I was at Starbucks the other day, and as I waited for my cup, I took stock of the situation. You know, I was people-watching. I looked at the girl in front of me in line and as I pondered her toes, which were visible to me because she had flip flops on, I thought, WTF lady? Your toes are in bad shape. I don't want to see this pre-coffee. Get a pedicure, or do like I do, which is go with a closed toe shoe.
And that got me thinking about my toes, which are in fact, not as pedicured as they probably should be, and yet how many times have I thrown on my flips and rushed out of the house to run around town and do whatever it is I have to do? And how many other people have looked down at my toes and thought, Jesus lady, cover those dry little sausages up? I caught a glimpse of my own toes in a mirror in the shoe section of a store I was in recently and I gave my own self the same scolding.
Which then got me thinking, how am I seen? What do people think of me when they look at me, my kids, my car, my clothes? How am I perceived by what I put out there every day? Are strangers and friends alike thinking, Not that outfit again? Or, Seriously, would some time with the flat iron kill her? Or, Does she honestly think that long sweater hides the circumference of that ass? Or worse, Does she really think that her smile hides the fact that she's a scribbly ball of stress?
I can't tell you how many days I've wrangled my curly hair back into a messy bun - I don't even have to think about it anymore, I just do it. And I sort of tell myself it looks stylish, like one of those pretty, it-looks-half-thought-about-but-it's-very-intentional messy buns you see on Pinterest or on the red carpet. But really, I fear it just makes me look as harried as I feel. Don't get me wrong, if I left my curly hair down for all to see, I would either look like Tim Lincecum or Charlize Theron's character in Monster, but with brown hair. So I don't have much of a choice at this time.
And speaking of colors of hair, Lord have mercy but the husband plucked FOUR gray hairs out of my head the other day. We both nearly shed a tear. I've avoided the gray up until now and been quite happy about it. So now I'm an OLD and quite possibly heavier version of Charlize Theron's character in Monster? Fabulous.
Back to the subject at hand. It feels like life zips by so fast. I can't believe it's already almost October and I barely got to savor September. Not one apple cider has been had yet. Nary a pumpkin bought. I need some cinnamon spice candles, pronto. I wake up each day, and am aware instantly of my brain being so full of what's on tap for that day, or whether the tap water is safe to drink from the old pipes in this old, old house, or who is tapping their toes, tap, tap, TAP, waiting for me to take them to school, or fill his bowl with fresh water, or fold the laundry so he can go on his next business trip, that I spend my days in a fog, just roaming from one calendar reminder to the next.
It barely occurs to me that while I feel the way I always have, I'm not 23 anymore. Not even close. And that I should probably take care with what I put out into the visual universe every day, apart from the mandatory, which is making sure the last thing my kids see before they scamper off to class is a smile on their mama's face. I admire those put together ladies who are in their smart skinny jeans, with their stylish flats, darling handbags, and perfectly draped sweaters over fitted tanks (all perched on a fit body, accessorized with glittering diamond rings and shiny hair). I don't quite remember the last time I cleaned my wedding rings, or looked at my hair and thought, perfect, just like silk.
I do, however, draw the line at flip flops in the office. I could be freshly pedicured and I would still close the toes up for work. I recently worked with a ridiculous woman who spent her day raving about how fabulous she is, and she did this while wearing flip flops, which fully exposed her hammer toes. Her feet are JACKED and she's kind of an asshole and while I might not be on the glam edge of the spectrum, I don't want to be on the she-shouldn't-wear-flip-flops-in-public side either.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, I hope I put good - if not always stylish - juju out into the universe. I hope I'm seen for who I am and what I stand for, and not as a story that begins with what I've thrown on my body that day. I hope I'm respected as a strong woman who's body has borne two healthy girls, rather than one who should drop two healthy sizes.
I'm far from an insecure middle school girl and I realize I can't control what people think when they see me. I'm healthy and strong and loved and important. And because I do have control over my Lincecum hairdo, I think I'm going to be a little less absentminded when it comes to what I throw out into the universe every day, because hammer toes can hijack anyone's good time.
You'll still see my hair pulled back, and my girls will still see a smile before the bell rings, because that's how I do, but the next time you go to the indie coffee shop, look for a girl who opted for lip gloss over Chapstick and give her some mad props.
PS: As I was proofreading this post, Nine ran over to me grinning and handed me a note. Know what it said? "Mommy, you're as lovely as a heart.". Maybe she was inspired by the fact that I'm not wearing flip flops, or maybe she's seen me in these tights so many times, she thinks it's my Mom uniform and the familiarity feels good to her. Either way, suddenly the day is filled with very good juju. Outhale.