My mother's butt | Jan's Journal

June 26, 2009

We reach an invisible point in our lives in which the petty importance of youthful appearances slips away.

The reason could be that we are consumed with either raising a family, or our jobs, but usually both at the same time. For me personally, it’s been almost two decades of motherhood. Looking back to pre-children days, I try hard to visualize what it was like to be young and single. The memories are blurry, but I do recall one totally reckless behavior vividly: I used to wear white pants.

My 30th high school class reunion is this summer. While searching warily for something Earth-shattering to wear to this momentous event, I realized what’s missing from the clothing lines for today’s modern woman: A miracle fabric/design that sucks it all in without spilling out and over wherever the apparatus doesn’t cover. Yes, I know, that’s impossible, you think, but I did mention the word “miracle.” And that’s what it will take to get me to wear that cute daring sundress I tentatively bought. (Did I mention it’s sleeveless?)

The one-piece-head-to-toe, flexible under-slip looks too small for a toddler, but I am assured that it will indeed stretch. “That’s great!” I say dubiously, while my writer’s mind wanders toward the probability of having to use the facilities while donning it. I imagine the gargantuan effort it will take to struggle in and out of this thing, and frankly, there just isn’t the time to do it. I’d miss the whole reunion. I also might hurt myself.

Our minds work in strange ways too. It could be an undiagnosed seasonal dementia because I always try on the white pants, hoping blindly that maybe they will fit flatteringly this year. I am a glutton for punishment, I guess, because the basic dressing room itself hasn’t changed either.

It’s a setting out of a horror flick. Ghoulish fluorescent lights cast hideous shadows showcasing bumps and lumps where previously there were none. The ornamental door lock lures us into a false sense of security that the size 2, evil saleswoman won’t barge in at any time to see how poorly they fit, while bringing in more too small replacement pants. The sadistic trick mirrors add at least 10 pounds — from all three angles. The most terrifying mind game is yet to come: While swaying mesmerized by the piped-in soft tunes of Barry Manilow, I glance nervously in the mirror behind, and the shock of it makes me gasp. A soundless scream rips from my quivering lips while uttering the unbelievable reality out loud: “I have my mother’s butt!”

Dizziness drops like a bomb on my head, sinking my body shakily onto the small, uncomfortable corner table/seat. Deliriously, I whisper over and over again, “When did this happen — and more importantly, why?” The bitter truth which seeps into my frazzled brain, acknowledges that, sadly, while we were busy, genetics won.

There’s no cure for our shapely fate. We can fight it by diet and exercise, but my father-in-law once said, “I feel young, but I look in the mirror and there’s this old guy looking back at me!” However, if age is just a number, maybe it’s possible to combat our inherited destiny, even 30 years, three kids and extra poundage later. Keeping in mind that everyone from the class of 1979 is older, I will put away my childish insecurities and go battle a slinky piece of spandex. Miracles do happen.

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