Standing in the fitting room of a trendy boutique in the West Village today, staring at myself in the mirror in an overpriced $105 cotton blue dress with embellishments, I had an ache in my heart for no one other than my mother.
Considering I’ve been out of grade school for quite some time now, and the whole “back-to-school” shopping trip ceased when I hit college, every Fall, my 20-something self misses spending a few hours at the mall with my mom. She used to set a budget and then let me go at it – jeans, sweaters, leggings, bras, shoes, school supplies, and anything else I needed was up to me to pick out. She’d go around holding up things that she thought would be “cute” and the older I became, the more I went against her suggestions and went with my own.
Maybe some have mothers who want them to wear turtlenecks and long skirts that cover every possible inch of their body, but my mom was never like that. She’s actually one of the best critics – she’ll be honest about how I look and she’s queen of selecting pieces that flatter my body. She never told me to hide my curves, but to dress for them. She should know how to do that after all – she’s the one who gave them to me. While we may disagree on certain picks, I trust her the most on fit, and I value her sweet sentiments over anyone else’s.
Our Girl’s Days Out weren’t limited to pre-September though, it was always our thing to do monthly. Sometimes we’d just go bouncing around to thrift stores, try a new restaurant downtown, and once I became an adult, I started dressing her instead. Since she’s been walking or biking a few miles daily for as long as I can remember, my mom is in great shape and for a 50-something (sorry mom!), I’d say she’s pretty smokin’.
But she doesn’t always think so. And she has to be reminded that wearing tight clothes isn’t out of the question in your middle-age, that being sexy doesn’t disappear because wrinkles appear, and that she deserves new clothes too. After spending a vast majority of her life treating me to special things and taking me on shopping trips, she often forgot herself – but now it’s her time.
She started esthetician school today and I couldn’t be more proud. I waited anxiously by my cell phone for her to get out of class, wondering how her day was and if she liked her classmates. She was nervous about the transition from working to taking a chance on something she’s always been interested in. Accounting is far from waxing and beauty treatments, but with her gentle touch and fiesty entrepreneurial-spirit, I’m confident that with a degree, she’ll be unstoppable.
While I was happy for her bright, new beginning, I was sad that I wasn’t there to share it with her. To treat her to a new outfit to wear to class that flatters her style and the softness she exudes without trying. To split a bottle of wine and chat about what she liked and didn’t, and dream up what kind of salon she would open up. To just see her beaming and brave, being the woman I’ve always known was inside of her, but she was afraid to face.
It’s funny how tables turn and how eventually, we end up parenting out parents a bit. Or maybe they just become our friends because they’ve been befriending us our entire lives. And just like they have to with us or we have to with a childhood friend that can’t come along for our ride, we have to learn how to let them go. How to support their new endeavors that don’t involves us or our day-to-day lives that don’t include one another, or the goals they’re reaching that we can’t quite see. How to stand on our own and let them stand as well.
How to pick out our own clothes with our own money for the brand new job we sought and found, while they start a brand new chapter of their lives by returning to school. How mothers continue to learn just as much as daughters, and how closing your eyes and sending a hug from the big city to the sweet countryside may seem impossible, somewhere, you just know she can feel it, too.