Occasionally, late at night or early in the morning, I scare my children. No, I don’t hide behind cracked doors, awaiting the perfect moment to shout “boo!” I don’t hide plastic spiders in dark crevasses to merely take their breath away. Nope, I don’t do any of that. Actually, my intention isn’t to scare them. It’s quite the opposite. And yet, each time they see me, I’m quickly reminded that my face terrifies them.
It’s not my fault really. It’s the “Cup O’Coffee” face and body mask that I got from Lush recently. I am a Lush loyalist, but I had never heard of or tried this new product. So, a few weeks ago when we found ourselves perusing the store, I decided to take a leap and try it out.
The smell reminded me of the Starbucks that I frequently visit, although, our current pandemic has kept me away for several weeks. If I can’t smell the comforting aromas of brewing coffee beans, why not slather my face with their grounds and use it as an exfoliant. I may not like to drink coffee, but it was worth seeing if my skin could benefit from it.
So, some nights and mornings, when I find that I need a little “pick-me-up,” I massage the brown goop all over my face and let it soak into the pores for 15 minutes or so. During that time, I emerge from my bathroom only to hear “ooohhhs” and “aaahhhhs” … but not the good ones.
My kids remind me time and time again that I just don’t look like myself with the mask on. Quite frankly, I’m savoring the smells so much during each mask experience that I forget that I look like a creature from the black lagoon to them. To me, I see a face on the verge of renewal. To them, they see a mud pile taking over.
This one particular morning, after several minutes of cooking breakfast with the mask on, I was politely asked to remove it. When I ignored the request, for the mask hadn’t been on long enough, the request turned into a demand. Fine, I’d take it off a few minutes early if it would appease their ongoing nags. Who knew that a face mask could be so annoying to someone who isn’t even wearing it?
I savored each moment scrubbing the mask off (truly, that is the best part) and once it all washed away, I smiled as I celebrated the smooth skin it left behind. My face looked lighter and brighter. And I felt better.
I came out of my bathroom, again, but this time I was greeted with smiles and words of thanks, for what freaked them out was no longer visible. All that was left was my naked face, free from moisturizer and makeup.
I plopped down on the couch next to my daughter and asked her if I looked younger! I mean, isn’t that the purpose of skin care regimes? She giggled, staring straight at my face and peering into my growing smile lines and droopy eyelids, and said, “No Momma, you don’t look any younger.” She was so matter of fact, as if I had convinced myself that something as simple and pleasing as a face mask could reverse time. She knew better, on many accounts.
My smile ceased, and when it did, she followed up her comment with a more poignant response, “But Momma, you look happier. So, I think the mask did its job. I don’t want you younger, but I love you happier.”
I wish I was as wise as my 6-year-old, for she sees past the things that many of us can’t, and peers deep into your soul, nurturing you from within. As much as I wanted to argue that in fact, my face mask had done wonders to my skin, she was right. The feeling that it left me with wasn’t something someone else could see. The softness of my cheeks didn’t change its appearance and the dark circles I had from late nights of worry didn’t subside. In fact, the face mask washed away anything that I had used to hide behind and showed my true self, in a very, very vulnerable way. And in that vulnerable moment, she saw my happiness, and loved me for it.
What would someone see if you washed away your mask? Would they see the imperfections that you focus on when you look in the mirror — your age spots, worry lines, wrinkles and gray hair? Or would they see your bright spirit and loving soul? Would they see you happy once again? Have you ever considered that what they might see behind your literal and figurative mask may be someone that they love more than the person that you are trying to be now?
Nothing about our lives is perfect. In fact, we weren’t made to be perfect. After a few days, my skin begs for the mask that makes my skin so soft as my pores get clogged once again. I’ve learned to embrace the gray hair that intermingles with my chocolate strands now-a-days and even though my drooping eyelids cause my eye liner to rub off where my eye shadow should live, I just laugh to myself when I look in the mirror and need to touch up.
I am not perfect. I never will be. I can try to come across that way, but it does no one any good … not even myself. For my daughter said it best when she saw me without my mask on … and I’d venture to say, she’d say the same thing to you if she got to see the you behind your mask … “I love you happier.” How can you embrace the you you are meant to be today and be happier?