Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Sunday, July 04, 2004


There's comes a point in every woman's life when despite all efforts, you look in the mirror, grab your face like the "Home Alone" boy and scream: "Oh crap, I look like my mother!"

This happened to me the other day. It wasn't my fault. I've been cruising along for 43+ years confidently knowing that I didn't look or dress anything like my mother. And then crop pants and capris came into style. I know they are stylish because I see them in The Gap. (For me, this is the red flag of fashion. The other red flag is when I see something in K-Mart - then it's SO yesterday.) So anyway, I actually found a pair in my size - in stretch, no less. How great is that? So I pair them up with a soft Lands' End top. Voila! This is the most comfortable thing I've worn since footsy pajamas when I was 8. I'm feeling great inside and out and then I look in the mirror and do the above-mentioned scream accompanied by a gasp and a sigh. Suddenly, I was dressed exactly like my mother has dressed for the past 40 years.

There's nothing wrong with the way my mother dresses. She's very short, so it's hard for her to find clothes that fit. Most pants are too long unless she hems them. Plus, she rarely shops. I think at her age, you just sort of figure - why bother? Where am I going? And so for these past few decades, she's worn a variation of crop pants. I think she calls them pedal pushers. Often they are made of sweatpants material. Supremely comfortable and extremely unfashionable. But again, she's gardening and making my dad dinner - this is the uniform of her life. And suddenly, I've stepped into it.

You see, the problem with wearing what my mother wears is that it means one and only one thing - I'm old. In fact, when this revelation occurred, I felt like Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday: "I'M LIKE THE CRYPT KEEPER!!" I've been living my life all these years, sometimes feeling a little old but still imagining that I can't really be more than 25 or 30, tops. I'm a young-thinking, young-acting mom. I like rock music and I actually understand most of what my kids say.

But now, I'm feeling every one of my 43 years. It now makes sense why I can't read menus in dark restaurants. Or why when I climb to the third floor of my daughter's school to talk to her teachers, I have to pause in the hallway and pretend I'm actually interested in the science and literature projects on the walls - I can't breathe! I guess I have to accept the fact that I've reached middle age and I look nothing like Raquel Welch or Tina Turner or Cher. (And actually have no desire to undergo surgery to achieve that look.) When you look at the mirror and see your mother staring back at you, you finally have to come to grips with your mortality.

Look, I don't mean this as an assault on my mom. I know full-well that my daughter will also do everything in her power not to dress like me. I think that when we're in restaurants together and people say we look alike, she cringes inside. We strive for our own identity, but we're slaves to our genetic blueprint.

I guess what really matters when we look in the mirror is not who we see, but what see...and whether or not we accept that person, faults and all.


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