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Date Night

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.

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 who 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 who stay at home, these transformations are often startling and rare. That night in the 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 I realized 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 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.

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