Welcome, Mamma Crew!  Today is Mamma Thursdays when it’s all about us!  The mammas!

So today I’ve had another encounter with my face. What do I mean by that? Ever since I was a kid — nine, ten, and definitely in my teen years, people were constantly asking me to smile; to look happy. And the bottom line was, I was happy!

What kind of expression do I have?

And oftentimes, I was hurt and offended when they asked me to “look happy.” I just have one of those faces that always looks too serious. Yup, you got it!  I have the proverbial bitch face. You know what I mean — it’s that facial expression that unintentionally appears as if it’s angry, annoyed, irritated or contemptuous. And sometimes all of them wrapped into one!

This, believe it or not, happens especially when I’m relaxed or indifferent to something. The more relaxed I am, the more of a bitch face I have. Now I have to admit that there are certain advantages to having a resting bitch face. People tend to take you seriously because, well, you look serious all of the time! You can also look quite intimidating without meaning to, and this definitely is an advantage because you’re better able to control larger groups — such as a classroom. You command immediate respect — at least I did from my college students. And it worked to my advantage in a tremendous way when I found myself teaching in an auditorium-type setting and had more than a hundred students at a time. 

Another bright side is that my resting bitch face means that it takes a special kind of person to approach me. And to be honest with you I’m terrible at small talk. And I’m not interested in the kind of person that chit-chats, small talks, day in and day out. It’s just not me. So what ends up happening is I end up making really great friends. Not many friends, but fabulous friends! The type of friends that cross geographical boundaries and time, and are always near and dear to the heart (I’m sending love to you, Renee and Sherry. No they’re not my only friends but they’re definitely the two dearest and special friends that have outlasted great distances and great time). 

My angry face.

So having a resting bitch face is not all that bad. In some settings. But as a mom, I have experienced mixed results. For starters, my kids are very social children, just like my husband. Andy is an introvert — but my goodness that girl could party! She loves to socialize! And it’s so funny because she will go to a party, have a great time, meet lots of people and then I ask her, “Did you make any new friends?

“Oh yes! I made lots of new friends!”

“What’s their name?”

“No idea.”

“Well don’t you want to call them? Text them? Email them?”

“No, they’re not that kind of friends. They were just friends at the party and we had a great time. It’d be nice if I see them again but if I don’t, no big deal!” 

Emmy is my social butterfly. She’s the leader of the pack, she wants everything social to revolve around her, and of course, everything has special meaning. 

Dora — poor kid — she’s a little bit like me. She has these huge eyes. Unlike me, when she smiles her face lights up but the moment — the moment — that girl stops smiling, she has the beginning of that resting bitch face! Too serious and people complain about her. But unlike me, who is an absolute introvert,  Dora can be very social. And just like Andy, she can get out there and party and have an absolutely great time. 

Bug and Me.

Bug — well, he’s four. He has a good time whether he’s alone or with a group of people. As long as there’s rocks, bugs and something to climb! 

Now there’s one thing to having three girls that are so social — and that is that I’m constantly in the position of meeting new people because the kids always want to socialize. And I dread it, to be honest with you! Going into a new place with a bunch of moms that I don’t know — that don’t know me. And having to make friends or at least acquaintances, which I’m not terribly good at because I’m an introvert… It’s painful! 

And of course, it doesn’t help that I have a resting bitch face. I just don’t look approachable or friendly. And if I tried to smile, I look like I have a fake smile because I do! I’m one of those people that just cannot smile on cue! I have tried. Believe it or not, when the kids were young, I tried to have a good fake smile. I tried and tried. I wish I did. I just don’t. I suck at it. I either had a natural broad smile or no smile at all.

So it takes me standing around awkwardly for several meetings before I usually find someone who will give me a chance and find out that I actually don’t bite! That I’m actually fun and can be very understanding and non-judgmental, despite what might face my say. 

So back to the social settings that my kids inhabit. When I first meet moms, they really have a hard time trusting me with their kids. They’re always nervous that I’m going to be too strict with their children. The reality here is that I don’t actually believe in helicopter parenting — and I definitely don’t believe in helicopter parenting other people’s kids. I mean, it takes enough energy and works to parent my children. 

My kids get into arguments with their friends that they are expected to solve on their own. They know that they shouldn’t come to talk to me unless they’re really struggling to come to terms — or there’s hitting or blood involved.

I do have rules about where kids are allowed to hang out in my house and make a mess. And they are strict rules. I don’t care if they go to the playroom and they make a mess. But I don’t want them in the living room making a mess. And if you come to my home, or you bring your child into my home, or you leave your child in my home, and your child breaks or damages something, I expect you a.) to repair it or b.) to replace it. And I expect the same thing for myself if my child damages or breaks something in your home, then you don’t even have to say anything to me — I will automatically offer to repair or replace.

One thing that does surprise moms is that their children usually love me! Despite the fact that I have strict rules about where messes can’t be made and even stricter rules about safety. They really enjoy being in my home because I don’t helicopter parent. I allow them to have fun within those safe spaces. And they know what to expect from me so they understand the boundaries and just have a blast. 

And I have to be honest with you — the kids don’t seem to mind that I have a resting bitch face.  When they first come to our home, they do tread lightly. But it doesn’t take long before they begin to let go of their inhibitions. In the end, they only seem to care that I let them have a good time in my home, let them raid my fridge, and listen to them whenever they want to talk to me about their dramas. And boy, do girls have drama! 

We have this thing among the girls’ friends called the __________ circle, in which the girls can express their feelings to one another without being mean or nasty and expect that their feelings and opinions will be taken seriously. And the kids love doing that. In fact, there are times when I will have a bunch of girls over at my house and I will be having my own social event — yep, despite my resting bitch face I do have social events — and the kids will come and interrupt and the moms are always shocked that I’m willing to stop what I’m doing and go and find out what it is they need and help them out. 

I think one thing that  I always let my kids and their friends know is that they’re important to be — more important than whatever else it is I’m doing because I know they are at that age where everything feels extremely important and if they don’t get the solution or a resolution, they’ll just die.

Now I was really shocked to find out just a couple of months ago that women are flocking to plastic surgeons to fix their resting bitch face! Now as a woman who’s had many non-elective surgeries, and one elective surgery, I can’t imagine going through the pain I mean, ugh! Maybe I’m just getting too old but I just don’t want to have pain — unnecessary pain!

Maybe it’s not that painful though. To achieve the look, doctors use techniques such as the injection of fillers into the face and sometimes, Botox. Supposedly the procedure takes between 10 to 20 minutes and costs between $500 and $5,000. I say supposedly because how many times have we heard from doctors, ladies? Oh, it’s not going to be that bad. Uh-huh. Yep. Right. 

Now typically this fix only lasts up to 2 years. And I did see some pictures where I can honestly say that the change was rather amazing! In fact, the change was tempting. I was tempted! I mean it would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? To have a smile on my face or to at least look rested, rather than like I’m trying to kill someone. 

In general, the idea is to make the patient’s face look happier and fuller. And what I read from the reviews is that a lot of the women that went through the procedure argue that it is a procedure that they did make them tremendously happier. They didn’t do it for someone else. They did it for themselves. It made them feel good about themselves. To be accepted on a different level by their peers, family members, and so on. 

So, what do I think about this? I mean some of the women sounded so extraordinarily early happy and they sounded like their self-esteem had improved tremendously. Now $500 doesn’t seem like a lot of money to stop seeming like a sour puss when I see my reflection in the mirror or when other people see my face. But I don’t know that I would be more interested in spending much more than that. I mean, I have four kids. Do you know what my summer camp bill is like? Ugh! And honestly most of the time I can’t even remember my age I don’t remember if I’m 53 or 54 and people usually think that I’m in my 40s. 

So do I really want to do something to my face I mean I would never consider spending money to remove wrinkles. They’re mine! I like my wrinkles. They say that I’ve survived. I’ve been around. I’ve been happy I’ve been sad. I have survived.

My husband did suggest that I should take advantage of this new technique — and I briefly considered divorcing him for the first time. Just joking! I like myself. And part of liking myself means liking my face, accepting it as it is. And I’m completely ok with the aging process. I mean, the bottom line is I had to go through a lot of obstacles to get to this point in my life. Even when it comes to looks — my beautiful mother who was always disappointed that I was not as beautiful as she was. My father’s family always comparing me to a cousin who was far more beautiful than me. Having no confidence as a teenager or even as a young woman due to the bludgeonings of my self-esteem. 

So now that I’m finally comfortable in my own skin, should I really give serious thought to changing my calling card — my face? After all that I’ve been through, should I change my face? And more importantly, do I really want to show my daughters that I believe how a woman looks is more important than her other attributes? That is not to say that a woman shouldn’t do something that makes her feel good about herself. But if I change my resting bitch face, am I really doing it for me or am I doing it for someone else? I mean, after all, I have no problems with the face that I see in the mirror. 

And don’t my daughters already have all forms of media telling them what they should look like? Encourage them to spend enormous amounts of their time and money to look however society thinks they should look? Telling them over and over that, if they don’t achieve this surgically-altered and often photoshopped image of women, they have failed — failed as girls, as young women, as women. Is it not enough that society dehumanizes women through objectification? Do women need to objectify themselves too, by changing for others?

Yes, I know that a lot of the women said that they did it for themselves. You know, to feel better about themselves. But why didn’t they feel good about themselves in the first place? Probably because they’re getting the same kind of messages that I get sometimes (often). Look happier. Why can’t you be happier? Smile. Why do you have to look like that? ‘Cause that’s the face I was born with! 

And more importantly, I think that as a mother, I have to be conscious of the impacts of both my words and my actions on my children. I don’t want my girls, or my boy, to think that they will only be socially acceptable if they are young, thin, beautiful, prim, and polished! I mean this is especially challenging will genetic problems, such as Bug’s, who isn’t going to get all of his teeth; who will need dental implants in order to “have a normal life” just for the purposes of eating, let alone for looks.

I guess I’m just not politically correct enough to argue that image doesn’t matter. But I do want my daughters to feel good about their image in their own terms. Especially as they enter that awkward teenage phase in their lives. So, as I think about it, if the women that reshaped their resting bitch face, they truly did it because it was something for themselves, then I think it was the right thing. But if they did it because they’ve been getting negative messages for so long that they have lost their self-esteem, once again, I think it was the right decision because we should do what we can to feel good about ourselves. But we shouldn’t feel good about ourselves because we’re pleasing others. That should not be the reason to change our face — to please others to make others comfortable with the way we look when there’s nothing wrong with having a serious face.

The bottom line is I need to teach my children that the true source of their beauty comes from feeling comfortable in their own skin. It is in developing confidence in oneself that we discover those special qualities that make us unique; that gives us the strength to live our lives as individuals. They really need to learn this lesson because they won’t always get approval from the outside. They won’t always get validation from the outside. 

The world can be pretty tough and it can be tougher on its expectations of women. They always seem to be moving towards a goal post that keeps changing, sometimes seemingly becoming almost unattainable.

So on that note, I’m putting the $500  towards the kids’ summer camps — and keeping my resting bitch face! I may not always look like I’m enjoying my life, but guess what? I am! Whatever the challenge is, I like myself and the way I look. And I adore my kiddos. I can’t wait to see what facial lines are in my future!

If you share an imperfect journey to motherhood, please subscribe to our blog (www.oldermomsblog.com) or podcast (https://apple.co/34m7mUi). Till next time…  Toodles….