Posted on | February 15, 2012 | 18 Comments
This morning, as I waited in the drive-thru line for my ridiculously named and priced coffee, I glanced up in my rearview mirror. Behind me, a woman sat in the driver’s seat of a pristine white Lexus SUV, running perfectly french-manicured fingers through perfectly straight, long, blonde hair. Her face was perfectly made up, but she touched it up anyway in her visor mirror, lifting her large framed sunglasses up onto her head to smooth a hand over her cheek and replace lipstick.
She was gorgeous.
Her car was gorgeous.
And I imagined that, yes, her life was pretty gorgeous as well.
When I first got pregnant with J, I was determined that I would be, well, let’s just put it out there… a MILF. I wanted to lose the babyweight and wear the right clothes and be the opposite of the frumpy soccer mom image that most of us have of what a “real mom” looks like. I wanted to be stylish. I wanted to be sexy. I wanted to be that woman in the Lexus behind me.
I tore my eyes away from her and scanned my own car; broken cds in the floorboard, a teddy bear left over from show and tell two weeks ago in the backseat; coupons scattered from a failed grocery store trip, yesterday’s coffee mug in the cup holder. My car was dirty.
I looked down at myself: hem line torn from my left pants leg where I got it caught on the heel of my shoe several weeks ago and never fixed it; a faded Kool-aid stain on my white shirt from months earlier; and the tell-tale pulled back hair that signals “I overslept and didn’t shower this morning, sorry.”
I watched her order her coffee, imagining that she was ordering something perfectly perfect and totally non-fat with only the barest hint of sugar. She smiled as she ordered, clearly pleased with her life, her face, her car and her coffee.
I wanted to throw my car in reverse and total the Lexus. I wanted her life. She was who I thought I’d be: stylish, calm, perfectly perfect in every way.
But as I watched her in my rearview mirror, something else caught my eye. It was just the barest tip, just the slightest rounding of gray in the right hand corner, but it caught my eye. I followed the curve down and around the carseat, safely strapped into my car. And suddenly, I saw my life very differently.
I could spend my time focusing on her, on that woman in the rearview mirror… on that woman I would never be; or I could spend my time focusing on this… this perfect little symbol of why my life was different. Maybe I could have a cleaner car and a better dressed me if I spent less time and money on him. Maybe I could drop him off at daycare an hour earlier to go to the gym and pick him up an hour later to get my nails done. Maybe I could spend his “book and toy money” on fancier clothes or a new car… but that wouldn’t be very me.
If I have to look in the rearview mirror at the lives I’ve left behind, I’d like to always have that reminder that I had today: the reminder that whispers “You are the you that you were born to be;” that sings “This is you. This is right. This is your perfect.” Because all too often I spend time wishing I were more like that woman in her Lexus and less like the woman I am…. less like the mother I am.
And I’m a damn good mother.
I may not be a MILF. I may not have the perfect car or perfect life for anyone else.
But I have the perfect life for me.
So I turned my attention to the drive ahead of me, nodding in time to the music on my iPod and tapping my not-so-well dressed foot against the floorboard of my not-so-well cleaned car.
This is me.
And I need to be living the life ahead; not wishing for the life behind.