Maria reached into the hamper and grabbed a pair of stockings.
"You wore them yesterday. They're dirty. Pick something else,'' I said.
She grabbed a clean pair without argument. Surprise. Surprise.
But, no more than 30 minutes later, we're in the car on the drive to school: "Mama, why did you tell me I couldn't wear the stockings from yesterday, but you have the same clothes on you wore yesterday?''
Snagged again by the Little Litigator.
I have no idea what to say as I look down at myself, at my yoga pants and wrinkled T-shirt. I look in the rear-view mirror at her and hem and haw.
"You are right,'' I say, finally. "I am wearing the same clothes I wore last night. I got up late and threw them on without thinking. When I get home, I will shower and change.''
"Good, because you are dirty,'' she declared. (I swear I heard a gavel.)
Truth is, I feel greasy and messy most mornings. Since I started getting up before the sun to get Maria to school, my standards have slowly slipped. At first I showered in the dark, got dressed in real clothes, put on make-up. These days, I am lucky to get a brassiere on and I regularly fight the urge to drive the miles in my slippers. (That would be Cubanita Heresy and I would surely get kicked out of the Hot Latin Moms Club.)
But most days now I walk out of the house wearing "comfortable" clothing that really should have been in my donation pile years ago. Every time I drive up to the school's curb looking run-over, I pray no one will notice and that Maria's teacher will not ask me to come in for a few minutes. But I must not care too much because I've gone right out afterward and run errands -- hoping, of course, that I don't run into an old colleague.
I've been thinking a lot about my slide into house frau-ness since Maria pointed out my faux pas this week. It appears I have become something that I used to raise my eyebrows at. I was always surprised to hear mom friends talk about skipping showers, wearing the same clothes for days, but me leave the house looking like Nick Nolte's mug shot? Never, I would say. Ha! That water is so polluted.
And so that's the thing about mothering, isn't it? The stuff you thought you'd never do, you do. The stuff you planned to do, you may not do. And, the rules change all the time. Standards change -- and not always for the better.
I blame exhaustion for my steep decline. Sheer, mind-numbing, exhaustion-induced laziness.
Or maybe it is some sort of laissez faire attitude that gets more pronounced with age and self-confidence? Hey, maybe rather than being exhausted and lazy, I'm really just more sure of myself? Perhaps. Need to ponder some more.
The only thing I am sure about right now: I need a shower.