Dressing Up Mom

If my boys are telling me a story or joke, they will follow me all over the house to tell it to me. Yesterday they followed me into my closet, and while one was telling the joke, the other was looking at my clothes.

“This does not look like you,” said the nine year old, tugging at a brightly colored collared shirt.

“That’s because it isn’t. I just bought it so I can try a golf lesson.”

“It’s more Dad.”

“That’s because he plays golf.”

The joke his brother was telling ended, and the two of them kept going through my clothes.

“You pretty much look like a dork except when you wear dresses,” the ten year old informed me, touching a casual red one he has commented on before.

“Like this one. You should wear this one a lot.” Every time I wear a dress, the one who just called me a dork tells me I look really pretty and gives me a big hug. I always imagined he knew that dressing up is hard for me, and I need a thumbs-up before I go out into the world that way. Nope.

They found some of my fancier dresses, not worn since my early thirties when I still had friends who were having weddings.

“Wow, you never wear this. You should wear this!” I loved that dress when I bought it before having three kids.

And about a cream colored one, “Is this your wedding dress? Wear this!”

“Not my wedding dress, but it is fancy,” I explained. “I don’t have anywhere to wear it.”

“You should wear it out to dinner!”

“I would need to go somewhere really fancy.”

“Then Dad should take you somewhere really fancy.”

“But we don’t like fancy food.”

“Oh, mom! Just wear the dress.”

And then they were off, leaving me alone in my closet to ponder why two boys whose clothes rarely match want their mom to look like a princess.

Particularly Undesirable Birthdays

As you approach a birthday you are dreading, ignore the voice in your head that pretends you want to hide, lay low, and make it like any other day.

It is not. It is your birthday. And if you refuse to acknowledge it, in all its glory, you may end up feeling… well… old.

Typically, I have no problem with birthdays. They are an excuse to be a princess, kick back a little, go out, and do something fun.

Not so at forty-six.

Forty-six is dangerously close to 50. My skin doesn’t glow. My knees ache when I run. And construction workers don’t even look up when I walk by.

So at 46, I was feeling unusually grumpy about my birthday. I made no special plans for that day or evening.

Big mistake. “I am 46, I am 46, I am 46, I am 46” reverberated even louder, because it was not balanced out with “and we get to go out tonight!”

So I have a new game plan.

1) For the week leading up to my birthday, I am going to remind everyone it is coming. Instead of me hearing “I am 47, I am 47, I am 47,” all my friends will. That will translate into a bunch of fun emails and calls on the big day, and I will be grateful that the day was mine even if all the self-PR is obvious and slightly tacky.
2) I will celebrate myself by doing something that makes me happy: a hike or a long day by the pool with a book.
3) I will go out to dinner with anyone who will come with me – my husband, the kids, my parents, my sisters, my friends, or even their kids. It does not matter who or where, but I will not cook or do dishes ever again on July 16.
4) I will polish my toenails. Nail polish makes feet look younger. Or at least it says that the old lady with the pretty toes is young at heart and can still bend over to polish without falling on her face.

I’ve got my game on for forty-seven.

Watch Out, Ladies

Last weekend, while climbing the sand dunes at Sand Dunes National Park, my five year old broke the hearts of a bunch of teenage girls. Exhausted from the climb, they wondered at his ability to soldier on grinning and yelling at the older kids in our group.

The girls took their photos with him. They knew him by name. Apparently at five, he has a way with the ladies.

Today at the pool, he was sitting with me eating a cone of chocolate soft-serve ice cream with colorful sprinkles. His chin and nose were chocolate. I thought he was tired of the sun, staring off into space.

He was not.

He was staring at a group of teenage girls with long hair and cell phones.

“Mom,” asked chocolate face, “why do some people think girls in bikinis are gross?”

“Who said that?”

His older brother. I could have guessed. “Honey, he doesn’t like girls no matter what they’re wearing.”

“Thought so,” and he kept on staring.

My Grandma Arms

Many years ago, a film professor of mine said, “A woman should retire her arms by age 35.”

At the time, I was 25 and thought her a bit Hollywood. But at 45, I understand she was just advising that we take care of business before it’s too late… and somebody sees…

Arms are rarely mentioned when men talk about the sexy parts of a woman’s body. And most women do not list them as the part of their body they most wish they could change. Small boobs, big ankles, bulging belly, wide hips all come in ahead of arms. In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone sigh, “If I could only feel better about my arms…”

Then suddenly, you hit your mid-forties.

Unless you’ve actually focused on keeping your arms toned, they seem to be the first thing to “go grandma” on you. Your legs still look good – everyone has to walk, right? Your waist may still exist. Underwire bras give you a lift if you need it.

But then it’s spring. You put your cute dress on for a graduation or a night out. You know, the sleeveless one? And your arms give you away.

You point to the stage where a family member is about to receive a diploma, and out of the corner of your eye, you see movement. Actual jiggling. Like grandma.

From that moment on, it’s all about the arms.