We could be two completely different species. From different worlds or even galaxies. Separated by centuries. Not a mother and her daughter, divided by a single generation. Because this is my mother when she was approaching her 60th birthday, and this is me right after mine.
In her image, my mother is unashamedly an old woman. I remember the day I took this picture of her, on vacation in Jersey in the summer of 1979. Mom had limped and limped to the beach, gallantly carrying our buns with butter. But even so she had the laugh when we lifted her from the sand at the end of the day.
I would no longer wear a bathing suit, nor would I put on sunscreen, before flying to the moon. Having had seven children, I did not want to look young or thin. In this photo, she already had a complete set of false teeth and gray hair. Normally, she wore glasses.
Liz Jones (pictured) is preparing to turn 60, she has the same size dress as when she turned 16.
Now look at the photograph of me. I have the same dress size as when I was 16 years old. You can say that I have dedicated my life not to raising a family, not to laughing, but to being "ready for the beach". The effort is engraved in my face. I'm anxious, too: do my arms look fat? My hair, dyed biweekly since the day I turned 25, looks crispy? I only have a half smile because, if I do not smile a little, my face falls off. My teeth are plated, they are not false. I do not limp; Instead, I walk and run, every day, for miles: something good, no doubt. But all I can think about when I look at the picture of me is my God, how exhausting and how desperately unhappy. That alone, too.
I was dreading my sixtieth (Wednesday was the big day) from the day I turned 50. It has risen, big and dark, like an empty tomb, because I'm afraid it will mean the death of everything I've tried: to be desirable, sexy, fashionable, in and certainly not. I do not want to be invisible. Really, I really do not want to be old. I do not want to start saying things like: "It's hotter than at night!"
I had always imagined that, when I turned 60, I would suddenly see myself as my mother, which terrified me. Now that I have arrived, I realize that what should have worried me was not like her, loved, happy, happy, not at all.
In the days before my birthday, I expected something to happen to avoid it: time could slow down. The world could end. It was not so.
I tried to buy in 60 the new 40, and how liberating it will be not to feel compelled by the wax of Hollywood, but the truth is that I know that I will keep fighting to keep the years at bay. Why? Because I'm not where I should be: I'm single, I'm not sure, I'm not loved. I can not relax. I have to keep trying.
My mother was born on December 23, 1919, and in the picture she is 60 years old. He has short gray hair that has never been dyed. It has a touch of red lipstick and a mask stain on an old block in which he had to spit. She is using a homemade turn, and her head is tilted towards the sun; it would never occur to him to hide from her.
His only concession to be on vacation is that he has removed his stockings (too darned) to expose legs that not only had never waxed, never shaved or even thought much.
Your toenails are not polished; He could not reach his feet at this stage, as he suffered from arthritis. My dad had to help with the stockings and place a reinforced shoe on each foot. You can not tell from the photo that he already had a hip and a knee replaced. She was in constant excruciating pain. And yet, she is smiling.
My mother had never heard of the preparation, except when applied to horses: her beauty routine extended to using Pond's cold cream and letting the makeup "wear out." She had never had a massage. She had a bag, a pair of shoes. She never drank water, immobile or with gas, but subsisted with Tea and Rich Tea cookies.
She never ate a ready meal or drank coffee from anything other than a cup. She never had a job, other than as a dinner lady in my elementary school, or a bank account. She never learned to drive. She never exercised after marrying, except for the endless expulsion and surfaces of Promises. She would not have dreamed of wasting time on herself.
Having endured rationing, she certainly never went on a diet. She never had a pair of sneakers, a tracksuit or jeans.
"Oh," he said, while we were sitting on that beach. "My arms are terrible!" But he did not think he could make an effort to be "prepared for the beach". It was just what she was. She knew that her husband did not love her less because he had aged. Unlike me, who lied in my CV about my birth date because, even at the end of my 30 years, I felt that it had happened, I had no shame over the course of time.
My mother and I are probably the last generation to have diverged so completely. She did not fear her birthdays, like me. She never mentioned the great Six-O or expected an uproar; she probably spent the night ironing.
I wonder what he would think of his teenage daughter, while I smeared sunscreen and Parasol hair products, and did endless squats, even on those vacations. I wonder what he thought when I fell into a depression at the age of 25, just because I had lost a quarter of a century. Or when I turned 30, still on the shelf, and I had a breast reduction. She must have thought I'm an alien in fact. She had no idea who I was.
I got a well-paying job, which meant I did not have time for children, let alone a husband.
When I was 40, I panicked, I lied about my age again, and I hurried to marry a younger man who cheated on me. When I told my mother what he had done, all she said was, "Just be patient, darling." It would not have occurred to her not to forgive, not wait for a man to provide her, drive her everywhere, read maps, book hotels and vacations, take care of her when she can no longer walk. When, returning from the breast surgery, I called my husband, he answered me with a distracted person: Who is it? & # 39; It is not only women who have changed; men have changed with us As we have demanded less, they gave up and backed off.
It seemed like a good idea at that moment, to be very different from my mother, to rebel against her lack of vanity, ambition, selfishness.
I was born just in time to surf the wave of self-improvement. I am ashamed to admit that I despised my mother and her uninspired life: the worn three-piece suites, the horrible porcelain, the even more hideous clothes of Marks.
I started buying things I did not want: cashmere sweaters, opera CDs, designer bags and scent. Moisturizer, tons of it. "I think that ship has sailed, darling, right?" She would tell me.
The journalist's mother (right) is far away from where Liz Jones was on her 60th birthday
And although my mother and I are different species, mothers of my age look exactly like their daughters: they speak the same Topshop language, Facebook, texts, box games, children. They go shopping for underwear together; I think my mother went to the grave without knowing that she was wearing a bra.
Maybe seeing an image of yourself in an expectant and bright adolescent face is what keeps you sane: there is no need to keep you in jelly because that's how I looked before!
I imagine, too, that having children makes you feel that you have achieved something, so you lose less the amount of candles in the cake. And because your children grow up, you must do it too.
Maybe my mother thought that I would receive advice about the love and relationships of my three older sisters, but they were too busy chasing the children to take care of me, the baby of the family.
Whatever the reason, I went into the world armed only with what I had obtained from the Cosmo magazines of my sisters. I looked down on the fact that my mother had to ask my dad for money for maintenance; that he could no longer bathe, since he could not enter or leave, and that he could only go & # 39; with a flannel often boiled.
Compare again the image of my mother with mine. My face, never exposed to the sun in case it turned into a plum, has been surgically lifted. Cellulitis hit. Cheeks and trams full. Botoxed front. Eyes laseados so I do not need contacts. Tattooed eyebrows I once asked my mother where the eyebrows had gone and she said: "Oh, I have no idea! & # 39;
But most importantly, I'm not really smiling in my photo. My mother was happy with her luck, she lived the moment, she did not postpone life, thinking: & # 39; As soon as I have eight stones … As soon as I bought that new house … & # 39;
When asked about the war, she replied: "We just understood." Imagine how the women of my generation would have faced each other!
My primordial feeling, when Big Day arrived and left last week, was that my generation of women was sold a lie. They told us that the lives of our mothers were shamefully submissive. They told us that we must fight against our bodies to submit, to get a race to have all the power.
The problem is that a great job does not bend every morning, without a murmur, and puts the socks gently on the toes, as dad did for mom.
My mother died on August 9, 2014. I had spent more than a decade alone after my father passed away. She suffered some terrible moments, without a doubt, but at the age of 60, a snapshot in time, she felt satisfied, loved and happy.
And how am I in my snapshot? All I can see is that I spent my life clinging to & # 39; things & # 39; with the hope that they would break my fall.
Instead, I landed with a bump on the road to old age, and realized too late that time will not be quieted, whatever the promise in the jar of ointment in my bathroom.