Thursday, August 20, 2009

Southern Women Make Me Look Bad

Recently, I was at a five-year-old's birthday party at one of those inflatable play spaces. (For the third time in a month, but that's another story.) My friend and I were watching our daughters play when we noticed another mom, in full make-up and perfect hair, dripping with diamonds, wearing a short, tight black halter dress. She looked amazing and glamorous, like she was headed to an evening event with her husband, not standing around eating cold pizza at Bouncies-R-Us. My friend and I looked at each other, noted our baggy capri pants, tee shirts, and flip flops (the uniform of the SAHM), and wondered: is this what is expected of us at 9 AM? Is she over-dressed, or are we slobs?

Although both of us are from the West Coast, home of Hollywood and breast implants for teenagers, we now live in the South. Women here have a different idea of beauty. I have friends I've known over a year now, whom I've never seen in less than perfect hair and make-up, even at the pool. They wear cute dresses to Wal Mart, high heels to football games, and never leave home without their lipstick. Their daughters have bows in their hair on the soccer field. They are unfailingly polite and well-mannered.

Sometimes that makes me feel like Slacker Mom. My oldest refuses to wear bows, my youngest loses hers, and I don't even know when I last wore a pair of Manolo's. I honk at people who don't move when the light turns green. I do (sometimes) wear lipstick, but I don't know how to wear eyeliner on my lower lids or where to buy hairspray that actually keeps out the humidity. I'm more of a laid-back California mom: I wear flip flops, Uggs in the winter, tee shirts with my skirts, casual hair and make-up. I try to do my nails, but chlorine and dish water do a number on them, so I usually stick with at-home pedicures and skip the manicures altogether.

My grandmother NEVER left home without blush and lipstick on. I think she was a Southerner posing as a Midwestern farmer's daughter, but perhaps she was on to something. A little lipstick makes me feel just a bit more like a woman and a bit less like a mom. A little effort on my part goes a long way: the girls tell me, "Mommy! You look beautiful today!" and my husband appreciates the more-glamorous me when he gets home at night. It's a nice change from the sweat pants I wore to walk the dog.

Slacker Mom Says...when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Maybe it's time to embrace my inner Southerner. Who knows? Maybe this time next year I'll be sipping sweet tea on my front porch.

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