People are always spouting life truisms. You know, like when you are struggling in college and they tell you, "This is nothing; life in the real world is so much harder." Or when you're pregnant and they say, "Your life will never be the same after you have kids." Or when you are tearing your hair out as a parent and they say, "Watch, you will miss all this craziness some day; the time goes by so fast."
Luanne Roberts Billstein, a 55-year-old mother of four from Toledo, Ohio, recently posted one of those life truisms about aging on Facebook that just came true for her. You know the one: "One day you will look in the mirror and not recognize the person you see."
It's a harsh one, alright, and for many of us who much prefer hearing "you don't look your age" or "I can't believe you're 60 years old," we don't really believe that our mirrors will suddenly and abruptly betray us. But at some level, we know they do -- just like we know that our college years were easy compared to what came after, and our lives indeed were never the same once our children entered them, and how those same kids who pushed our buttons also broke our hearts when they left for college.
Here's what Billstein wrote: "It finally happened to me today -- you know, that thing that people who've 'been there,' very knowingly tell you will happen. They say that one day you will look in the mirror and be surprised that the person looking back at you looks older than you think of yourself."
It happened to Billstein on Sept. 1, 2014. "The old lady in the mirror has betrayed me," she said. "Today is the day that we don't match. She is older than I feel. It's strange, let me tell you."
"It was like a slap in the face," Billstein said, noting it didn't "hurt" as much as it was just "a huge surprise."
Billstein wasn't fishing for compliments when she posted it to Facebook; she wasn't asking people to assure her that she doesn't look her age (she doesn't). Sure she got a lot of that in comments, but that wasn't what she was reporting on her status update. What she was saying is that that day when we all eventually do age is real, is out there, is waiting for each and every one of us. It comes even when you feel younger than your years, even when you truly believe that age is just a number and that you are only as old as you feel -- all things that "they" say too.
Billstein says she feels younger "mainly because I often act silly and playful, am active physically, and I spend time around lots of younger people." She does a ton of volunteer work, fosters rescue dogs, works at her church and the daughters' school, does therapy with kids on horseback, runs an adoption support group, serves on the boards of two non-profits, and runs a "Dining for Women" chapter, as well as a zillion other things. Oh yeah, and she has a husband and four kids to take care of and worry about.
But still her mirror betrayed her. "I did a double take and then just felt resignation," she said. Aging of the physical body is caused by time -- no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Billstein did what we all do: She lightly pulled the skin back on her face to make it taut again and the sags and droops disappeared. "I liked what I saw better," she said, but even as her face quickly slipped back into place when she released it, she's not anywhere about to make changes through plastic surgery or Botox, she said.
And she added: "I do not hate that older lady in the mirror. I just don't feel like I am fully acquainted with her ... yet."