The Life in the Rearview Mirror

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.

Comments

18 Responses to “The Life in the Rearview Mirror”

  1. Alexmommy626
    February 15th, 2012 @ 10:44 am

    Isnt it amazing to realize that the person you were, the person you thought you would be, and the person you are now are completely different? I too was the girl with the pristine car, the perfectly manicured nails, the hair that was touched up every month, and now, well now I buy $5 press on nails at Target because I would much rather spend that hour with my son instead of at the salon. We are moms, damn good ones at that! Keep it up, I love your blog.

  2. Lawmomma77
    February 15th, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    Target has $5 press on nails?!?!?!? Are they awesome?? I may have to look into that… 🙂

  3. Alexmommy626
    February 15th, 2012 @ 10:44 am

    Isnt it amazing to realize that the person you were, the person you thought you would be, and the person you are now are completely different? I too was the girl with the pristine car, the perfectly manicured nails, the hair that was touched up every month, and now, well now I buy $5 press on nails at Target because I would much rather spend that hour with my son instead of at the salon. We are moms, damn good ones at that! Keep it up, I love your blog.

  4. J. Carr
    February 15th, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    Imagine how better off we’d all be if we spent time looking at our blessings instead of coveting the belongings of others. And also … just because the outside is pretty, doesn’t mean the inside is. Love ya, girlie, you’re doing a WONDERFUL job!!!!

  5. Law Momma
    February 15th, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    I know, right!? If only I could bottle up my happy feelings for today and pull them out when I’m all grumpy.

  6. molly
    February 15th, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    I love this. Absolutely love it. I sometimes watch people in cars too and feel inferior. I saw a woman in church the other day who was drop dead gorgeous. Perfect hair and make-up and trendy outfit. My hair was still wet because I didn’t have time to dry it. There’s never enough time allowed to look my best.

    But you’re right. We need to look ahead. Not behind. It’s just so hard to do sometimes.

  7. Law Momma
    February 15th, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    It’s so hard. I want to be trendy and stylish. I want to have time to look pretty and for people to look at me the way I looked at that woman. I am SO VAIN!!!

    But also, I love my life and wouldn’t trade it. So if it means that in order to have and love J, I have to be frumpy? Frumpy it is…. semi-reluctantly at times. 🙂

  8. Heather Griffitts Clark
    February 15th, 2012 @ 11:56 am

    Love, love, love, love LOVE this post 🙂

  9. Law Momma
    February 15th, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    Hey, thanks! 🙂

  10. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments
    February 15th, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

    THANK YOU. Just honestly and truly thank you!

  11. Lawmomma77
    February 15th, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    You’re welcome. 🙂

  12. Madonna
    February 15th, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

    Such a great post! There have been many a times I have spent a few minutes envying a woman I see in public. But then I am reminded that we have our own secrets and maybe she is in a bad marriage or cannot have children. And then I remember my secrets – no time, energy, or money to keep up with Mrs. Jones and I am okay with that. Because when E runs to the door, excited to see me, those envious thoughts are long gone.

  13. E Hanning Smith
    February 16th, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    I absolutely LOVED THIS.

  14. Meg @ irishtemple
    February 16th, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

    I LOVE this! Fantastic post and oh-so-true! I swear you sound like the inside of my head so many times in my messy car, but looking at the sweet guys in the back seat…ahh…you are so spot on!

  15. Ruth Wertzberger Carlson
    February 16th, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

    Great story…we’ve all wished we were thinner, more successful, richer, but few us stop to think how lucky we are with what we have

  16. Swim Bike Mom
    February 16th, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

    The only people I envy… are those smart enough NOT to go to law school. 🙂

    And…someone told me once… that if everyone threw their problems in one big pile… that you’d immediately want YOUR OWN problems returned to you. Good to remember that she may have her own set of problems… like how to afford that leased Lexus, manicured nails and all those Joneses on her street corner.

    Good post. My motto is always: keep moving forward. If you look back, you’ll trip and fall on your future and make a mess of it. 🙂

  17. Ruth Wertzberger Carlson
    February 16th, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

    what’s funny is-I was that girl once-or close to it. I went to aerobics twice a day, had the perfect bod, got a nose job, had a great job..and finally I realized that I can’t be perfect..and I’m a whole lot happier being just me

  18. Crayon Wrangler
    February 16th, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    Wonderful post! How often we look at across the fence at the greener grass and never take the time to water our own grass. I loved the way you wrote this and I am sure guilty of staring at the “woman in the Lexus” and thinking “what if”

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
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