The other day I went on a business trip, and suddenly realized I had nothing to wear. I wasn’t attending an Internet industry event where jeans and a t-shirt are the norm and where I spice up my look with a pink tiara and boa. No, this was a trip to meet with members of a nonprofit board that had extended an invitation for me to join. I was about to meet with…grownups.
The night before I had laid out a straight khaki skirt and red three-quarter sleeve turtleneck to wear on the plane along with sneakers and then packed a pair of black closed-toe mules. In the early morning, I squeezed my mommy hips and mommy jelly belly into the skirt - thank goodness for stretch material - pulled on the top, and set off for the airport.
I happened to look down at my skirt while heading to my car and noticed that the liner of the skirt was showing. Apparently my lack of laundry skills caused the skirt portion to shrink to a good inch and a half above the skirt liner. I figured I could jerry-rig something with masking tape or duct tape so made a mental note to stop by Wal-mart to get a quick fix-it tool. Then I glanced down at my skirt again as I was getting into my car. There was a stain smack dab in the middle of it.
Oh, yes, I remember that stain well. Some kind of baby gruel from a few years back that I scrubbed and scrubbed and treated with stain remover and that apparently left a bleached out area with a faded spot in the middle. Unacceptable, I thought as I raced into the house for my backup skirt - a dark teal, above-the-knee number that resembled cargo pants. I squeezed my mommy hips and mommy jelly belly into that skirt and figured it would have to do.
As I hurried to the car, the skirt began creeping up my thighs until it was bunched practically to my crotch. I envisioned sitting in a board room with sophisticated, intelligent people talking about sophisticated, complex issues giving everyone a Sharon Stone peekaboo show. Not good.
I checked the time and calculated that if I headed down a particular road to the airport, I’d pass Target along the way. I knew they had clothes I’d like, however, I had no idea if they were open at 7:00am. It was worth a shot. I got into the car with my skirt hiked up around my upper thighs and drove purposefully to Target. It was closed.
Not ready to give up, I recalculated time, current location and the location of the nearest Wal-mart with my handy iPhone Google Maps app and raced there. I wiggle-walked to the store, holding my skirt down on either side to make sure I didn’t flash anyone, and headed straight for the Ladies clothing section.
“Where are your professional clothes?” I asked the woman behind the fitting room counter. She looked at me as if I had two heads.
“Well, we have a few things,” she replied. “But very few. We’ve been trying to get more in here but they aren’t sending anything.”
She led me to a paltry display of a few George-branded tops, a pair of slacks and several skirts - a black one and one with dark wine and navy flowers. I knew trying slacks on at this point would be not only a time-suck but an exercise in body self-loathing, so I grabbed both skirts and ran to cash register. Once in the parking lot, I opened the driver door and slid the flowered skirt up under my cargo skirt. Then I unzipped and wriggled out of the cargo skirt. Next, because Wal-mart no longer carries slips to go under skirts because they don’t think slips are wanted anymore by women who shop there, I slid the black skirt under the flowered skirt to look like an intentional double hem.
As I admired my last-minute solution, I noted the man in the pickup truck in the parking space behind me who was now starting up his engine with a final glance in his side view mirror. I flashed back in my mind wondering how much of my underwear I may have flashed him as I made my quick change. I cringed, got into my car quickly, and locked the door. At least I looked a little more like a professional businesswoman. Plus the skirt length and cut was extremely forgiving to my mommy hips and mommy jelly belly so I felt less self-conscious.
The Hair Cut
But wait, it doesn’t end there. My struggle to be a professional businesswoman while in the throes of being a 45-year-old mother of a 4-year old who hasn’t exercised enough or kept up my wardrobe or taken care of my hair continues.
My hair. I have been through hell and back with this head of hair. I had massive hair loss after pregnancy that continued due to a hormonal imbalance caused by being pregnant later in life that then triggered peri-menopause symptoms not to mention the medication I was on for post partum depression that said in the finest of fine prints that it causes hair loss. I learned not to be so in love with my hair anymore because there was less and less of it.
In the past year, I’ve been getting bright, hot pink stripes in my hair. It was my way of trying to liven up a very unlively-feeling me. So when I went into the hair salon this week to get my hair done by a fabulous hair dresser recommended by all my 30-something friends who have fabulous hair, the first thing out of my mouth was:
“I’m a middle aged woman, and I want to feel hip, relevant and even sexy, if you can do that.”
The stylist laughed at me and assured me that the cause of all my woes wasn’t hair loss but hair damage from the pink striping. Then he proceeded to cut, color and condition my hair into glorious-ness, sans the hot pink. I had beautiful, silky, shiny brown hair with a cut that he blew dry into a Marilyn Monroe-esque style - not me, but he assured me that all I would need to do was to wash, condition, scrunch and let dry naturally, and I’d have that tousled look I always strive for that comes out as frizz.
I walked out of that hair salon feeling a bit overdone - hey, I don’t even own a hairdryer or curling iron - but also feeling like I actually had stylish hair. It moved, it bounced, it twinkled, it shimmered, and it framed my face like a haircut instead of a rat’s nest of straw. Afterward, my best friend and our 4-year-old daughters went out to eat at a local restaurant. I found myself strutting a little more confidently as I brought my daughter to the restroom to go potty. And I took a peek of myself in the mirror as she was washing her hands and thought “I look like a grownup…like a…woman.”
In just one hair-styling session I had a glimpse of a hip, relevant, even sexy woman who for a brief moment didn’t resemble the harried, frizz-haired, frumpy mommy that I had become. And I liked it.
What are some of your mom-meets-workingwoman dilemmas? Please share!