I dress up for my daughter. On days that I don’t see her, just showering and putting clothes on seems sufficient. Combing my hair – optional. Make-up – what? But on the days I see her, I shave, tweeze, apply makeup, coordinate clothes so that they not only match but look CUTE and make sure my nails are done. And, I curl my hair. And this just to pick her and her friend up from school and drop them off at dance.
When I was fifteen, the last person I wanted to be seen with was my mom. When I was eight, she was the most beautiful person in the entire world to me. I would sneak into her bedroom and look at all the wonderful things on her vanity and pretend to be her. I helped myself to the mysterious bottles inside the cabinet that smelled like her and brushed my hair out, looking at each angle and beyond in the infinity mirrors. By the time my image got so small that you couldn’t see it, my eyes would shift and I would work my way back to the stool I was sitting on. Yep, still not my mom.
Somewhere between then and age fifteen, my mom became one of my least favorite people. And she was SO dumb. She knew nothing about me and my life. She only wanted to hold me back and make me wear stupid clothes and go to stupid church activities with a whole room full of other people just like her that had no idea about real life. I didn’t want to go places with her. I only spoke to her when it was absolutely necessary. Basically, she had nothing to offer me. And, she wore polyester pants and floral print shirts. I mean, c’mon.
It took me until my late 20s to grow up and figure out how great my mom is. I look back on all those wasted years and feel a little gypped. She has so much wisdom to share and she’s quick witted and funny. We could have been hanging out all this time. Think of all the stuff I missed while being so dense. I mean, c’mon!
The fact that my daughter, who is fifteen, chooses to invite me into her world and routinely asks me to hang out with her, is amazing to me. I feel like I have been given this gift and I cherish it. And so, I dress for her. I want her to feel good about how I look when she takes me places. I would never want her to feel embarrassed and have that be the reason she doesn’t want me along.
I’m sure there are other reasons she might not want to include me, like when I start to sing to Bananarama while shopping in the RiteAid or try clothes on over my clothes so I don’t have to go to the dressing room on the other side of the store or when her friends want to invite boys over so they can make out on the couch and I just happen to speak to that girl’s mom totally, completely by chance that afternoon and mention that the boyfriend is coming over and she’s welcome to stop by at about 11pm and bring me that cd she borrowed. It’s a cruel summer, man. THAT kind of stuff – totally acceptable reasons for her not to want to invite me to hang.
Sometimes what I think looks good and what she thinks looks good are slightly different. I’ll come down the stairs and ask her what she thinks. Ever the diplomat, she’ll cock her head to the side, put on a little smile and say, ‘Pretty good! Ummm, do you have a shirt that is a little less old-woman looking and a little more, oh I don’t know, cute?’ And in that moment, I want to apologize to my mother for making fun of her floral-print shirts. But, I smile at my daughter and invite her to come and help me pick something else. After rejecting the midriff showing and too-tight selections, we inevitably come across something we can both agree on. It does not involve flowers.
But, no matter what clothes I wear or how cute I curl my hair and how much I beg it to stop doing that odd and distracting swoosh thing near my right ear, I am acutely aware that I am one very lucky mom to be invited into the inner sanctum of teenage girls. I get to hear about how they really feel about sex and drinking and drugs and cliques and school and life and politics. I am continually surprised at how much some of them seem to feel about things that I hadn’t even heard of at their age, much less have an opinion on.
I am by no means The Cool Mom. I will call your parents if you use my daughter for an excuse to have sex with your boyfriend at the park. And, I will tell you that even though you like to call me Mom, and give me a hug when you see me, you are totally missing out if you don’t hang out with your own mom, who loves you like nobody’s business and cares more about you than anyone else could in the entire world. And possibly, wears polyester pants, but, dude. C’mon!