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Pulling the brush through my brunette locks, I see gray streaks of hair cascading in waves. Leaning close to the mirror, I see the beginnings of crows feet peek from the edges of my eyes causing me to touch them. A sparkle shines from my hazel brown eyes giving a hint to the youthfulness of years past. Deep lines begin to etch both sides of my mouth.

Laying my brush on the counter, I grab my purse and meet my husband and son for a trip to a local big box store. Once we arrive, I’m often oblivious to the looks I receive pushing my son’s stroller through the store. Do others think the child in the stroller is my grandson? Or perhaps they assume I am the child’s caregiver. Or they even conjecture I have chosen to adopt the blond haired boy.

Wrong on all counts.

The smiling bright-eyed boy is indeed my son. Should the store patron get a chance to ask me, they would find out I am a mother to a miracle. Just two weeks after my 40th birthday, I gave birth via a scheduled C-section. We’d been told this precious gift may not live past birth, and yet, he did.

Though he needed the life-saving equipment of a ventilator, our hearts were full of love for this tiny creation diagnosed with a rare form of dwarfism.  A long six month stay in the local hospital ended with a triumphant homecoming and 24-hour nursing care. Year slipped into year, and now this miracle is ten years old.

Time did not stand still, however. I celebrated my 50th birthday just before my son’s 10th birthday. A milestone for us both to be sure. So, I understand the assumptions that I am his grandmother. Or that we adopted our little man.

My age has not interfered with the raising of my son except on occasion I experience a perimenopausal headache. And then, my husband steps in to help. But, as my midsection grows and the needle on the scale creeps higher, I know I must somehow grab my youth and the health I’d once had when I was younger. I am not motivated by vanity or beauty but by a desire to be strong and healthy for my son.

I pondered a time when I was fit in late-twenties. I used to go to the gym doing both cardio exercises and lifting weights. I have read pumping iron helps builds not only muscles but strong bones. A must for people my age. Currently, I am not challenged carrying my 25-pound son, but as he grows, I need to be able to lift him.

So, off we went to purchase an elliptical and a weight bench. Once set up, I’m surprised how I remember many of the exercises from long ago. And though I’d heard muscles have memory, I doubt they go back twenty years. So I must start from scratch. Three weeks into the process, I had a triumph when I wore a pair of jeans that fit slightly better than before starting the regimen. I’ll take this victory.

My attempt to turn back time is in the beginning stages. Motivated by my son’s smile which makes my heart melt in ten seconds flat, I know I can succeed if I take baby steps. I don’t have to let my age define my strength. I can wrap my strong arms around my son with ease. I can get stronger with daily determination. Who knows, perhaps, strangers won’t think I am my son’s grandmother anymore.

Are you a middle aged momma of a young child? Do you have people guessing you are your child’s grandmother? Do you want to regain the strength of your youth? It can all start with a 2.5-pound hand weight and some good old fashioned floor exercises.

This piece first appeared on MiracleMann.com.

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