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Beautiful Mom

She could have been Miss America-Western Hemisphere-Earth-Galaxy-Universe that night as she smoothed Robin’s Egg Blue powder over her eyelids and told me it was called “eye shadow”. She stroked red cream on her lips and cheeks, and she made her eyelashes long and black with a fuzzy stick dipped into a pink tube. She wore a shiny blue and black dress and strappy black high heels. I was in awe, stunned that the lady in the bathroom mirror was the same lady that made my cheese sandwiches and did the laundry. I was seven years old and I was swept up into the flurry and the ritual of watching a woman beautify herself. More importantly and profoundly, this beautiful woman in the mirror, smelling of L’Air du Temps, was my mother.

Girls have long watched their mothers dab on powder, dangle chandeliers from their earlobes, and spray their hair into cotton candy spun perfection. This is nothing new. But for daughters of moms that stay at home, these transformations are often startling and rare. That night in that bathroom I watched my mother go from brown-shoe wearing to “Love Boat” passenger, ready to dine at Captain Stubing’s table. From my mommy to beautiful-lady-in-the-mirror.

It was that night that I realized that my mother did not exist to tie my shoes, cut up my meat, and drive the station wagon here, there, and everywhere. She gave herself so completely to our family that the mere act of adorning herself was revolutionary. The moment she ceased looking like my somewhat-frazzled and lovably familiar mommy I couldn’t help but see her in a different light. The dazzling queen before me couldn’t possibly change my baby brother’s diaper.

Tonight hubby and I are attending a semi-formal Christmas party and I will become the woman in the mirror. I have a little black dress. I have black heels, a pink satin wrap, and chandeliers to dangle from my ears. I have new lipstick in a color that would look garish at the grocery, but perfect by candlelight. I am getting my hair done by a professional, not trusting it to my fumbling fingers which can deftly arrange my daughter’s hair, but somehow make my own look like a bird’s nest built out of electrocuted Brillo pads.

No longer is my hallmark of glamour and sophistication housed on The Love Boat. My daughter has never seen Charo in an evening gown, but she has her own ideas of what makes a woman beautiful. I hope that I have measured up on the inside. Perhaps tonight I will astonish her from the outside, stopping to leave a ruby kiss on her cheek and to change her baby brother’s diaper.

6 comments to Beautiful Mom

  • Shayne

    You brought tears to my eyes! We’ve never met in person, but I know you are beautiful person both inside and out, and I’m sure your daughter thinks so too. Have fun at the party, and we can’t wait to see pictures of the little black dress with you in it!

  • Momofmopsy

    You brought tears to my eyes and I wonder where I was going when I empressed you with my “beauty”. I know you dazzled the kids and your husband and yes, we do want to see a picture. Love, Mom

  • Tracy (tjly)

    What a beautiful post Gretchen! I remember a few occassions when my SAHM got dressed up to go out and I still remember the scent of her Cover Girl powdered cheeks as she kissed me goodnight. Your words have such power to bring back memories like that. I’m sure you will look beautiful tonight, and we can’t wait to see pictures! Do you still think its va-va voom?

  • hamster

    I can’t wait to see pictures — you’ve always had an eye for the perfect dress and the ability to wear it. Also, please say more about the semi-formal event. Were pictures taken, and if so, what was the backdrop (cooky parrot? stagecoach?)? Were cocktails served? Were your feet killing you by the time you got home? Did some people take semi-formal to mean no sneakers? What was the ocassion? If ever your daughter thinks that you exist to change her baby brother’s diapers, please let me know and I’ll send her a letter regarding your other talents and exploits.

  • new sis to mopsy

    You were dazzling that evening, very much up to the standards of award accepting attire!

  • […] I am trotting out an old post, from December 10th, 2004. I have been thinking about this particular post today because hubby and I are going out to celebrate the number nine at a restaurant which does not have gum stuck under the table, I presume. It’s all about Beautiful Moms, from the inside, out. […]

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