiful, and optimistic.

In other words: completely clueless.

“Kybella. That’s what will make all this better. Kybella and a tummy tuck.”

I know it’s a lie, but I Google Kybella and tummy tuck just in case they’re being given away free on Facebook.

A girl can dream, gosh dangit.

The first comment on a plastic surgery thread went something “kinda” like this, “I got Kybella and ended up with a fat pouch and a weird dimpling the size of Oklahoma on my chin. Looks like a chicken did the Dougie. If they don’t know what they’re doing, you could really end up with a problem.”

Well, thanks for nothing, Sue Ellen from Texas. You’ve ruined my day and provided no alternatives. Useless.

There were entire encyclopedias of praise for tummy tucks. But, I would have to sell all my furniture, half my car, and live on beanie weenies. I’m thinking it’s a small price to solve all my problems. I log this in my mental reminders and pray to the Great Mega Multiplier in the Sky. He knows the need.

I’ll admit to getting the occasional Botox injections, which do nothing more than project the lie that I am well-rested and 39 and three-quarters years old. Two months later, I’m 45 again, and my brow is furled like Ludwig van Beethoven’s. A good scowl does come in handy when making the “Mom disapproves” face. Especially with teenagers that inherited their mother’s “zest for life” and mastery of the English language.

I guess I could get some Tabby cats and a ratty robe and grow old properly like Maxine. Maybe I’d be more fun at parties if I had a full-blown gossip-worthy persona. I’m usually too tired for a party anyway, so I’ll keep savin’ for plastic surgery and sittin’ on this porch monitoring folks running the stop sign…like I was put on this earth to do.

We’re all called to something.

You see, friends, I’m on the fifty side of 40 now. Where I’m closer to 50 than I am to 40. I sound kind of crotchety about it, but let me send you a postcard from life over here: it is a dang good place to be.

Especially as a Mama.

By the time you’re this age, life’s events do begin to leave lasting impressions on your face and around your eyes, but there’s a mystical, rather divine, trade-off. With enough therapy, your Give-A-Darn breaks down, and your Good Sense settles in. You see, if you’re paying attention and you’re lucky to live this long, The Wisdom Years kick off, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the Botox in Beverly Hills.

The beginning came the year I turned 40. I had no idea the yellow cake and chocolate frosting deliciousness that was coming to me.

To some, it may sound like I have given up or I’m letting go, but “rising above” is a closer definition of my new-found state of mind.

You see, the older you get, the more life you get to experience, and the more days you simply get to breathe that good ole salt air into your lungs. If you let it, every year has gifts and challenges that give you the discernment to distill down what’s most important.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll probably always want to look my best, and I still want my children to live up to their full potential. I’m sure in two months, you’ll snicker at my plot hole when I’m mad about walkin’ a full parking lot at Publix or something else just as stupid.

But the older I get, the more my priorities shift, and my gratitude is immense just for being healthy and alive. It’s another new year full of opportunities for you to collapse with despair or choose happiness. I resolve to fight really hard to choose happiness and joy.

Here are some other resolutions that will never leave me feeling like a failure:

I resolve to remember that my flawed body created three pretty exceptional human beings.

I resolve to remember years of good memories (and lessons learned) are responsible for the Crow’s feet forming around my eyes.

I resolve to let my children see their Mama laugh and enjoy life.

I resolve to continue going to the gym…for my health.

I resolve to teach my kids habits that will make their lives fulfilling and equip them with independence for a day when I’m no longer here.

I resolve to love my people as best I can and give their shortcomings over to the Grace Giver Extraordinaire. (I sure as heck need ‘em to do it for me.)

I resolve not to miss the little acorn in the forest, for the hardwood trees planted by someone else.

I resolve to cultivate my own garden in the hopes it will produce life-giving fruit.

And most of all, I resolve to just be grateful for today.

If your New Year Mirror reflects that you’ve been through it, too, stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, and give a wide-eyed smile at the beautiful scars and age lines staring back.

Because unlike some of our sister friends, we’ve been given another un-promised, full-of-potential, not yet determined, irreplaceable, twenty-four-hour gift of a day.

Mamas, let’s be grateful and make it good.


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Dana is a mother to high-schoolers Rowan and Arden, and Pierson (a first-grader). Although she is an Arkansas native, she has been a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast, since age nine, when her mother moved to Destin; she’s been a Pensacola resident for the last 13 years. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. A degree in Journalism from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!) developed it further. In addition to writing, she loves photography, doodling, and painting. She is always up for a new adventure, especially in the great outdoors. She can’t live without Jesus, Diet Coke, funny memes, flair pens, or mascara, and loves personality tests (she’s a 1w9 and an I/ENFJ, ambivert). Her life is dictated by what she whispers to herself every morning, “You’ve only got this one precious life.”

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