Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let The Blushing Begin

Since I can't remember a time in my life that didn't include red-faced memories, it had to have started when I was young, this business of blushing pink or red or fuchsia or heaven forbid -- magenta. The purple overtones in that particular shade would mean I'm about to keel over and burst into flames from sheer overexposure to attention. But surely there was a time, pre-blushing, in which an innocent little Heavenly Sarah lived without fear of pink cheeks.

I've wondered if the blushing grew as a reaction to being self-conscious, or if the self-consciousness developed in response to the blushing. The chicken or the egg scenario. Because nothing says LOOK AT ME like a hot red face, are you with me? One of these days I might spontaneously sprout a neon sign over my bright, embarrassed face just to demand the attention of any wayward stragglers. It's not like they'd want to miss The Reddest Face Of All Time, and who am I to deprive them of that particular gawker's delight?

And gawkers are the funniest people when it comes to red faces. The comment I get most often is 'Whoa. Your face is RED!" Like I didn't know already. "Are you serious! Huh. And here I thought the sound of blood rushing through my eyeballs was because I was about to go blind. I thought the heat and beads of sweat were due to my really high metabolism!" But I can't blame them, their statements are harmless, right? Simple truth-telling, right?

Wrong. Because the utterance of those words will escalate any simple blush through successive phases of coloring until the dreaded magenta is reached. Poof. It's like a magic trick: the gawkers' words have all the power of a well-timed Abracadabra when it comes to making my cheeks hotter. Not hot like accidentally ingesting jalapeno seeds. Not hot like getting a new haircut, facial, and complete wardrobe makeover. Not hot like playing outside on a summer day and needing a dip in the pool to cool off.

Hot like lava erupting from my pores. And it's not only in my face, lucky for the world. The redness I emit starts at my sternum, flows over my shoulders, up my neck, into my head, and out my ears. I checked once, and the bare scalp in my parted hair was red, too. I'm just lucky my hair is dark, or I'm sure I'd have the power to turn blonde hair pink.

But this post wasn't supposed to be about me. It's really about my sweet, sweet daughters and their likelihood of inheriting my thin skin and fiery embarrassability. As much as I desperately don't want them to be stricken with my blushable skin tone, it seems inevitable. Even so, I've been holding out hope that they'd get their handsome daddy's skin -- it doesn't blush well. It's calm and collected and not confused in the least about what color it was born to be.

My hopes were quietly dashed a few days ago when friend of ours walked into the same crowded lunchtime restaurant as us, and stood in line to order. Mia spotted her and wanted to catch her attention to say hello. She yelled across the dining room with her 4-year-old voice, waving and smiling shyly. I glanced at Mia as our friend joined us, and there, on my sweet little girl's face, was a blooming pinkness. It overtook her cheeks, her forehead, her temples. She tucked her chin under and let her hair fall across her face, grinning and hiding at the same time.

I almost couldn't look away. The pink was...beautiful. It was a glow. It was stunning. Her excitement and shyness had combined into the most lovely color on her purely innocent face. She radiated youth and life and perfection.

Remembering myself, I tore my eyes away from my little girl. Wherever I go, I avoid staring at other people's embarrassments -- a habit borne from hoping people won't acknowledge my embarrassments -- and this situation was no different, ultimately. My daughter had drawn attention to herself by yelling across the crowded room. She'd been addressed by the person to whom she'd yelled. She'd been filled with self-awareness, and it manifested itself in a blush on her sweet cheeks.

The die has been cast. Rather, it was cast upon her conception when my genetic material was proud enough and forceful enough to demand re-creation in her new life, but still; now it's clear to the world: she will be a blusher.

It just fascinates me that I thought the pinkness was beautiful. Stunning, even. It gives me hope that maybe blushing is endearing after all.

It certainly is on her. Now I just have to figure out a way to have NO one, EVER, in the enTIRE course of her LIFE, point it out to her.

Because then all magenta will break loose.


  1. I'm afraid I've avoided the Blush Monster in my own life (and it doesn't hurt that I have tan skin... it's like an invisibility cloak for blushing!)

    If it consoles you in any way, magenta is one of my favorite colors :D

  2. Sarah, I don't remember ever worrying about the color of my cheeks, but I can say that I grew up as a VERY self-conscious and shy individual. As I have reached PAST several hardships in life and particularly PAST THE AGE OF 35 (that wasn't a hardship) I have gotten much less self conscious. In fact, now people think that I am lying, joking or otherwise not telling the truth when I tell them that I USED to be shy and self-conscious before I overcame that. A couple more decades of blushing and I figure that you too will overcome that beautiful phase in your life. I'm glad that Mia allowed you to see your beauty reflected back to you in her lovely little face. While it has always embarassed you it really is a beautiful trait that has now been passed down to Mia. Gos sure is wonderful to allow that.

  3. I think pink cheeks are beautiful! I actually have to spend money making mine pink. So, if you just live a life of embarrassment, you could save lots of money. Mia is blessed to have inherited this lovely trait.

  4. Ok. So, seriously? I fear the blush, as well. And I have to tell you that I feel you, I know EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN when you talk about blushing- and I think that the word "blush" is something cute and mild compared to the color(s) I can turn when embarrassed or overexposed. I've learned to control it while public speaking over YEARS of forced practice through my school (I went to a Jesuit college, and they're big on the public speaking) and church. But it's been brutal, when I was younger I went on a mission for my church (public speaking intensive) and the guys I taught with would tease me mercilessly about how I'd blush. I didn't find out until I was going home (19 months in) that it was a kind of mission "dare" to see if new missionaries could make me blush while teaching lessons. And then...I was moved into a place where I had to teach in SPANISH. And the redness ensued. Sigh.

    What takes the cake NOW, though, is when I blush at the doctor's office. I swear it's like I'm not even a grownup, and I can't discuss MEDICALLY RELEVANT INFORMATION without becoming embarrassed.

    I've gone through years of strategically keeping my hair down when I knew blushing would be inevitable (to hide behind, of course) and wearing blush to hopefully offset the whole redness thing. I've learned how to calm myself down, but I also know there's a point of no return where it doesn't matter what I think about or how I breath. I'm destined to be embarrassed by my embarrassment.

    Super sigh.

    So yeah, I feel ya.

  5. Oh Sarah...can I ever relate! We could be twins in the blushing departmenet. And you are right, the more it is pointed out, the worse it gets. I don't just blush when I'm embarrassed either but sometimes at the most inopportune times. It's a curse :) I too have wondered whose skin Lily will inherit -- mine or her Daddy's!

  6. It's simply Pinkalicious-pink is perfect!

  7. As a redhead, I can seriously relate. My skin often matches my hair - over the smallest things.

    Let's start a new movement that makes blushing beautiful.

  8. How sweet! Maybe it's God's way of teaching you to not fear the blush! To see it reflected back at you on your beautiful little girl's face has to ease some of the bad feelings you have about your own blushing.

  9. Let me just say, I thought this post was about me. Yeah, I get a great tan in summer. But does that stop me from turning alarming shades of magenta? No, it makes it worse. And I thought it would ease up as I got older and more confident. Nope. I think it's worse, because I'm more aware that I'm embarrassed.

  10. Awww... You made blushing into quite the precious post. :)

  11. I also have very blushable (and sunburnable) skin. Sometimes the thought of blushing just pops into my head at the most awkward times (like "this would be a weird time to blush), and after that I'm definitely blushing. Ugh.

    PS I seriously love the phrase "fiery embarrassability!"

  12. I love pink cheeks, as long as they aren't mind :)
    My face also turns red... mostly if in an embarrassing situation, or if I have to speak in from of more than four people...

  13. "Blood rushing through my eyeballs"...I so know the feeling!
    How sweet about your little Mia! It always tugs at my protective heart when I see our little girl feel self-conscious or embarrassed! I just want to scoop her up and reassure her! I don't do so well with the letting go part of mothering!

  14. so lovely and sweet. I too, would want to protect her from feeling embarrassed about it. I think blushing is beautiful and lively....

  15. Girl, you know how to write. This was lovely.

  16. I think blushing is cute though! My husband blushes... occasionally, if I have just been incredibly embarrassing... and I always die at how adorable it is!

  17. I love this post! (But that's nothing new!)

  18. "All magenta will break loose."


    Love it.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?