Mommy's Got a Wrinkle (or Two)

You knew the day was coming. Not the bittersweet day when your baby toddles off onto the playground without a backward glance for mommy’s reassurance. Not the tear-inducing day when your sweet little darling goes to her first day of kindergarten. But the day when your sweet little angel, sitting tight in your warm and loving embrace, peers at you, then places a finger tenderly on your face. Your heart melts with love. Until you hear: “Mommy, why do you have so many wrinkles?”

Perhaps you laugh it off the first time, because what your sweet little angel said wasn’t so much a value judgment as a statement of fact. You do have a couple (give or take a few dozen) tiny little wrinkles. But wherever they are and however deeply etched, your children will soon become old enough to not just remark on your widening crevasses, but also demand that you take action, as my son, now 11, did, not too long ago when I was reading by a bright light and he got a good eyeful. A few seconds later, I got The Look.

“You know, mommy,” he said matter-of-factly, “you really need to call Dr. Brandt.”

I have been forced to confront the inevitable and develop a Strategic Wrinkle Plan.

My little charmer. I should explain that I had the good fortune to have worked with Dr. Fredric Brandt, aka the Botox King, on his last book, 10 Minutes/10 Years. Not only did I learn a lifetime of lessons about skin health and skin care from him, but he also used me as a model in the book and I was given a whole tray full of needles loaded with magic elixirs of wrinkle filling and wrinkle smoothing for the before and after shots.

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Let’s just say that the temporary smoothing is now long gone, along with my ability to beg and plead for more freebies (or pay out of pocket for them), so I have been forced to confront the inevitable ... and develop a Strategic Wrinkle Plan, version 2012, that does not involve paying for any medical treatment or needles.

Step 1: Get bangs. They do wonders for hiding forehead lines. And they are flattering for most women and so much cheaper than Botox.

Step 2: Never leave the house without sunscreen on, no matter what the weather. I’m actually glad now that I’ve been such a pale face all my life, because I started wearing hats and sunblock when I was young to avoid getting fried. This is also the single most important thing you can do to prevent wrinkles and sun damage. There are also so many great, inexpensive options that you have no excuse not to use it.

Step 3: Remind my child and every other child with a tendency to blurt (which is, of course, practically every child you’ll ever meet) that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And that making comments about anyone else’s appearance, whether wrinkled or smooth, is never to be done within earshot. This is a valuable life lesson that will serve them well, and may help you (or so you may hope) prevent those dreaded moments in the grocery store checkout line when your little one shouts out, “Mommy, why is that lady so fat?”

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Step 4: When asked how old I am by a child who should know better (see Step 3), I smile broadly and say in cotton-candy-spun tones, “Why, honey, I am 846 years old!” When they look perplexed or have the nerve to protest, I say, “OK, you caught me. I am only 693.”

Step 5: Embrace what nature (and nurture) have bestowed upon me. And this is why I’ve told my son that my crevasses are laugh lines that somehow showed up because I like to laugh and be happy. That the rest of them are lines of wisdom and experience that I earned as I dealt with whatever tribulations life has thrown at me. And that I’m proud of all this evidence that has been etched into my skin.

Still, I’m not sure he buys the last step. One night recently, when he rolled his eyes after I slathered on concealer, I said, “Well, if it’s a choice between getting you a new computer or me getting some Restylane, what should I do?”

He actually had to think about it. Then he looked at my hair.

“Mommy,” he said, “you really need to get your roots done.”

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