One Giant Step

They wander in at the appointed time, starry-eyed and proud, holding hands nervously and waiting for their names to be called.  Young lovers, waiting for the Justice of the Peace?  Young couple waiting for pregnancy test results? 

Not even close…, these are the Future Mothers of Kindergartners or the Moms Formerly Known as the Preschool Moms.  March is the month that they show up in waves at the elementary school where I work, pulling their prodigies along by their damp and sometimes sticky little hands.  It’s time to sign up for the Kindergarten classes that won’t start for another five months yet.  They look nervous and proud, ready for little Brayden (yes, it’s a name) to show the teachers what he’s made of.  By the time they have produced electricity bills, immunization records, a complete list of next of kin, and sworn affidavits that the child is completely, 100% potty trained the mom is exhausted. 

Now it’s little Brayden’s turn to shine.  As the kindergarten teacher takes him off to an adjoining room, his mom looks stressed.  What if he doesn’t remember how to draw a circle?  Did she prep him enough on numbers and letters?  What if he can’t sit still in the chair?  The eager look that she wore only 15 minutes earlier has been replaced.  Now she appears to have eaten a piece of bad sushi, but doesn’t want to upset anyone so she’s acting like everything is fine.  By the time little Brayden is done, paperwork is completed and filed, and the appointment is over, mom is ready for Happy Hour.

Being the experienced mom (OK, cynical) that I am, I want to take her aside and tell her how it really works.  There will be lots of sweet little Braydens, but some of his classmates will at times seem like future felons in training.  Nice little five year olds mixed in with immature early bloomers and six year old late bloomers.  There will be numbers, letters, projects made of rice and cotton balls, field trips, snacks that get lost, tears shed over the slightest indiscretion on the playground, best friends, sworn enemies, wonderful teachers, cranky substitutes, visits to the nurse’s office, and pencils held the wrong way. 

Then, after that first week is over, this process will continue for many years to come, while the child just gets taller and older and the mother just gets older.

I can still remember feeling like it was all so very important, so life-altering, to enter kindergarten.  That first day, when the teacher told the little ones, “Now everyone turn around and wave good-bye to your parents!” was only one step in the general direction of the self-sufficient adulthood we hope for them to eventually live.

Apparently it’s one very long trip.

Photoshop, anyone?

This past Christmas, my Aunt (who is in her early 60’s) posted a funny status update to her Facebook about whether or not it was ethical to photoshop her Christmas card picture….you know, soften the wrinkles, delete a few frown lines. Most of her friends responded along the lines of “Of course not!” and “Models do it, why not the rest of us?”. I didn’t think much else of it, until I was standing in front of my digital picture frame a few days ago. I was probably supposed to be doing laundry, cleaning toilets, organizing the pantry, writing thank you notes, or weeding (which is why I was caught zoning out in front of the digital picture frame).

Watching images of our lives in random order, I noticed a pattern. I looked pretty much the same for years, especially when my kids were young. No drastic changes in hairstyle (except for a few unfortunate “haircoloring at home” episodes), the same basic mom uniform of jeans and a sweater, the same smile.

And then it happened. Somewhere between the summer of 2007 and Christmas 2009, I aged. Not in a creepy fast-forward sort of way, but it just caught up with me. The furrow between my brows is deep, and no matter how much I relax my face it won’t go away. The skin under my eyes is all of a sudden looser and hanging, rather than taut. My skin tone resembles the color of old rice left on the counter too long….somewhat pale with a hint of yellow. The so-called “whites” of my eyes are not a shade found on the color wheel anywhere near white. I am not any thinner than I have been, yet my skin seems to cling to my skeleton like Saran-wrap on the Thanksgiving turkey carcass. When did this middle-aged woman take over my 25 year-old body, anyway?

So, although it may be unethical, tacky, or just plain self-serving, I am thinking that photoshop may have a place in my future. Lines and wrinkles, be gone! Gray roots? Color them in! Now, if only the wardrobe problem were as easy to solve….