In our typical rush to get out the door in the morning, I got everyone ready before myself. (Which is a huge mistake, if you know the whole “air mask on a plane” theory. With both girls dressed, hair brushed, and teeth sanitized, I finally took off my own PJ’s. I threw open my closet door. No. Too dressy. I opened up my “pajama/workout clothes” drawer. Perfect. My “bigger” running shorts and matching lavender tank top. I quickly assembled my outfit and glanced at the full-length mirror on the back of the closet door.
Oh. My. Gosh. My stomach. At only 7 weeks pregnant, it’s already popping over the elastic on my shorts like a busted can of biscuits. Not too long ago (like less than two months ago) I looked pretty darn good in that get-up. I mean, no Heidi Klum or anything, but I was happy. Now, I felt like Heidi Klump. And let’s not even talk about my hair and lack of makeup. Even though I’d gotten up early, I’d chosen to get a jump start on freelance projects rather than take a shower. By trying to act as a responsible adult, I now ran the risk of appearing in public giving the impression that I’m not even responsible for my personal hygiene. Sigh.
I almost contemplated cleaning myself up, but decided to take the unselfish route and actually attempt to get my kids to daycare on time. This has been a monumental task for us lately, as the preschooler changes outfits CONTINUALLY until I start pulling out my unwashed hair. FOR THE LOVE! She’s got sensory issues and if any little part of her clothing “feels goofy” (tag, seam, collar, etc.) she FLIPS OUT. Monday it was five complete outfit changes. Today, it was only three.
So when I finally appeared “dressed” and ready to go, I was not prepared for my daughter’s reaction. She has never, not ever, questioned my choice of clothing (unless I’m wearing none, and I tell her by gosh, it’s my house and I’ll walk around nekkid if I want to!). She looked me up and down, eyes landing on the white, fleshy part of my thighs protruding from the now-too-tight running shorts and said in her most mature voice, “Mom, are you really going to wear that? Really?”
I honestly can’t remember any emotion produced by this statement. I was too tired, and we were running too late to be emotional. But I had to respond. “I look FINE,” I told her. I shooed her out the door, and we skated into daycare right at the end of circle time. Whew. I have to admit I felt even more self conscious stepping out of my SUV when we pulled up. I knew I looked unkempt, but I just didn’t think my daughter would notice yet. Did I really look fine? Probably not. I mean, it’s a tough judgment call when you’re a writer and the only in-person interactions you have all day are with your dog (who, for the record, lays around all day without clothes on. Who is she to judge?).
So I guess I lied to my daughter. But I don’t care. I needed her to see that sometimes, punctuality is more important than appearance. That even though I looked like the distant female cousin of the Pillsbury Dough Boy stuffed into cheap running shorts from Sam’s, I still wasn’t ashamed to go out in public. It’s not the first time I’ve lied to her, and it won’t be the last. The ice cream truck is the “music truck” that follows kids around and tries to take their money (that’s kinda true) and I give myself a big round of applause every time I step on the scale because I’m getting “so big and strong.” (This was even pre baby.) I tell her she’s really fast on her bike. She’s not. But what am I, some kind of jerk?! I tell her I’m pretty, even when I don’t feel like it. I lie to my daughter, because I want her to have a fighting chance at a positive self image. I lie to my daughter because the world is brutally honest sometimes. I lie to my daughter because if you can really “fake it til you make it,” someday when I say, “I look fine, I feel pretty,” it will be the truth. (But for the record, I will never tell her the truth about the ice cream truck. Not ever.)