The Awakening – A Fictional Short Story From a Woman’s Perspective – Written by a Man

When does that day come when you wake up and look in the mirror to see a stranger looking back at you? That day when what you once saw yourself as, is no longer looking back at you in the mirror? Does it creep up on your gradually or is it one day you wake up and see a stranger looking back at you? For me, I guess, it was a gradual process, without me really catching the signs. That is, until that day I looked into my partners face in the wee morning hours before he awoke to think to myself, “When did he start to age”. It was not even a month ago he looked as young as the day we met, or was it longer? What has taken over the face of the love of my life? It was then when I realized, oh my, I wonder how many mornings he watched on while I slept and wondered the exact same thing.

I quick sprang out of the bed, made a mad dash to the bathroom, and threw on the light only to be met with that same look I saw in my partner’s face. I was shocked, to say the least, but how could I be surprised? I mean, really, I haven’t given my skin as much of a second thought. I always thought that was for old people to do and although 45 and only feeling old on some days, I had not doomed myself to a cane just yet. However looking back at me in my own mirror was a woman who was looking every bit of her age, plus some. I had to do something and do it fast. Age was not treating me well.

I realized just then I should have listened to my mother when she had warned me that being all golden tan was not all it was cracked up to be, however it made me feel confident when I was sporting the darkest tan in the room. I should have listened to her when she told me everyone, especially woman, should take care of her skin and have his or her own personal skin care routine. All that exfoliating and rejuvenating she had been doing for as long as I could remember I thought was silly. A waste of time, something I need not concern myself until I was older, and much older at that. Today my mother could tell me, “I told you so!”

I had watched my mother for years, since I was a young child, daily wash her face, moisturize, and do various other things to it as well. Now I sit, beating my brains in, trying to recall what she was doing. She use to perform her morning and evening rituals and talk to me about women and responsibilities, explaining what all she was doing and for the life of me I could not recall exactly anything she had said, except that our skin is a gift and we should treat it as such. That it was God’s natural armor and we should treat it as such, naturally, lovingly, and gentle. However, what I saw sure didn’t look natural to me, all that goop she was applying and scrubbing she had done. Then I recall her face last week at our customary Sunday dinner. She didn’t look a day over 50 at her ripe 72 years of age and here I stand looking 60 at a mere 45 years of age. When did I start to look older then my mother?

I rummage through my bathroom closet looking for anything that remotely looked like it was going to turn back time and make my face look fresh and young again and pull out a few items I had purchased after seeing commercials on TV. Some cream for under my eyes for those nights I stayed up a bit too late and woke with bags and circles under them as well as a fancy little bottle of some face cream that was suppose to do who knows what. It had been so long ago that I had purchased it, I had totally forgotten I had even had it, however, both were advertised on TV during Primetime, so they had to work, I thought to myself. So, I quickly wash my face while I showered with my normal shower gel and proceed to dress and dab on as my mother did some of my eye cream and the moisturizer. I throw on my makeup to disguise my age even more so before my partner woke. Now, at least looking alive, and not quite near as bad as I did when I first took a gander, I made a mental note to set a lunch date with my mother, it was time we had the “talk”, the skincare talk.

I awake my husband and he is none the wiser to my facial demise, or at least he is being polite enough not to mention it. I believe the later to be true. I consider saying something to him, however, him being a manly man, I doubt he nearly cares as much as I that without his knowledge, age has crept up on him as well. I never recall my father messing with his face; however, it is not as if I sat in the bathroom with my father while he got ready for work or before he retired for the evening. Mental note made to ask my mother if dad had a secret skincare routine as well, because my husband now was pushing looking my father’s age and only 5 years my senior.

Lunch date with Mom . . .

The first thing out of my mother’s mouth was, “Elizabeth, I had warned you. You never have listened to me, have you? I tried to set a good example for you. Why do you think I always talked to you about my skincare routine?” I meekly respond with “I know now Mother and I wish I had listened, but I just thought…” and my voice trails away knowing I have been beat, by not only my mother but my skin as well. My mom went on to tell me about my skin, how it is the largest organ on my body and works in a similar fashion as my liver and kidneys. No way, it is only skin, it is not inside me, surly this is my mothers “scared skin care straight” routine. However, this time I did not merely zone out on her as in the past, I listened and the more she talked the more she made sense. I was relieved to hear when she told me it was not too late, that there was still hope for me, that although I would never look near as great as her (her lovely little I told you so jab) that I could reverse some of those signs of aging.

My mother went on to talk to me about natural versus chemicals and about what I put on my face today was not the right approach. She told me not to feel bad though, that many people buy into the hype they see on TV and assume since it is on TV that it should work. She told me if I didn’t want my skin to rebel against me any further, to throw away the chemical based skin care products and purchase only natural ingredient products. She told me the first step in my skincare routine was making an appointment at her spa and getting a total spa facial. She strongly urged me to listen to the aesthetician. I asked my mom exactly what products she used and she jotted down a couple of her favorites, made with lycopene, this amazing natural hydrator, and told me that her spa sold them so to make sure I didn’t leave without them. I promised her I would not. I knew I needed help, and needed it quick.

Before leaving my insightful lunch date with my beautiful mother, I asked her, “Mom, does dad do anything?” Mom responded with “What do you mean does your father do anything? Of course he does a lot of things”. “No, mom”, I said, “I mean to stay looking young. He still looks great too and well…” “Oh, you mean does your father have a skin care routine. Yes honey, as a matter of fact he does,” she said. She went on to say, “He would never admit to it mind you; however men can be just as vain as women sweetie. Why do you ask?” I went on to tell my mom about my revelation about my husbands face when I woke and how it made me realize I too have aged somewhere along the way , and how I wondered how he would react if I mentioned it to him or if there was a better approach.

My mother, in all her wisdom, went on to tell me how she managed to get my father to begin a regular skin care routine without really giving it a second thought or questioning her. Mom said she simply started adding products to the bathroom counter that were 100% natural skin care products so they would be readily available to him should he choose to use them. She said one morning during their normal coffee time, my father had commented on how lovely my moms’ skin had looked. Mom said she thanked him but also told him she had her skincream to thank. Next thing she knew she said was that her supplies were gradually going down quicker then before and she started to see her husband grow younger before her eyes. No words have ever been discussed about the use, it is just a given that my mom now buys for two rather then herself when picking up her skincream. My next stop on my agenda is my mom’s spa to treat myself to a facial, pick up some natural skincream for my husband and me, and to start the new beginning of my life with a younger looking face.