Caroline says I have a permanent scowl on my face.
“I never see you smiling,” she burst one day.
I looked up from the diaper I was changing/floor I was sweeping/laundry I was washing/child I was chastising (I don’t recall, but surely I was doing one of these many things) and met her concerned gaze. Instantly, I felt my forehead relax and un-slit my eyes.
It was true. My brow is always furrowed and my jaw is always tight. My face had gradually morphed into a perpetual expression of disgust/disdain/forlorn and I hadn’t even realized it. I had no answer for Caroline, and as if reading my thoughts in those brief seconds, she answered for me.
“I guess it’s kinda hard when you’re spending your days slogging through mountains of poop.”
“Yeah,” I said. “It is.”
I used to smile all the time. I mean, I was living life footloose and fancy free as a 20-something single. Why wouldn’t I be smiling?
Later that night, I walked into my closet and looked through all the outfits I hadn’t worn in years. Low rise jeans. Belly baring T-shirts. Clinging dresses that still managed to leave enough to the imagination. Spiked heels with 0 support. I finally made the decision to throw them out. I used to follow fashion religiously, keeping up with every whimsical trend; but I am now a reformed utilitarian. Even if I did get back to my pre-pre-pre-pre pregnancy weight (that’s 4 ‘pres’; please keep up), how ridiculous would I look as a 33 year old woman geared up in sequined Old Navy Fleur de Lis and with the back of my trousers racing towards my crack? With her 4 kids in tow? Not a good look.
The death knell on my Cool sounded when I came to understand that my music choices were to be (and are) dictated by how the lyrics of any song in question would sound in the tone of Aya’a squeaking, cracking soprano. Equally, each item of clothing I adorn my body with is chosen by giving special consideration to their possible appearance after any number of probable mishaps during the course of the day. Most of these mishaps will include a child’s bodily fluid of one sort or another.
I finally realized that any sense of ‘cool’ I had garnered in my teens and 20’s had died and gone to Hell when I went to a party this weekend – a party at Chuck E. Cheese, mind you. (I don’t have time for adult frivolity anymore.) Audry, Aya’s pre-school classmate was turning 5, and she invited all her classroom friends. For anyone who’s ever been to CEC on a Saturday, you know it’s a zoo. We got there at 12, when everyone in the N. Fulton area decided to pour in at once. Trying to make myself feel better by looking better, I opted to wear a spaghetti strapped maxi dress, which in turn required a strapless bra. It became clear very quickly that this was a poor decision, as every running child and rambling employee stepped on the hem of my dress…exposing my breasts. Liya, who I was forced to take along and therefore forced to hold on my hip, ALSO found it necessary to pull on the already plunging neckline of my dress…and therefore exposing my breasts.
I looked around at all the parents who had come to the party. Despite their best efforts, they looked equally exhausted. One woman looked like she had given up on any sense of cool half a decade ago and was wearing a puke green t-shirt, oatmeal colored shorts, and those Gawd-awful Abbadabba’s that they on sell in Roswell, GA. She didn’t even bother to throw on lip gloss. After CEC, she had to take her son to a Karate Party, and then get back on the Mommie hamster wheel and run a trillion errands. Her outfit made sense. Mine did not.
I looked up at Audry’s parents, Melissa and Jake. They were both blond, and I assume very athletic in their pre-parental life. He was tall and jovial, and she had the build of someone who used to be very petite. I sat fanning myself, and she caught my gaze.
“Hot?” she asked.
“Yeah!” I said sheepishly. “I get hot very easily these days.”
Her eyes widened.
“Me too!” she ‘whispered’ above the din of screaming children. “I thought I was going through the change. It was so bad, I went and talked to my doc about it.”
“Yeah,” she continued. “It never used to happen before I had kids…”
Her voice trailed off, as we turned our attention to our children who were devouring a hitherto very beautifully decorated cake.
Jake was joking around with the staff and guests. He was wearing ‘dad jean shorts’, with white tube socks and blue and white Asics. His multi-colored striped polo shirt rounded out the outfit. This is a man who looked like he probably used to drive a Porsche, and with reckless abandon; but today we arrived in the parking lot at the same time, as he carefully pulled up with in a black 2009 Jeep. That’s about as pimpin’ as he’s gonna get, I’m sure.
The party was just 2 hours long, but most of us left with 20 minutes to spare. I was exhausted just being there and wanted to go home and take a nap (which only happens in my most fanciful dreams). By 9 pm I’d be asleep, and the next morning I would be back on the hamster wheel.
With the birth of my children came the death of my cool. I’ve paid a steep price and lost a great deal (flat abs, free time, thousands of dollars…). But in the end, it’s all worth it – because one day THEY’RE going to have kids, and my snotty, whining grandchild(ren) is going to rob THEM of all the hipness they once possessed as well.
And I’m going to be there pointing, laughing and mocking the whole time.
Reader: For your homework today, your job is to think and list 5 people with kids whom you would describe as “cool”, “modern” and just over all “with it”. (No part time/ weekend parents. They don’t count.) Bet you can’t.