Is it ok to be jealous of my beautiful daughters?
I am getting old. My daughters are not. Yes, I understand the whole cycle of life thing, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. The human body has built-in obsolescence and it pisses me right off. Whilst I am drying up and drooping, my girls are blossoming.
Is it OK to be a little bit jealous of my daughters?
At five feet eleven, my fourteen-year-old is already exceptionally tall for her age. She seems to have stretched entirely from the waist, which is tiny and taut and difficult to ignore because it’s always on show. On the rare occasion I’m allowed to wrap my arms around her I can touch my elbows, when she reaches around me, and I do mean reach, her hands can just about clasp. It’s not that I’m vast, I exercise and watch what I eat…and that’s another thing, the eating…
‘Is there any more?’ I hear her ask as the spoon scrapes up the last of a massive helping of ice cream.
If I so much as licked the spoon I’d put on a stone and a half but, my two daughters seem to be able to mainline sugar and fat with no effect. I’m sure I was the same at their age, but that’s not the point.
In my teens I was trying to replicate the pastel coloured make-up Pepsi and Shirley wore as they gyrated behind Wham! The heavily distorted image paused on our Betamax didn’t have quite the same detail as the HD quality makeup tutorials kids are treated to today on their iPads. The twenty something vloggers are richer than Bill Gates because of the hours our youngsters spend worshipping at the Temple of Mac. No green mascara for today’s acolytes. No ‘drugstore makeup’ at all.
I watch in awe as, even at fourteen, my eldest applies her makeup lightly and beautifully. She shakes her head at my Neanderthal efforts, ‘You shouldn’t blend foundation with your fingers,’ I’m told, ‘And that’s not how you use bronzer, it’s for contouring, blusher is for the cheek apple.’ Who knew? At least those comments are helpful, unlike the time she told me my eyebrows were exactly the same shape as the sperm in her Biology textbook.
My younger daughter is desperate to grow up and it breaks my heart. At ten years old she has the thick, lustrous eyelashes of a cartoon pony and dark wavy hair that falls in ringlets down her back. Everyone says he looks like her dad, because she does, to which she replies, ‘Great, I look like a fifty-year-old bloke with a beard.’ It’s good to keep her in her place, or is it?
My Mum denies ever being jealous of her 3 daughters, either she’s just much nicer than me (likely), or I’m plainer than I think (also likely). When I was young various family members told me I looked like a stick of liquorice because I was so skinny and always wore black. Apparently, my mascara was ‘like spider’s legs’ and my pale lipstick made me ‘look like a corpse.’ I survived, self-esteem intact, but in a world where eating disorders and self-harm are common, I am loath to quell any vanity with derision – although a gentle ribbing can’t hurt, surely?
My jealousy is also tinged with pity. I know all too well this flush of youth will pass, those calories will stick, and that makeup will congeal into the inevitable creases of time. I want them to enjoy their toned bodies and fresh faces, and to remain as children for longer than they deem fit. I must also keep my jealousy a secret, not only because it makes me mean-spirited, but because it gives a weight to their beauty beyond its worth. I try very hard to be a mum who tells them they’re clever and funny, who values kindness and honesty way above any physical traits. Personality and character beat good looks every time.
I hope that my hint of jealousy is born of admiration for my daughters’ youth, strength and potential. That I can watch them flower into the gorgeous young women they are already promising to be and accept that I am getting older, but I’m not dead yet and along with my double chin and muffin top I’ve grown wiser and more tolerant and that has a beauty of its own, right?