“Mom, it wouldn’t hurt for you to dress up a little before you drop us off at school,” says my 13-year-old daughter.
And by “a little” she means stiletto heels, coiffed hair, and full makeup. Her fashion icon is a friend’s mother who has the audacity to be cool and put together by eight a.m. She wears trendy pumps, coordinated jewelry and designer sunglasses–a true fashion aficionado. Heck, I’m lucky to swing that on a long weekend. What kind of mother wears three-inch heels to walk the kids to school?
Not to be excluded from the conversation, my 10-year-old son chimes in, “Seriously, Mom. It’s embarrassing. Try to look better.”
Who is he kidding? Five inches of boxer shorts hanging over the top of his blue jeans doesn’t qualify as fashion sense. His personal style includes hair Andy Warhol would envy and breath that melts wallpaper. Me embarrass him? Oy vey!
“By the way, you have permanent black marker on your face,” I say.
Okay, I admit, there may be some merit to their complaints. My fashion sins are innumerable. The standard uniform in the morning consists of whatever I wore to bed the night before, usually an old baggy T-shirt and ratty sweatpants. Putting on a bra is the only concession I make prior to driving them to school. After all, I justify, I’m only visible to others from the waist up. I might put in contacts instead of wearing eyeglasses but why push it?
So, I’ll give it a shot at improving my appearance, for the kids’ sake. Getting up an hour earlier the next day, I shower, blow dry, mousse, even use the fancy imported boar bristle brush recommended by my stylist. After flecking off a few suspicious white pieces of fur clinging to the top of my head, I realize the dog brush is strangely similar to the $49 professional hair styling brush. On the plus side, both keep tangles and mats at bay, perfect.
In the makeover process, I surprise myself by feeling better, more confident, and continue primping. New straight leg jeans with a billowy top. Full makeup. Eye shadow. A spritz of perfume rounds out the new “me.” No time to make the kid’s lunch or breakfast. Too busy grooming. I reassure myself that they can assume more responsibility around the house and help with basic chores like getting their own meals. It is good for them.
Voila! I approach the kids in the kitchen warily. The moment of impact is one to savor. As usual, it takes them awhile to notice that I’m in the room. They gasp at my transformation as I enjoy their astonishment for a few moments.
“Time to go,” I say. “Grab your stuff and we’ll just make it before the bell rings!”
The shock on their faces was a toss between amazement and fear. “But Mom! What about breakfast? We’ve been waiting. And where’s the homework you were supposed to sign? You didn’t bother to iron my shirt.”
In response to their grumbling, I say, “Sorry guys. We’ve got to go to school. But what do you think about how I look? Do I make you proud?” Shrugs and confusion fill their little faces. With the constant focus off of them, they do not know how to reply.
“You look better than usual, I guess,” mumbles Baggy Pants.
“Can I get some new clothes too?” asks Ms. Fashion.
Despite their attitude, I’ll proceed with the experiment a tiny bit longer and maybe learn something about myself in the process. Dressing up makes everyone feel nice. Who am I to judge others who take hours getting decked out? As a compromise, I’ll spend an extra ten minutes each morning in order to feel good about my appearance and please the kids at the same time. No more embarrassing moments in the carpool lane. No more bolting from the car, anxious to avoid their friends witnessing my slovenly ways.
And this morning, my son says, “Mom, your hair looks okay today.”
Now, that’s a compliment if I ever heard one. My daughter even praises my clothing choices and gives me two thumbs up. And that other over-dressed mother? Who cares! Despite the urge to press on the gas pedal a teeny bit when I see her at the crosswalk, I discover that she’s the inspiration I need to change my lazy style. Gotta go. I’ve got an appointment at Nordstrom for a full face and body makeover. Vroom! Vroom!