“It’s kind of surprising when you look at our beautiful house, that we live here.” My daughter said to me a few weeks ago. I paused. No matter how you slice this sentence, it is NOT a complement, except maybe to the house.
“Really?” I said. “Please explain.”
“Our house is so nice,” she continued. “And we dress like this.”
“I dress nicely,” I said. Then I looked down at my 3 day old workout clothes and thought about my uncombed hair. “…sometimes.” I added. “I look like a healthy mom who works out.”
“Sure, Mom.” She replied. And so the teen years begin at age nine.
Like many moms, I love fashion. Love to shop. Love to dress up and look nice. But the realities of my day to day schedule don’t make wearing heels and skirts sensible. I blame Dance Camp and Downton Abbey, for this drift between my daughter’s perception of me and me. On Downton Abbey, the PBS series about a wealthy English aristocratic family and their swank abode, they dress up for dinner complete with gloves and jewels even when it is only the family. Who does that?
We had been letting her watch the show figuring it was PBS. It should be safe right? Then one day she asked us, “What’s a mistress, Mom?”
“Another name for girlfriend,” I explained and promptly outlawed unsupervised watching of the show.
This fashion rift also took place on the week of Dance Camp. Even though I am unemployed and pinching pennies, I signed my kids up for Dance Camp just to have a few hours free to job search. It seemed like a good idea, that is, until my son got kicked out.
In my defense, the registration form said Dance Camp was for both boys and girls. I was so excited to have both kids in one camp. It didn’t occur to me that learning “Hip Hop” was not enough to draw boys. I guess I’ve seen too many Kidz Bop videos where normal, well adjusted boys seem to delight in dancing. Reality check: My son was the only boy and he was not well adjusted about it. He was mad. “In a few more years you would thank me for this,” I said.
So since I had paid, I made him go. He paid me back in spades. My son has ADHD and sometimes finds it hard to control his impulses. It appears the music moved him so much that he took off his shirt, whipped it around over his head, ran up the bleachers and jumped off. Yes. Really.
I got the call. “Mrs. Moore, can you come get your son?” When you have the kid with ADHD you get used to the calls.
Like many moms, I feel better when I tell my friends my troubles. My friend Alex listened thoughtfully and added, “I’d have asked the Camp Director, ‘What kind of music are you playing there, anyway?”
My husband’s friend Don asked when self-expression got outlawed in this country.
The ironic treat is that two nights later I watched a group of boys at a baseball game do the same stunt and everyone was smiling at them. Where were they during Dance Camp? My son could have had his own boy band going.
Back to the fashion rift. For my daughter’s final performance (my son was at home), I noticed all the moms were dressed perky and cute. The girls too. Bows in hair. Pom-poms galore.
My daughter did fine but she didn’t look as comfortable as she does on the soccer field where her elbows are nicknamed, “Rock” and “Assault.” We were in a restaurant when she came up with the names. She meant to say “Rock” and “Salt.” But her dad heard “Assault.” My husband laughed so hard that she didn’t have the heart to correct him. I think he thought he’d finally gotten the linebacker he’d always dreamed of.
So anyway, at the dance performance, not one mom was in her workout clothes. Luckily I’d gotten the memo and wore a summer skirt. Still I felt inadequate. The solution? Next year, I’m thinking engineering camp. Maybe then my I’ll look fashionable in comparison.
Margee Moore is a marketing professional, job seeker and mother of two. Her book “Sleeping with the Laundry: Notes from the Mommy Track” is now available on Kindle.