Posted by: learningwoman | November 28, 2007

Through someone else’s eyes

Seeing myself through sixteen year old eyes was a jolt!

My niece was here for Z’s Birthday yesterday, with her brother and my sister-in-law.

When they came, I was just finished putting out the food, icing the cake, getting the table ready. I had icing sugar on my clothes, hair falling out of a ponytail, the shirt I’d been wearing all day, no make-up. Either they were early or I was running late, either way, I immediately felt self-conscious next to their freshly made-up, beautifully dressed selves.

I haven’t seen them for a few months and I would have chosen to be more put together than I was but Ho Hum, I had a two year old’s party to think about πŸ™‚

So, later, over cake, we were talking about an older, widowed relative, who seems to have found new love, when my beautiful, slender niece said earnestly;

“Yes, but what’s the point?”

“What do you mean?” I asked

“Well, you know… his age….” (He’s 78 )

I laughed. “I’m pretty sure you don’t stop needing love and tenderness just because you get old. I know what you mean though. When I was your age, I remember seeing a woman in a magazine saying she’d like to lose weight before she turned 40 and I thought; “Why? What’s the point?”

I looked up to find my lovely niece nodding. “Yeah!”

Now, since I’m nearly 38 and overweight myself, this was a pretty severe blow to my ego.

I go along in my life, understanding that it’s in process, unfolding, interesting and rich in love and new experiences and then I see it through sixteen year old eyes.

Without the experience that life brings, a sixteen year old’s judgement is uncluttered by knowledge of compromise, balance, the occasional sacrifice for love etc…

And with a sinking heart, I remembered just how judgemental I was at that age and how black and white my judgements were. For an instant I saw myself as she must see me and I felt sad.

After they’d left, A. had gone out and the kids were in bed, I did what I always do when I have some nebulous, unquiet feeling.

I rang my mother.



  1. Understood. Not only have I grown fatter, grayer and wrinklier, I’ve also become more conservative.

    Me at sixteen would have mocked me at 42.

    Can I call your mother?

  2. D’accord. As one of my children pointed out only the other day: ‘mummy you come from the olden days don’t you?’ Thank god for mothers…

  3. πŸ™‚ Mothers rock!

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