Monday, September 03, 2007

Double exposure

I spend Labor Day with my grown daughter. Once again, she volunteers to be my personal shopper and David, bless him, minds the girls while Jenn and I scoot off to a local shopping mall to boost the economy. Armed with one credit card, we manage to find sale items for the entire family: girls’ back-to-school dresses, David’s back-to-university shirts, a new school wardrobe for me and a few nifty tops and leopard-print dress for Jenn (yes, it looks much better than it sounds).

I have been self-conscious of my weight gain and standing in front of a dressing-room mirror, trying on clothes, is an exercise in humility and reality.

“Mom, what is … is.”

I struggle to come to grips with my shape and allow myself to be seen by a daughter whose own shape in the dressing-room mirror reminds me so much of the woman I was at her age. She looks lovely in the new tops and dress. I feel melancholy at the realization that who she is now is what I was then.

Suddenly, I’m a grandmother in my sixties and my daughter is heading toward her forties. My daughter is the only one to see me exposed like this. She brings all sorts of clothes into the dressing room and I wrestle with the image looking back at me, with who I am, am not.

I remember my mom, at the age of 71, telling me that the person she saw in the mirror was not the person she felt like … in her mind, she was still very much the young, vibrant, shapely woman of her youth.

I want to feel like that. I want to let the younger, dark-haired, thinner version of myself come out to play. Today, however, she stays hidden.

Today, I must be content with reality.

A dressing-room mirror is a harsh mistress.


Terry said...

awww. yeah. I know. I know.

kirsty said...

Ah, Mater, just this evening I was talking with friends about the changes one suffers as one ages. I am 42 and was bemoaning my lack of appreciation of my 18 yr old body. I suppose at 60 I'll look back at THIS body and wish I had appreciated it more!

Lisa Milton said...

Those dressing room lights are evil. You are lovely. I like what is.

slouching mom said...

You have the warmest, most endearing face of practically anyone I know. That's what counts, right?

And I so feel your pain. I turn forty in eight weeks, and just in time for that blessed event, my thyroid has shut down, and a big ole fibroid has taken up residence in my baby-making house.


The Mater said...

Love your comments, reflections, and compliments. Thanks!

My mother died when I was 41 and, after that, I felt older, much older. Does the sweet bird of youth turn into a wise old owl, eh?

Patti McCracken said...

I've never had to give a second thought about my weight, and before you reach for the rope to strangle me with, read on:

After some abdominal surgery three years ago, for the first time I had some weight around my middle. I actually liked it. Thought it gave me curves.

In my little Austrian cottage, the only mirror I have is on the medicine cabinet, and the lighting isn't so great... so imagine my surprise...

...when I met the mirror in my Algiers apartment that told the bold truth. I had gained too much weight, and added countless, countless, countless wrinkles. I sat on the floor and cried.

And resolved to get to a fitness center. It's been a year already and where's the fitness center? Still there, and I'm still not in it.

Hey, c'est la vie

Alison said...

Honestly, Mater? You look younger than the day I met you. I kid you not.

Amy York said...

You are beautiful.
Those dressing room lights are definitely playing tricks with your eyes.

leigh said...

Why do we women spend so much time like this? This excrutiatingly painful self loathing that we do? (I am not exempt, though I really try.)

I remember very clearly one evening, lying in a bath shortly after my second daughter was born. I was really struggling with the extra weight that had yet to come off, and really suffering. Yes, suffering.

Then I had this weird epiphany: The leg I was holding aloft and staring to critically at was ME; it wasn't some disembodied objet d'art, it wasn't part of a mannequin. It was me, my flesh, my body. And I very suddenly, and very clear, realized the foolishness and the damage I was doing to myself in my despair over my shape. And I was genuinely happy for some time after. (Until, of course, my then-husband complained that I still hadn't lost the baby weight a few days later. Then my revelation went all to hell.)

You are lovely, and loving, and alive. Don't let anyone--especially yourself--tell you any different.

BOSSY said...

Inside Bossy still feels like a Zygote.

geogirl said...

Alas, I wasn't vibrant and shapely in my youth so I don't even have the memories. But despite not liking my looks...I still manage to like myself and I guess that's what counts.

Here's a little something that addresses this very topic. They actually shelled out the dough to air it during the superbowl last year...I was very impressed.

(ps - Mater I'm back. Did you get your e-mail fixed?)

Karen said...

You said it well, and are braver than I. I don't even try clothes on any more because my 18 year old body is all too suddenly too 33 in that fluorescently lighted floor length dressing room mirror.