“She is not fair to outward view As many maidens be;
Her loveliness I never knew Until she smiled on me;
Oh! Then I saw her eye was bright, A well of love, a spring of light. Hartley Coleridge
After failed plans to get into the city over the Labor Day holiday, we wound up spending the long weekend at home. Resting some on Labor Day Monday, we worked diligently on Saturday finishing up the basement (“The Dugout”); pulling weeds and shaping up our garden; catching up on art projects; and taking long bike rides through the mountainous terrain of Ridgefield and New York State.
It was after one of these long and glorious bike rides that my husband announced we were going to our neighborhood family restaurant, Dimitri’s, for a late lunch. For those of you living up here, you know Dimitri’s. We all know Dimitri’s. They just celebrated their ten year anniversary yesterday by inviting the entire town over for a party! It’s the best family diner in town. Very low-key. Very very casual. One of the owners is Greek; the other is Guatemalan. Most of the servers are from Mexico or South America…and we’re on a first-name basis with almost all of them. When they come to take our order, I always tell them I’d like”the usual,” and most of them know what I mean (its Cajun-grilled chicken Caesar salad with the best homemade dressing on the planet.) Going to Dimitri’s is not a big deal per se, although it’s something we look forward to every Sunday after church. Both the diner’s budget, as well as our own family’s, has a line item for the Fernandez’ Sunday lunch at Dimitri’s.
So it caught me as quite a surprise when Nick, our seventeen-year-old, looked at me, fresh from my hour-long-bike ride, and told me I was not going to Dimitri’s looking “like that.” I looked him in the eye–rather incredulous–and then looked at myself, starting at my waist and moving down to my shoes. I thought I looked rather, well, cute. I had adorable little hot pink athletic shorts on, which make my chubby thighs look kinda muscular; my navy blue polo shirt peeked out from under my favorite grey sweatshirt, which some would call “ratty,” but to me, it was more of a Ralph Lauren-meets-Lance Armstrong-meets Martha Stewart kind of a look. On top of that, I had on my brand-new hydro-engineered tech shoes, fabulous for mountain-biking as well as for hiking the rain forests of Costa Rica, for crying out loud! I was no frumpy biker!
But Nick silently looked at me looking at myself and then met my eyes again with a single “No. “
Then Cristina, our twelve-year-old-going-on-thirty-two, bounced down the stairs and looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re not going to Dimitri’s in that, are you?!?” Forever the fashion commentator, it took one twisted facial expression for me to read the signal–loud and clear–that my “cute and casual” biker look was already embarrassing my kids to death.
These are the same kids that wear motley t-shirts hanging out of their shorts, jeans below their “natural waistline” (I could get cruder here but I won’t), tank tops with bra-straps showing through, and athletic socks waaaaay past their natural lifetimes. Oh please.
But I do make a bit of a brouhaha about looking your best when you go out in public, and so my kids did have a point. After all, impressions do mean a lot and first impressions mean even more, right? We should all make sure our faces are freshly scrubbed, deodorant and body spray (or cologne or perfume) are adequately spritzed on, teeth brushed, and clothing (and jewelry) looking cute and casual before stepping out into the world.
So are there exceptions? I mean, just where do you draw the line? Do we need to wear make-up when we drive the kids to school in the morning or meet the other moms at the bus stop? When we make a quick trip to the grocery to pick up the milk? Or run into the pharmacy to grab a readied prescription?
Only you can say. But whatever, here are four ROCKET MOM Quick Tips for getting ready to walk out the door, all doable in ten minutes flat:
o Scrub your face. Use olive oil soap and a loofah or washcloth for a fast exfoliation. Rinse with cold water and quickly apply a fabulous moisturizer. Your face will be radiant!
o Do mascara and lipstick. Use inexpensive brands (like Maybelline) that make lashes fuller or darker or longer…but use it to make your eyes sparkle a little brighter. And keep a handful of lipsticks in “ready position” by your vanity sink so you can grab one for an instant color pick-me-up.
o Spritz on something wonderful-smelling. Snatch something from your “perfume wardrobe,” even if it’s an inexpensive body splash from Bath and Bodyworks or Target. It’s just too fun not to….and it might hide unpleasant baby burble or kid dirt that you haven’t yet had time to shower off.
o Match your clothing. Even if you’re in scrubbies, make sure they coordinate. You may opt for that raggedy grey sweatshirt (as I often do!), but let’s face it: that vintage look can be very exciting, depending on what you match it with. If you woke up with very bad hair day and you don’t have time to shower, grab a baseball hat or a visor. No apologies and no guilt! And don’t forget to match your shoes to your whole look: it grounds you. (Remember: good mattresses, good books, good shoes)
Lastly, as far as the kids and their very insightful comments go: best to stand there and take them like a woman. Your kids will wind up saying the darndest things about you. And you just gotta laugh.
Carolina Fernandez earned an M.B.A. and worked at IBM and as a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch before coming home to work as a wife and mother of four. She totally re-invented herself along the way. Strong convictions were born about the role of the arts in child development; ten years of homeschooling and raising four kids provide fertile soil for devising creative parenting strategies. These are played out in ROCKET MOM! 7 Strategies To Blast You Into Brilliance. It is widely available online, in bookstores or through 888-476-2493. She writes extensively for a variety of parenting resources and teaches other moms via seminars, workshops, keynotes and monthly meetings of the ROCKET MOM SOCIETY, a sisterhood group she launched to “encourage, equip and empower moms for excellence.” Please visit [http://www.rocketmom.com].