When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out til quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?
or something a bit more modern and a bit more chilling…
Will you still love me
When I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?
It’s a bit agonizing to think about. These thoughts have been haunting me the last few weeks, and will likely continue to haunt me to my wedding day and for the rest of my life. When the beauty fades, the skin sags, the brain addles, the eyes cloud – what’s left to love? If you thought girls in their teens have self esteem issues, what happens when women hit menopause or retirement? The estrogen levels decrease, the facial hair grows in but the hair on your head falls out. What is left to make a girl feel beautiful? What is left for a girl in her 60s to feel validated and loved?
I know a woman in her late 60s – she’s been a stay-at-home-mom for over 35 years, closely and tenderly raising 3 boys, who are now strapping, strong young men, any woman would be proud to call sons. They love and defend her fiercely. One day, while getting ready for a festive formal event, she pulls from her closet a few of her old outfits – Vietnamese dresses or Áo dài, a few floor length gowns that are outdated but still lovely, and a few other accessories from decades ago. She runs her fingers over the embellishments and stitching, marveling at how small her waist use to be, how thin her arms were, how petite were her shoulders. As she does so, her husband, looks over and warns her to put the items away – she would look atrocious in them! The words sting, but can she disagree? She notes the dimples in her arms, the thickness around her waist and hips, the fullness of her thighs – he’s right. Time has not been kind to her. And yet there was her husband – in his 60s as well, but still climbing that corporate/social ladder, still running every day, still biking and tennis, still the spitting image of health and vitality. Time has not been kind. She tucks away the finery in their garment bags in the deepest corner of her closet. She settles on a nondescript black suit, ill-fitting and lumpy – better to hide herself in. She completes the look with a pair of lackluster black clogs – low to the ground and matching the rest of her ensemble. An ensemble she deeply wishes does not repulse her husband.
This is not the fate I want for myself, or for any woman. I use to think all those self-esteem issues disappeared after high school. Then when I got to college/post-college, I realized that most women still carry that with them. And I’ve been told by friends in their late 20s and 30s with children, that it doesn’t stop – having children will throw a woman into all sorts of self-esteem conundrums. Then there’s menopause. It never ends.
Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Source: Creme de la Crumb
½ c butter, softened
4 tbs pumpkin puree
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cup flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light & fluffy. Add the pumpkin, eggs and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix just until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350*F. Roll out balls of dough the size of a walnut and roll each ball in a shallow dish of granulated sugar. Place on baking sheet and use a tall glass to flatten the dough balls to about 1/2 inch thick discs. Bake for about 12-14 minutes until the edges crisp. These cookies are quite pale even when fully baked. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy as is or top with your favorite cream cheese frosting.
Just recently, I took the aforementioned women shopping with me. She picked up a few items and clearly liked a couple of them, but resigned to put them back on the rack for another trip. For another trip with her husband – she wanted her husband to feel comfortable with the fabrics and cuts she had chosen, to make sure he would not find them repulsive or aged or embarrassing. I silently fumed – I wanted so badly to say that it didn’t matter. As women, we should wear clothes that makes us feel wholesome and pretty and empowered. That’s not for any man to dictate. I wanted to yell at her husband for making her feel this way. I was enraged and yet so powerless at the same time. She’s been living like this for decades! No amount of me haranguing her would change her outlook. If this were me, I would rather be alone then suffer such indignation. Do all relationships end this way? Is this what old age looks like? I can’t be sure, but it sure as hell is terrifying. Is this what I have to look forward to when I’m 64?
Thanks for reading,