Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recipe for Aging

I had a dream the other night that my hair was falling out in clumps. According to my Google search, this means I am currently obsessed with aging. Spot on, Google.

In pictures recently I've noticed, not happily, an increase in the lines that appear on my face. For the first time in my life I understand why people head to the plastic surgeon as they age, and I have new appreciation for Photoshop de-aging tools. If only I knew how to use them to gain back some youth...

My parents have always looked younger than their ages, and I've taken for granted that I was blessed with anti-aging genes that would maintain my appearance well into my golden years. I didn't account for the toll that twinlife and tenure track would take on my body.

Pictures of the youthful me pre-pregnancy reveal clearly that in the last five years I have aged. In the last 12 months the aging process has hit warp drive. My first clue that I had crossed the threshold into my mid thirties, both in age and in appearance, came last spring when my mom received a compliment from a stranger - at my expense. Though she has often been complimented when we are together that she could not possibly be old enough to be my mother, this compliment was different. The woman offering it suggested that we had to be sisters; I was clearly too old to be her daughter. The shift in terminology, though seemingly small, captures my fear that I am indeed looking older. My wish that my brother would photoshop nearly every close up picture that is taken of me confirms that I am changing.

Though my current obsession with the lines on my face uncovers my vanity, it also makes me reflect on why I have aged so much so fast. Parenting will do it to a person. Twin parenting, and 18+ months of sleeplessness, kicked it into overdrive. Work, where the load and pressures have increased dramatically in the last 18 months, has added unlimited fuel to the aging fire.

My friend has decided to leave her job temporarily to stay at home with her two children. As we chatted the other day, talking about her toddler and her infant, she mentioned that she felt she had missed a year of her older child's life. The stresses of work, family, and her second pregnancy dominated her life during that time. We also acknowledged how we both felt like we worked two jobs - one outside the home, and one that filled nearly every non-career hour. It's exhausting, and, apparently, it's a recipe for wrinkles.

I'm not planning to leave my job, though I have already scaled back on my PD commitments. I've taken more liberties with the word "no" when I'm asked to do something professionally. I'm reconsidering the 16 hour days I put in on my commute/teaching days. I will keep trying to find the balance, and maybe in the process I will find a fountain of youth. I know for sure that I won't be visiting a plastic surgeon ---but maybe I will carve out some time to learn how to use photoshop. ;)