Disheveled, Beautiful, Perfect
I looked tired. And kind of old. I was wearing a black dress - isn't a little black dress supposed to be a wardrobe staple? Not this dress. It was a wrap dress designed for nursing and was cut way too low. I had frantically asked my mother-in-law if she could stitch together the top to make it a little less cleavage-y that morning. As she handed it back to me she said, "It's a little damp." That's because I had pulled it out of the clothes hamper and hurriedly wiped at the stains with a wet cloth. It was just a bit of spit up. Probably. Maybe the damp facecloth hadn't done the trick or the baby had stealthily spit up on me again, but the stains had seemingly multiplied. It wasn't hanging right. Stretched a little too tightly across the belly, the slit wasn't where it was supposed to be.
The black dress was partially covered by a tan-coloured, wrinkled trench. It was supposed to be wrinkly. Probably. I was wearing the silver locket engraved with baby's initial and birthdate that my sister had gifted me. The locket was beautiful, but the multi-coloured beaded teething necklace that it was coupled with was somewhat distracting. My feet were adorned with Birkenstock thongs. Comfortable, but certainly not aesthetically pleasing, especially combined with the stained dress and disheveled trench.
A stereotypical hot mess mom.
I had just seen one of my favourite musicals, Les Miserables, with my mom and sister in Edmonton. Jon came with me and watched baby while I was at the play. Afterward, we all met just off Whyte Ave for dinner. The baby was intermittently fussy, and when she had cycled through each person at the table and each toy that we had packed, it was time for a walk. We walked a few steps and stopped to look at store fronts, all closed for the evening. Suddenly, I found myself standing in front of one of my old haunts, the boutique clothing store, Bamboo Ballroom. I first discovered it when I was going to university and have tried to pop in when visiting the city since.
It was as I looked at the impossibly thin, stylishly clad mannequins and rows of beautiful clothes - clothes that would never fit me now - that I caught my reflection. My old, tired-looking, frumpy reflection. And I laughed.
I'd spent a lot of years worrying about my looks - my skin, my hair, my weight - oh, my weight. A lot of time obsessing over food, dieting, counting calories - calories consumed, calories burned during gruelling workouts, calories in, calories out. A lot of money - on lotions and potions, exlixirs that promised to eliminate acne and shrink pores, powders to fill in eyebrows and contour cheekbones. A lot of negative self-talk. And you know what? It was never enough. Because it's not supposed to be. Because happy people who like themselves don't make the best consumers.
And I realized I was over it. So over it. I had just watched an amazing theatre production and enjoyed a meal with my family. I wasn't consumed with counting calories. My dress was not flattering, and it even had a few stains. It was not purchased from a boutique, but was bought second-hand from one of those Facebook mommy groups. And, although I hope to shop at Bamboo Ballroom again, and I still appreciate fashion and make-up and beautiful things, it's just not my main focus at the moment.
As I peered in that shop window, framed against a background of pretty clothes, I saw myself looking back. And I also saw my daughter. My beautiful, perfect daughter. She gave me a gummy, sparkly-eyed smile and thought I was beautiful and perfect, too.