I’m not generally very superstitious.  This is good.  Because if I REALLY believed that breaking a mirror caused seven years of bad luck, I wouldn’t be leaving the house for the next, oh….twenty one years or so.  Backing over my own makeup case in the driveway and finding a mess of glass shards and squashed tubes of gunky makeup-y stuff at the bottom of it over the weekend was probably unlucky enough.

How many mirrors do you own?  Go to your own makeup case and count.

I never realized, until this mishap, how many I had.  Every compact has a tiny one, and I’m lost without my magnifying mirror.  I’m almost 52. I need a lot of magnification for the weekly hunt for the dreaded Menopause Mole Whisker.    My need for mirrors at this age is becoming much less about vanity and more about public service.   I’m actually pretty okay with my face.  I just want to be able to see the things I don’t really want OTHERS to see and be kind of grossed out by.  And so, I need mirrors.  And good light.

What do women show about themselves at any age?

When we are young and just learning how to be women,  it’s all about smoke and mirrors.  We project an image..an illusion.  We are conditioned to this carnival trick and get good at it. As a result, we  never really see each other or ourselves accurately.  We go to college believing that the girl down the hall we meet during orientation.the one with the long blonde hair and clear skin has it all.    She gets the captain of the team and seems to have it together while we stand before the mirror of our own lives picking critically at the image reflected back.  But because we are friends with the Girl Who Has It ALL and because we love her, we hate ourselves for resenting her.  What we don’t know, can’t know, is that her life is full of the same light and smoke and mirrors.  The same pain.  The same fears.  What we see isn’t always the whole picture of any woman’s life..at 18.  Or middle age. Or any age.

Some of us are blessed with friendships that span the years of marriages and children and divorces and all of the rest and arrive in the Year of the Mole together,  where we make the mutual decision to crush the mirrors into fine, sparkling, silvery dust.   And when we are done, we get to get really, really real over good wine shared on a porch.  We sit shoulder to shoulder, tired but relieved.  Our collected hopes sorted through. Our shared fears and old hurts released at last…watching them rise like smoke rings on a soft evening in the autumn of our lives.

Thou Shalt Not Hover

Okay….I’m fine.  Really.

The house is quiet.  The kitchen is clean.   I’m reading a book on how not to be a helicopter parent.  It is a preventative measure… like sunscreen and dental floss. The author of the book writes that parents of college age children should strive to become “consultants” to their children.   We should be available to help them help themselves and not try to solve their problems for them.

I can do that.

Yesterday I watched as couples filed out of the field house where we’d just said the final goodbye to our freshmen and  were advised by the college dean of students to “back off” and let our kids “figure it out” for themselves.  Apparently those of us in the Baby Boomer generation are having. a. little. trouble. letting. go.   As we exited,  cute, perky young women  were handing out packages of tissues to parents.  Interestingly, more of the dads were in need of these than moms.  It was a dark and maudlin affair, let me tell you. Fathers snuffling…mothers walking next to them tight lipped and stoic. Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” was playing loudly with strobe lights and the bass turned way up.

“If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it..If you liked it then you shouda put a ring on it…”

Okay, so maybe the dads were crying about other things…

I think that I will choose not to hover.  I’ve watched birds do that, and it looks like a lot of work.  Even though they are quite capable, that treading air has to make their wings really tired.  Birds, and moms, should use their wings for other things.

Like flying.

The temptation, of course,  is to use our wings to shelter the ones we love..to protect them from the big world.

Which works great for a time, but then starts to feel more like smothering.

Or we flap them like mad, driving away the neighborhood dog who is creeping too closely..

Which works about half the time.  Not good odds.

So instead of pretending to be a giant hovercraft I will choose

to use my wings to fly

up, up, up…..

And watch, from my perch, to see how things turn out.

I’m optimistic tonight.

She’s been doing wing strengthening exercises her whole life.

So have I.