Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and I awoke with a spring in my step.
My sister-in-law had graciously offered to watch my kids, and the fact that I had free time courtesy of a free baby sitter had put me in a giddy mood. I scheduled coffee with a fellow mom who, despite being several years younger than me, had become a great friend. I smiled as I ran a brush through my hair before leaving the house.
That's when I saw them: an entire crop of silver hairs.
Hoping my observation had been an optical illusion, I moved closer to the mirror for a more thorough examination. My eyes hadn't betrayed me. I had gray hair.
The irony of making this discovery while getting ready to go out with a much younger friend wasn't lost on me, and, as I thought about it, my tweezers caught my eye. I picked them up, and contemplated my choices.
“Mom, what are you doing?”
I hadn't heard my son enter the room, and his sudden presence made me toss the tweezers down with embarrassment.
“Nothing,” I said sheepishly, feeling we had momentarily reversed roles.
He rolled his eyes and walked away. Grateful for his interruption and the subsequent realization that aging hair was better than a bald spot, I forced myself to get some perspective. As I left to meet my friend, I told myself this is why hair color exists, and these silver strands could be my little secret. I wasn't old. I just had prematurely gray hair. No problem.
I sat down in the coffee shop, put the hair incident behind me and basked in the joy of being out by myself.
My friend walked in a moment later, and her youthfulness suddenly seemed more apparent. I realized that, while I might feel like I was her age, I simply wasn't. I was going gray because I was getting older, and that was a fact that couldn't be hidden under hair color.
“I'm so glad to see you,” my friend said, snapping me out of my reverie. I smiled weakly. But when I saw the look on her face, I abruptly ended my pity party.
“What's wrong?” I asked.
“I'm overwhelmed,” she said tearfully.
I listened to her as she described how tough taking care of a small child could be, and nodded my head in agreement. I knew from experience that most mothers share her feelings. As she talked, it was clear this was new territory for her.
“It's all going to be OK,” I told her. “What you feel is totally normal.”
She looked at me with a mixture of gratitude and disbelief.
“Really?” she asked.
She wiped her eyes and smiled.
“It is so nice to get some reassurance from someone older,” she said.
I smiled back. A few hours ago, that comment may have stung a little. But at that moment, I was grateful to have been able to offer my friend some consolation. That, I told myself, was the benefit of age — gray hair and all.