It came to me last Friday night, out of the blue, and I haven’t felt quite the same since. My wife and I had driven up to see my Mom for her 70th birthday celebration. We had cut it close to leave on time and it was a given we were going to hit traffic right at rush hour in the Bay Area.
I was doing my last minute panic pandemonium routine, complete with hair moment meltdown because that “Super Easy Updo for Long Hair” tutorial on You Tube failed to take into account the ADD Girl who was going to try this out in her last 15 minutes of getting out the door. Fabulous!
When I am in this tilt-a-whirl of self loathing and frenetic readying, I don’t even want my wife to make eye contact with me. I revert to a toddler stage where if I turn around and dress, she can’t possibly see me, because I’m not looking at her. She has put up with this for years, and by now, she knows the drill. I am sure the Tornado drill “duck and cover” was developed by a spouse trying to stay out of the way before the high heel shoes went flying.
I settled on my usual “Rat’s Nest” hair style, and headed to the garage hyperventilating as though that would make our time travel any faster. My wife came out in jeans and a turtle neck and boots, looking fabulous and non plussed about the whole thing. Me and my cocktail dress were thrown off by this casual affair.
“Why did you change out of your dress pants?” I shrieked between paper bag intervals.
“They didn’t fit. I changed.” Her reply was simple and real, which is what I have always loved about her.
I fussed about my make up in the passenger seat, and my wife pretended not to notice that I had the GPS spitting out hostile directions to my parents house that we have known by heart for quite awhile. Finally, I calmed a bit and said “Thank you for being the calm one.”
Later on we arrived to the house about 2 minutes late, and all my worrying had yet to make any real positive impact to our ETA. My Dad had big plans for the evening, with a limo ride to take us to Mom’s favorite restaurant with 3 other couples and dear friends. They were busy pouring champagne and heartily welcomed us to join them.
Soon it was time to go and we had the driver come in and take our photos. My mother looked beautiful, and as always a trait in our family, much younger than her 70 years. She smiled warmly, surrounded by friends, balloons, her adoring husband and me and my wife.
In the limo, these couples of some prominence themselves acted like giddy teenagers, taking selfies and taking photos of each other. We giggled and laughed at the fun of the 80’s light fantastic theme inside the limo, and wondered in the red liquid in the glass bottles in front of us really was hard liquor or just for looks.
The restaurant was exquisite. We wined and dined through decadent meals that I had only heard about on the Splendid Table on NPR. The wine was superb, and the conversation lively. There was pure joy in conversations. Couples talked about their travels, experiences in their professions, parenting, truffles, and vacations they had taken with my parents. They seemed the perfect “Vacationing couples” and longtime friends. People you would never get sick of, or have to make apologies for later.
Okay, my “epiphany” didn’t hit me till the morning…along with a slight hangover. Mom and Dad were already up, going through the photos from the night before and Mom was grousing about how she looked in the group photo. She wasn’t sure she wanted that photo posted. My Mother! She is beautiful, an accomplished author, with a masters degree, and courageous world traveler by air and sea. And yet, it felt so familiar.
I often repeated this same gesture; many times deleting the offending image before it could be seen by the likes of my adoring Facebook audience. My face was too red and ruddy whenever I drank, owing to my Swedish heritage, or the Irish side, I wasn’t sure, but both liked to drink. Was my forehead always that big? Why did my eyebrows always disappear under bright light? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me I looked so hideous? Were my friends deliberately suggesting restaurants with “low lighting” so they could bear the look of me?
And then I thought “If I sent myself a Friend Request on Facebook, and my profile was full of all of this negative talk about me, cruel remarks about my body, my face, my worthiness as a human being…would I accept this request?”
What kind of person wants to be around someone so heartless, thoughtless, and above all, superficial? So what if my thighs touch under my dress! So what if one of my eye’s always closes faster than the other one in pictures. To my knowledge, I have yet to have discovered that I lost an important friend for life for having ruddy cheeks, funky eye tempo, or chubby thighs. My belly sticking out? Yep, got it. It’s called brie and happy. It’s also made me the curvy girl I always wanted to be.
It is my goal to make friends with myself. Friends don’t trash each other to feel better. It’s never made me feel any better to trash myself and I’m going to stop doing it: a better body, a better mom, a more accomplished writer. I need to take a cue from my wife, who I consider one of the most beautiful creatures in the whole world and be comfortable in my own skin.
I also hope my mother reads this. And my daughter. We are done being our own worst frenemy. We are beautiful, exactly the way we are. Post.