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I had lunch the other day with a new friend from my meditation circle. I was excited about this particular outing because Sherry is about 10-15 years younger than me. I like having a diversity of friends, both in interests and ages.

Friends who are a bit older can give great advice about what’s to come as children leave the nest, bodies begin to change and age, and husbands start talking about retirement. Younger friends remind me that there was a “me” before my name changed to “mom,” and that life is as busy, fulfilling and focused as we choose to make it.

I told my daughter that morning on the phone that I was going to meet with a new, younger friend for lunch, and by the way: isn’t that just so cool of her middle-aged mother? 

Lunch was great. Sherry and I shared our histories and learned a lot about each other in that quick lunch hour. As we were starting to depart, I pointedly asked her age: Was she 40? 41?

She gave me a quizzical look, laughed a bit and told me she was 48. I don’t know if my jaw made a sound as it hit the table, but I was shocked into silence as I considered this information. “You’re 48? You’re only 8 years younger than me?” I asked.

Let me tell you readers: Sherry looks great. She looks great for 40 or 41. But she looks amazing for 48. 

Was it the long hair? The lack of grey? The dangling earrings? Possibly all of that, but even more to my mind, it was the lack of wrinkles on her face that caused me confusion.

As I pondered this reality over the next few days, and peered into the mirror at my crow’s feet and cavernous lines around my mouth, I started to think about what may have made the difference between Sherry and me. And of course, there can be only one certain reason: children! Sherry has no children. 

Mothers wear their children on their faces. Each wrinkle recalls a night with a sick child. Or a teen’s missed curfew. Laugh lines brought on by the inappropriate sounds coming from a ten-year-old boy on the way to school or his sister’s love of puns and funny phrases. Or the frowns and laugh lines (at the same time!) that settle in when leaving your first-born for the first time at her college dorm.

Each of my wrinkles tells a story, and trust me, there are a thousand chapters etched on my face since my children were born more than two decades ago. 

So I’m definitely going to ask Sherry about her choice in face cream and then stock up. And I’ll continue to avoid the sun’s harshest rays, on the days when I remember to think about it.

But I’m also going to look at each wrinkle, frown line, and laugh line and send silent thanks to my wonderful children for the multitude of stories they gave me that are now permanently etched on my face.

Teri Merrill

Teri Merrill has been writing professionally since 1982. She has recently been writing for her town newspaper.

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