I’ll make a confession: I actually found the first grey hairs about 6 months ago. I put some color on to hide the fact that I’m turning grey as a donkey before I hit 25. When the color grows out about half an inch I start seeing the greyish hair again… Annoys me. I think aging with grace is a beautiful thing but I feel much to young for that at the moment!
Enigma posted about her birthday and that got me thinking. Aging is, in fact, something beautiful. I’m glad I’m not a kid anymore. I hope in 5, 10, 50 years I can look back and say “I’m glad I’m not 20 anymore!”. I think wrinkled skin has something beautiful about it and so does grey hair.
Our struggles, problems and lessons learned leave marks on our bodies, wrinkles, scars, a grey hair here and there. Having many of them is like a badge of experience. A medal of sorts.
I admire people who can tell stories about their lives. I remember listening to my mom telling us stories of her childhood in Europe. The picture she painted was vivid and exciting and whenever we sat down on cold evening to listen to her stories and sip hot chocolate the air smelled of old, long-lost times.
Living in Europe I have the chance to visit a lot of really old places and ruins. I love ruins and old houses. There’s a castle nearby which was built around 1100. I sometimes go there just to sit in the ruins and wonder who lived there and what happened there. I imagine scenes of medieval markets, kids playing games we forgot about. Scenes full of detail, like a girl and a boy secretly flirting in one corner, a little boy stealing some sweet bakery goods, a big woman slaughtering geese and so on. When I touch the stones I can’t help but wonder who else touched them, why they touched that stone and how their life went on.
And sometimes I wonder if, in 200 years, somebody else will come along and sit there wondering the same. Will he picture me sitting there, wondering why I was there? Will he wonder how I spent that day, week, the rest of my life?
I know for sure I ask these questions about myself, but that just makes me angry. Growing up I had such a secure vision of what my life would be like, obviously shaped by the teachings and beliefs I grew up with. I might have had interest in worldly jobs and careers, but I was sure I’d be married to a great man, he his help-meet, a housewife and mother. I was so sure that was my calling. And to be honest, that’s not the worst thing that can happen to anybody. A family should be a beautiful and fulfilling experience and if you can achieve that, what better purpose could you possibly put your life into?
I’m not talking the fundamentalist vision here. As a teen I had already dreamed of a rather secular version of family, where I could make decisions and not be under the authority of my husband but rather an equal partner with my own strengths. I wished for a man who would ask my advice and needed my support. And yes, I wished that he was a man who could cry and despair and then seek my comfort and strength, not suppress his emotions and act big and strong just for the sake of it.
When I left the movements I took these dreams with me in a little box, neatly folded up and hidden. I felt that I needed to change all my being and those dreams were not part of my new, worldly self. They couldn’t possibly be, after all one of the major reasons why I left was the fact that I did NOT want to get married – yet.
Just recently I realized how strong my longing for a family of my own is. Of course, not now, not at all cost. I want to settle things in my life and build something of my own before I even consider dating anybody. Call me nuts but I know that, for example, alcoholics are counseled not to start dating while recovering. I think that’s good advice for anybody who wants to break habits, change lifestyles, get out of depression or addiction. I still don’t want to stay dumb and muted like I was supposed to be. I want to educate myself so that I can go out and make my own money and support my husband and kids if need be.
A few months ago one of my friends, Daniel, visited me at the cafe I work at during his lunch break. We talked about a couple we know. The woman of those two has a much better job and the man is very content with it, so much that he in fact considers staying at home with the kids once they have them. My little fundamentalist demon voice laughed out loud and said “Why would a MAN do that?”. Daniel was a bit surprised by my half-mocking, half-shocked reaction. He said that both men and women were equally well equipped to raise kids, in different ways maybe, but still equally good for the children. And to top it all off, he said: “You know, if I was in his situation… why the heck not? There’s nothing more beautiful than raising your own kids and seeing them grow up each and every day. I don’t want to be a part-time dad, I want to be a really involved parent.” Now while I might have laughed at that couple at first this got me thinking, mostly because I really like and respect Daniel and pictured him as a very strong man.
Maybe it’s not that weird after all. Maybe men have the same desires to be a full-time parent. Maybe it troubles men more than I can understand that they miss out on the daily life of their kids. It must be hard to come home in the evening and hear all those great stories about funny events, first words, first steps, school events and everything else they couldn’t see. A story never lives up to actually being there. Maybe my dreams will be fulfilled in a way I never thought of: Ending up in a marriage where the man doesn’t have to be the alpha-provider to feel like a man, where I don’t have to feel guilty for working and not caring enough for the kids.
Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to figure out a way for myself, no matter how strange it looks to the people around me.