Sunday, May 16, 2010


A few weeks ago I was home with the kids on one of their many days off from school. I decided to take them to the mall to get some spring shopping done. We were about to go someplace warm for spring break and they needed some clothes that fit. I was feeling really run-down from a nasty, but certainly not out of the ordinary combination of viral and bacterial infections. I had my hair in a particularly severe and unflattering half-pulled up, kind of position. I was dragging myself through the mall, propped up on unhealthy doses of Advil, sporting an oversized black t-shirt and yoga pants.

Natasha, on the other hand, was at her youthful, uber-confident, excited best. I tried to recreate the image above, but she looked even sassier with the Gap sunglasses - the ones above are mine, and more sedated. She had picked out a sleeveless black dress with silver adornments, and was wearing it already while we were looking for bathing suits. I was ok with the black, but vetoed a leather jacket and she was of course angry with me about that. She found some sunglasses and put them on too. In the dressing room she looked at herself in the mirror, instinctively pulled the neckline into a stylish mock turtleneck. She conveyed an image of pure confidence and style. We all stared in the mirror. There we were, a contrast in everything. She looking beautiful, vibrant and diva-ish...much more mature than 7. Me looking old, haggard and a shambles. I did not look fat. But that was little consolation. Alex was just goofing around and admiring his cool sister.

I decided to get my act together: go to the doctor, get some antibiotics, insist upon some rest, and pull myself together by showering, styling my hair, and putting on half-decent clothes. And I vowed to treat myself to a pre-vacation pedicure.

I don't really have a larger point to this post. It was just one of those out of body moments where you realize life is imitating art. It really was a stereotypical movie-like moment. The contrast between young and old, the odd camera angle of the fitting-room mirror. The no-words-are-necessary turning-point image that speaks 1000 words. The image staring back at me in the mirror is seared into my brain. I was really pretty shocked with my appearance. And it didn't matter that I'm massively fit and at a great weight. A person still needs a comb and some make-up and to get out of the jog bra sometimes! I don't always look like that. Today I'm healthy, my hair is clean, I'm wearing a nice bright colors, my outfit is coordinated and even, shockingly for me, well accessorized.

And as for Natasha, I wonder how many more years of bathing suit shopping we have before she starts over-criticizing every part of her body. Currently she is only interested in the pattern and cut of the suit, the skimpier and flashier the better. I had to veto a black and pink leopard-print bikini at Lord and Taylor. When will she imagine fat thighs and a big booty? She may always be happy with her body, as she does a lot of exercise and her self-confidence is remarkable. But that would be the rare exception and I don't expect it. I don't think she'll hit the 9-yr-old self-confidence dip that is so well documented. But you never know. If she does, I will imagine that diva image of her in the Gap dressing room throughout her tween and teenage years and hope it returns when she hits the more reasonable age of post-adolescence. By then I'll be old and just wanting grand kids.

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