In our last few days of the summer, I decided to treat the kids to pizza. (Pizza is now a treat in my house as I have removed most of the dairy from our diets in order to improve the asthma and the seasonal allergy situations.) I pulled up at Pizza Hut and as I was getting out of the car, I watched my two oldest children, standing on the sidewalk, looking at me with sheer disgust on their faces. Of course, I looked behind me and made sure that someone or something wasn't coming to attack me in broad daylight. I saw nothing.
Me: "Why are you two looking like that?"
DOS (8-year old son): "Mommy, when you were getting your purse out of the car, this guy in a...in a..."
DOD (11-year-old daughter): "Red truck." (She's always available to fill in the details of a story.)
DOS: "...was looking at your bottom."
DOD: "Yeah and it was pretty disgusting. He even leaned out of the car."
Now, what am I supposed to do with this information?
How should I respond? As my children get older, I am often faced with similar situations. So, since we are late to pick up the most likely cold pizza, I drop the conversation. But they don't.
DYS (6-year-old younger son): "You guys, what were you talking to Mommy about?"
DOS: "This man was looking at her from behind and smiling."
DYS: "At her bottom? Eyyew. I would have smacked him with my Power Ranger if I would have saw that." (I'm not sure if this is chivalry talking or just the obsession with fantasy violence on television.)
Me (out of frustration, hoping to silence this): "What is the big deal? He didn't touch me or try to approach me. It's not like I'm beat down or something. You should be happy I look good when I'm out. He was just looking."
Uh-oh. I think I started something.
The looks on their faces were a combination of shock, horror and shame. Shocked that I admitted that the man wasn't doing anything wrong per se. Horrified that I could be a mom that other men, other than their father, could actually find attractive. Shamed because they should have dropped it and not carried this conversation into Pizza Hut.
Pizza Hut Worker: "These are all your kids? You are right, girl. You do look good. Hey, these are all her kids." (She's talking to another woman in the back, pointing to me and shaking her head.)
Me: "Thanks for the back-up. Have a great day."
Once in the car, my 11-year-old makes my point.
DOD: "That is true, Mommy. You could look like some people who just rolled out of bed and left the house. I'm glad you take time to put yourself together even though you put your makeup on in the car."
Now that my children are older, they notice how I carry myself, especially my daughter. I grew up in a house with three daughters, and my mother was always getting a fashion consultation. Actually, she still gets fashion consultations. We would comment on her hair, her shoes, her makeup (or the lack thereof) and we felt very strongly about how she looked in public. My sister would say stuff like, "Mom, if you are going to take me and my friends to the mall, could you please not wear that sailor suit with the matching hat? We don't live by the ocean."
Every time I go to visit my parents in Michigan, I ask my mother has she changed hairstylists because "the mushroom is so '80s." She, of course, gets a little upset, but she knows it's out of love. I now marvel at how great my mom looks as she's approaching her sixth decade of life. I'm thankful for those young-looking, physically fit genes. And my daughter will be too.
As a new mom, all of my energy was spent on caring for the baby. Now that I'm a seasoned mother, I realize that I need some of "me" back. I always kept myself together before children. I now have the daily intent of dispelling every myth out there about SAHMs being frumpy and lacking style. I fell off of the super flyy mama bandwagon for a little while, but now that I'm back, there will be no return to too big clothes and worn down shoes, even if it does mean that the kids sometimes eat cold pizza.