6: The Bathroom Mirror

6: The Bathroom Mirror

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great

The Bathroom Mirror

As I approach the bathroom mirror today, I cautiously scrutinize the reflection staring back at me. I have recently been given a new name. The name is “Grandma.”

I brace myself against the counter while squinting my eyes at the face in the mirror. How could this woman possibly be a grandmother? She looks nothing at all like the grandmother who had been in my childhood. This woman doesn’t have a speck of gray in her hair. And there is not a trace of wrinkles or age spots to be seen. Of course to be fair, my grandmother didn’t have fifty different boxes of hair coloring conveniently awaiting her at the grocery store or the wonderful selection of anti-aging creams that stand lining my counter like good little soldiers. Still it is difficult to believe that I have earned this title of “Grandma.”

Where have the years gone? My mind wanders back to my own childhood. I did have a very nice childhood I would dare say, nothing out of the ordinary. However, I do remember certain phrases that my mother used that I swore would never pass through my lips. I still gasp in horror when I remember uttering for the first time to my kids, “It’s always fun and games until somebody gets hurt!” I swear, my head did a ninety-degree turn to see if my mother was standing anywhere near me. Had those words really come from my mouth? Those were my mother’s words. Oh no, I was possessed! And the first time I heard my mother’s laugh coming from my throat, well it was almost as if a full moon was turning me into a werewolf. I was downright quivering with fear.

Then there’s the memory of when I was eight years old and I was storming down the hall, headed towards my bedroom in a real snit over one of my mom’s judgment calls. I slammed the door behind me with all my strength, purging my rage. Mom appeared within seconds, demanding to know why I slammed the door. Being blessed with very large eyes that could widen to angelic heights, I softly whimper, “It was the wind, Mama. See, the window is open.” It worked like a charm, and I am happy to report that it still worked when my kids used it on me.

There’s something about the word “mama,” when spoken by a child, that has the power to unleash a force so strong that it can turn a mother’s heart into a puddle of quivering Jell-O. As I stand before the mirror this morning, I ponder what the word “Grandma” will do to me. I envision a huge bowl of mush with the words, “Help me. I’m drowning,” written on top in brown sugar with two large eyes blinking through it.

How has my childhood blurred into my children’s childhood and now into their children’s childhood? Where has the time gone? I realize the answer is gazing back at me in the mirror. It is within me. It is in my spirit and within my heart. I have become my mother and, in turn, a grandmother. I no longer quake in fear over the transition. I embrace it with a smile. This girl, this mother and now this grandmother is going to be just fine.

~Wanda Mitchell
Chicken Soup for the Grandparent’s Soul

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