Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Art of Letting Myself Go

It’s official. The middle ages are here.

No, not those middle ages, MY middles ages. I’ve arrived and it ain’t pretty.

How did I come to this realization at the ripe young age of 47? (What you really want to ask is why it took me 10 years longer than it should to discover the obvious.) Easy. I’m letting myself go. Let me explain.

You know how young minds are easily influenced? Well, when I was a very young woman – probably early college years – I read an interview with Princess Grace of Monaco, a.k.a. Grace Kelly. In this interview, she mentioned in passing that she believes that women should always look their best when they go out because it shows respect for other people. If you look nice, then you’re telling the people with whom you come in contact, that you like yourself enough to look good for them and you.

I have no clue why, but that made an impression on me.

I was raised by parents that had a distinctly different philosophy. Unless you were going to a fancy restaurant or working in an office, then your apparel should be all about function. My dad lives in sweatshirts and my mom, who is, shall we say, “vertically challenged” has always had an affinity for jersey knit Capri pants. Both enjoy the comfort of white sweat socks, and that’s just fine.

I am not a formal dresser, but I’d say that, for most of my adult life, I took a fair amount of time to get ready for going out in public. I’d think about what I was wearing, put on makeup, do my hair and feel like I looked my best, even if it was jeans and a casual shirt.

Until recently.

It’s not like anything happened, but I realized that I’ve stopped caring a little bit. I’m willing to venture into a grocery store without makeup. We’ve got lots of snow here and my “rubber duck shoes” are rather practical. I often wear them with white sweat socks. It’s definitely a Glamour don’t.

Oh my God, I’m turning into my parents! Could it be that they too once took great care in their appearance, but worn down by the ravages of raising three ungrateful, snotty kids, found it so much easier to don workout wear?

The old me would use this epiphany as a starting point for a mini-makeover. The new me is cutting itself a bit of slack and choosing not to feel judged based on appearances. It’s the manifestion of fashion apathy.

Here’s where I draw the line – embarrassing my teenage daughter. Although I have relaxed my personal dress code, I won’t go out of my way to make her run away in shame or disavow our family ties due to my clothing choices. That would be cruel and unusual and our relationship already has its own challenges.

Instead, I choose to embarrass her in other ways such as talking to her friends and asking them lots of questions when I’m driving them around. Sometimes, gasp, I even participate in conversations and tell jokes! Jeez, I’m so annoying.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Be Careful What You Ask For

What is it about parenting? You work with your kids really hard on something. You expend blood, sweat, cash and perhaps some tears. They finally achieve that goal and what do you do? You worry. You cry. You sort of wish you could have them back the way they used to be.

My teenage daughter and her friends are all in various stages of preparing for or getting their driver’s licenses. When I’m not doing the white knuckle ride in the passenger seat of the vehicle formerly known as mine, I’m listening to my daughter dream about the day she gets her license.

For me, this is rather bittersweet. On the one hand, I’m anxious to be relieved of chauffeur duty. The last-minute schedule changes and the weekends that are hijacked by high school parties in subdivisions near and far are starting to drive me a little batty. I look forward the day when my husband and I can do what we want when we want.

But it’s not that easy.

I’m certain that the day that my daughter gets her license will be a joyful celebration. I’m also certain that on that same day, when she backs out of the driveway alone for the first time, my mind will be with her and not cavalierly booking theatre tickets or planning weekends at B&Bs.

That day will begin the days of endless worry. When sirens that pass by our house are no longer just aural annoyances but further reasons for concern until she walks back safely in the front door. I went through this once with our son and it’s not really fun. It just is what it is.

I felt the same way about our son going to college. Together we worked hard at the college selection process. Sure, he did the actual work, but we were right there with him, giving encouragement and saying a few extra prayers that he’d end up at the right school. And then when he did, I couldn’t help but feel sad that I couldn’t just tuck him in his bed and keep him safe at home.

It’s what we parents do. We raise them to leave us. The irony is that we never really leave them. Damn.