(finding parenthood painfully funny)
Photo: Nicole Blaine Family Archives
“After breastfeeding and pumping for three cumulative years, my nipples permanently face different directions. I have found my first three gray hairs—on my vagina.”
Time keeps ticking. I stare at my reflection. I see a different face in the mirror. An old face. Middle aged. Thirty-nine years, two months, and two days old, to be exact. Not 40.
I remember being eleven and spraying a full bottle of the ’80s magic cure-all, Sun-In, into my suddenly browning hair. I was blonde up until that moment. That was my first unwanted change and I was horrified. How could my body betray me? I’m the little blonde girl! With a twinkle in my big green eyes. Freckles generously sprinkled across my nose. And bangs that will forever be repeatedly cut and grown out throughout my life depending on the latest trends I keep missing. As I entered judgemental junior high school, I was not about to succumb to a physical shell of boring brunette. Not without a fight.
On my first day of junior high I walked to school in my brand new flea-market wardrobe extraordinaire: pleather knock-off Keds (with little blue rectangles my mom had drawn on with a marker to make them look legit); khaki, high-waisted shorts with two belts; a white v-neck; and a vest with four patches all swimming with different bright patterns. I disguised my anxiety by flipping my long locks of Oompa Loompa orange hair—thanks, Sun-In, for nothing—over my shoulder. Getting older sucks.
After growing up as a theater kid, playing “fourth from the left” in every musical my grade schools produced, I graduated college with a theater degree and a gym membership. I was off to become the next Jennifer Aniston. (Lucky for me, everyone knows she doesn’t wake up looking like Rachel Green. It takes hours of hair and makeup, Pilates and Smart Water.) I’ve got this! I bounced off to my first professional headshot photoshoot, complete with a famous photographer and hair and makeup artists. The next week I held the sealed envelope of picture proofs in my sweaty palms. I settled in and unzipped the windows in my parked Jeep Wrangler. Flipped on “Unbelievable” by EMF. This would be the moment I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I would look beautiful. Sexy. Like Jennifer Fucking Aniston.
I ripped open the envelope. I stared at the dozens of squares filled with … me. Me. Where was Jennifer Aniston? I flipped to the next sheet. And the next. All just … me. Tears hit the pictures with weight. I brushed away their magnifying effect. It was the last thing I needed.
Fast forward. My body gained 50 pounds when I was pregnant. Both times. I’ve had to do a lot more than Pilates and Smart Water to shed that baby weight. After breastfeeding and pumping for three cumulative years, my nipples permanently face different directions. I have found my first three gray hairs—on my vagina.
I just “celebrated” my 39th birthday. I stare at my reflection. This is the last year of my 30s. My forehead is covered with deep lines. My eyes framed with crows’ feet. My freckles covered in age spots. My eyelashes have mysteriously shrunk. Bangs officially make me look like my mother. In fact, I get away with using her Costco card. I thought junior high was bad? What I wouldn’t give to get back in that Jeep, rip open that envelope, and see that vibrant face, charged with hope and youth.
I stare deeper into my own green eyes. I wish I had appreciated myself. My body, my face. I look at my eight-year-old daughter. I see myself. I look at my 64-year-old mother. I see myself. I see my own reflection. I see laugh lines. I see the twinkle in my green eyes. This is the youngest and most beautiful I will ever be. I appreciate today. And for now, I will appreciate being a middle-aged brunette. I can only hope I can look in the mirror 39 years from now and appreciate the young, beautiful woman who smiles back at me.
For more information on Nicole Blaine or to see her perform stand-up: www.NicoleBlaine.com