Our theme for the month of February is “color.”
My mom celebrated her fifty-fourth birthday on Saturday. Earlier in the week she declared, with gusto, that the time has come for her to “go grey.” We were in the car when she told me, and I looked across from the passenger seat at the woman I love most in the world. Indeed, there were a few silver strands at the crown of her head, floating over the chestnut waves that dropped down to her shoulders. She is beautiful, and not only because she is my mother.
She went on to say, “It’s empowering—I feel like I’ve earned my greys.” She talked about how fun it will be to stop hiding them and about a Facebook group that she’s joined called “The Silver Revolution.” I listened and laughed as she told me about all of the women who are supporting and encouraging one another as they embrace the outward manifestation of their accumulating years. It’s a beautiful thought, isn’t it? Women who are celebrating a new season of life and with it a new conception of what it means to be beautiful.
Of course, I consider all of this from the meager hilltop of twenty-four years, where the very thought of beauty conjures with it the overwhelming feeling of effort. I’m still unclear on this whole contouring thing, and based on my Instagram, I’m not doing nearly enough eyebrow grooming. And while I don’t mind, and even enjoy spending time primping, I also feel relieved at the thought of just letting my body be what it is. The romantic in me is taken with the idea of loving our bodies as they are, even through their seasons of change.
I have walked that journey even in the last few years as I have learned to love the strength in my thighs and the softness of my hips in new ways—amazed by what my fully developed body can do. But these changes sometimes take time to love. I had a conversation with my cousin a few weeks ago along the same theme. She is the best mother to two rambunctious little boys and was sharing with me the challenge of living in a body permanently changed by motherhood. I told her that her softness is beautiful and a mark of strength for her boys. I told her that they will feel that softness when she holds them and hugs them, and that they will know how much she has already given them just by touching her. And while I don’t know these things as a mother, I do know them as a child.
My mother has earned every one of her grey hairs. Between being a mother to three unruly children, giving thirty years of loyal ministry to the misfits of northwestern Pennsylvania, and running our family farm that plays host to an ever-rotating menagerie of creatures, she is a woman of strength and great joy. She is fiercely committed to reality but sees goodness everywhere and in everyone. She is relational and funny. She rolls with the punches and lives for the adventure. I could not ask for a better mom, and I love her all the more for her softness and her lovely grey hairs.
Ansley Kelly (‘16) is a Department Manager at Wegmans in Buffalo, New York. She is passionate about her work as a leader and often describes her job as “creating environments for talented people to be successful.” In the summer you can find her training as the bowperson on a competitive sailing team, and in the winter she volunteers as a member of the National Ski Patrol. After both of those activities you can find her sipping bourbon (neat, of course) and working on puzzles.