My mother says that when God was passing out hips and thighs, He gave her someone else’s.
Her sturdy lower half of her body just doesn’t quite fit her petite waist and slender shoulders. And I have inherited my mother’s body. The truth is that’s actually a pretty good thing. It means I was a fat baby, a skinny kid, and kept my fit teenage body all the way into mid-thirties. In fact, all three of my siblings and I looked like we were seventeen starting at the age of twelve until we were thirty-five. Well, now I am thirty-five.
I recently saw an old friend from high school who said that I finally look my age without the baby face. I suppose that’s a nice way of saying that it looks like I am aging. I always thought I would age gracefully, embracing each line on my face and every gray hair as a sign of wisdom. In reality, the wrinkles have inspired expensive skin cream and I am plucking out my silver strands one by one. This is not the kind of grace I had in mind.
And then there are my hips and thighs. Like my mother, my body from the waist down has always been sturdier than my slight upper body. At a lighter weight, I could make it blend reasonably well, but now, it’s as though my thighs are working hard to bust free of all my pants. Luckily, lengthy tunics and cardigans are in style right now.
Despite the battle with my hips and thighs, I am grateful for this body that my mother gave me. It’s healthy, which is the most important thing. It has allowed me to push it in running, biking, yoga, and swimming, all activities that help me feel more alive. After three and a half decades, it doesn’t give me pain or disability. I am an able-bodied individual. But the struggle to age gracefully is real and perhaps is also a gift. For struggles produce character and developed character is the bedrock for wisdom. And what’s the point in growing older if not to also grow wiser with more insight for oneself and others?
As the birthdays roll in year after year, we must all learn how to balance the blessing of each new year with the loss of our youth. For now, I will stick with my expensive skin cream and plucking my silver highlights all the while being grateful for this healthy body I got from my mama. On good days, I’ll even be grateful for those hips and thighs, sending them love for how they support me and lift me up. I’ll eat that cookie and go for that run, embracing the mixture of struggle and grace. I will breathe deeply, all the way through those heavier hips and thighs to the tips of my toes, and be grateful to be alive and for the gift and struggle of growing older.
About the Author: A curator of beauty, a steward of healing, and a seeker of light … Bridget is a writer, a midwife, and a full-time Ph.D. student. For Bridget, beauty, healing and light are interconnected and intermingle with the best life has to offer. When not writing, supporting expectant parents, or working on her research, she enjoys movement (yoga, running, biking, swimming), songs (writing music on her guitar), traveling (exotic places from Kentucky to India), and sipping hot cups of tea.