Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Grass Is Greener.

Kiyomi had a dentist appointment on Friday morning to fill two cavities. Turns out that diet we've had her on of juice boxes and lollipops isn't good for her after all. And that toothbrush that I carved for her out of a solid block of sugar? Not helping.

I came home after dropping her off at school in the morning but barely had time to drink my coffee before it was time to go pick her up for her appointment. I only had a few minutes, but in an effort to make myself presentable to other humans I sped through my morning routine:

1. Start to brush hair and give up after realizing it will take heavy machinery to finish the job.

2. Start to apply makeup and give up after realizing it will take heavy machinery to finish the job.

3. Start to put together a smashing outfit but give up when I realize it will take an act of God to find anything clean in my clothes pile.

4. Put on sunglasses in hopes that no one will recognize me in my current state.

We got there early and I was relieved to see they had US Magazine in the waiting room - I was beginning to feel woefully left out of the whole Nick/Jessica debate and I seized this as valuable research time to catch up on the facts. I was busy using a Sharpie to blacken out all of Nick's teeth when a woman walked in pushing a baby in a stroller and accompanied by a small boy who appeared to be around four. She sat down next to me and I couldn't help but notice how neat and put together she was, maybe because at that moment I had attempted to sweep the hair away from my face and now my entire hand was inexorably stuck, tangled for life in my matted mane.

She was dressed in a skirt and neatly pressed (ironed!) shirt, the boots on her feet shiny and scuff-free (polished!) Her (untangled) hair was pulled into a smooth ponytail and her makeup, if she was wearing any, was flawless (glowing!) Why, put a glass of chardonnay and a cheeses plate in front of her and she could have been holding court at a cocktail party instead of waiting for her kid's teeth to be jackhammered.

I managed to free my now bloodied hand from my tresses and started to say something, to ask her how she managed to look so decent with two young children but I knew it would come out as "I hate you, you impeccably-groomed freak of nature" so I stopped myself. While I was patting myself on the back for this remarkable show of restraint I happened to look down at my own outfit, my rumpled jeans, my reasonably hip but wrinkled t-shirt and suddenly felt so...un-together.

Much like being able to tell the age of a tree by counting its rings, I can do the same with the stains on my jeans. Coffee? Ketchup? Hoisin sauce? Crissakes, according to my calculations Id been wearing those things since February. 2005. My t-shirt was clean, thank God, but how long had I been wearing the same pair of socks? And my jacket? I believe Clinton was in office the last time that thing saw the inside of a washing machine.

The question is, when did I go from being that woman to this woman? And frankly, was I ever that woman? I honestly feel like the day I popped my first child out nine and half years ago strangely coincided with the day that all personal grooming products mysteriously vanished from my home. And the last time I actually ironed a piece of clothing? Let's just say that it was taffeta and I was getting ready for the Junior Formal. And I guess the bigger question is, why was I comparing myself to a stranger in a dentist's waiting room?

Luckily Kiyomi's name was called before I was able to spiral down into that deep dark hole of despair I was hovering over. As I was getting up to leave I took one last look at the woman sitting next to me and noticed a small, almost imperceptible spot on the sleeve of her otherwise spotless shirt. Spittle? Milkshake? Grey Poupon? I felt a small tingle of relief - she was human after all, and probably fraught with some of the same insecurities and uncertainties as me. I was enlightened and walked out of the waiting room with my head held high. Now somebody buy me a hairbrush.

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48 comments:

  1. Hu-what??? I'd be blacking in Jessica's teeth. Not Nick's.

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  2. We've all been there. Depressing the number of days I realize I didn't even wash my face. At some point I became schlumpy. Sad.

    My mom never paid much attention to her appearance while she was raising us, but now she's frequently the classiest looking grandma on the golf course. And I see men flirt with her. It's shocking to a daughter.

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  3. haaa. things are never what they "appear" to be. I try to remember that when I'm in a scenario like that.

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  4. FYI...some of men are in similar situations. Every suit I own has milk-induced spittle on the right shoulder. Yesterday, I found a dried-up Cheerio on my left shoe. And last week? I walked into a meeting and while looking for a business card, I emptied my inside chest pocket. What comes out? A teething biscuit and my kid's pacifier.

    I think it's safe to say the GQ days are over.

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  5. This is just such a fantastic post. I love it. You've reminded me exactly of how I felt every time I stepped into my OB's upper east side fancy-pants office. These women were pregnant and just thin and slim and glowing and lovely - and the ones with kids, doubly so. Meanwhile there I am like, "uh, hi. I'm Liz. This is my arm fat."

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  6. You know darn well she has a nanny at home to change/feed/bathe those children while she grooms herself.

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  7. Some people just have starch coming out of their pores. I'll wager that Ms. Put-Together is more insecure than you. That being said, I'll confess that I got my first pedicure today hoping that somehow it would launch me into a whole new level of put-togetherdness. Start at the ground up and all that. I'll let you know if it works.

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  8. It was semen on her shirt, the spot. She's a very high priced prostitute and the man she was working for happens to have a fetish for a woman who dresses up in completely inappropriate attire and takes his children to the dentist. Don't worry.

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  9. I'm not sure what's worse -- going to my kids' crack-of-dawn soccer games with a baseball cap and sunglasses to cover my unkempt hair and crusty eyes... OR... taking my kids to their soccer game WITHOUT the benefit of their baseball caps and sunglasses to cover up their unkempt hair and crusty eyes.

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  10. I'm thinking she either has a nanny or she's a born-again. They seem to be very tidy, sort of well-pressed, shoe-polished kind of folk.

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  11. I am much loving this. Mind if I link to you from my site?

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  12. I feel the same way when I'm on the metro commuting home wearing sneakers and wearing a jacket that has lint on it. I'll see some totally pulled together gal with perfectly adorable heels and a crisp, sassy coat and I think, "I look like a sloth next to her!" I guess we all have these insecurities!

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  13. I so, so know what you mean. I was getting my kiddos buckled in their carseats yesterday at Wal Mart and a van pulled in beside me. The back doors opened up and like, five kids piled out, all of them dressed nicely with their hair done and then the Mom got out of the front seat, thin, stylish, attractive. I dove in to my own van so she wouldn't have to see what she was parking beside (and up until then I was proud of the fact that I had put *jeans* on instead of lounge pants).

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  14. Let's face it... you love your kids more than she loves hers. :)

    Whenever I have a day like that (and, lets face it, there's a lot of days like that) I try to tell myself that my stained jeans, scuffed sneakers and baseball hat are a badge of honor. And then I shoot invisible daggers at the person who made me feel inadequate!

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  15. I have made an observation about people's yards. The more obsessed they are about maintaining them and keeping them perfect, the more screwed up they are. They are just generally unhappy for some reason or another. I live in small town. Believe me, I know this is fact.
    I think this same theory could transfer into the clothing/make-up realm.

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  16. I believe disheveled'ness is the hallmark of a good mom - moms who always put their children's interests ahead of their own.

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  17. Here's the deal, Stop worrying about how you loke to other people, Fuck Em!! You already got your man. look good for him(unless your hot for the dentist) any other time dress comfortably. Unless there is a dress code where you are off to who the hell cares how you look, i't how you feel about yourself on the inside that matters. I don't go around looking like shit but I don't wake up early to have time to go all GQ either. on Sunday morning I go get milke at the store in my lounge pants, t-shirt and slippers. I wonder what the clerk and customers think of me? Right!!!, I got my milk, Fuck Em!!!

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  18. Dammit, neither Nick or Jessica's. Blacken the entire body of Parasite Hilton! I;m hoping a house falls on her head soon.

    Hi by the way. I'm new. Christina's the name(extends hand) Nice to meet you. From one frazzled mom looking for some peace in this chaotic world we call motherhood to another. Love the blog.

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  19. You are an inspiration to the rest of us. Funny, funny post as always, SPM.

    My particular issue is dog hair. I'm like a walking lint roller just covered in short, blonde hairs. My husband gets embarrassed and tries to frantically pick them off me when we're in public, but I've just stopped caring. I'm all, "Meh. They'll just float back on to me in two seconds anyway."

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  20. what a frickin' great post! love it love it love it. we have so *all* been there. and probably will be evermore.

    the tooth decay thing has me worried. how old is K? my boy is 3.5 and about to have his first appointment. let's say we have been "lax" about getting him to actually brush his teeth (as opposed to merely sucking off the Little Bear tooth paste). oh, and we also feed him exclusively on a diet of refined sugar product.

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  21. I've totally read this post like 5 times. I love it. It's so true and written so well. I can walk out of the house feeling pretty good but then I'll walk into Perfect Mom and notice the little hairs sticking up around my face -- the drool stain on my sweater -- the scuffed shoes. I hate to say how much pleasure it gives me when I see that Perfect Mom forgot to tuck in the tail of her shirt or has a little spot of cat hair on her pants. (I don't hate Perfect Mom, I just want some sign that she's not perfect either!)

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  22. You have a clothes pile too???? I knew I liked you! And I too wear my "uniforms" day in and day out with no washing in between. I just feel so, well, so not alone. What liberation. Thanks for that!

    Hey, can I let you in on a little secret? A week or so ago I took some of my clothing staples to the dry cleaners. Talk about a pick-me-up! With these newly cleaned and pressed duds I feel like a new woman. Baby steps. Sometimes they're all it takes.

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  23. Iron? I've NEVER ironed in my life. I just throw them back in the dryer for a few minutes. That woman was probably from Stepford.

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  24. Why, just this morning on my own way to the dentist (for me, not the boy), I seriously asked myself the question, "Should I wear the jeans with the little hole in the butt that I haven't had time to patch yet, or the jeans with the little tear in the crotch that I haven't had time to sew up?

    Thankfully I suddenly remembered the Res-Q tape in my sewing box, and was able to patch the ones with the hole in the butt on my way out the door.

    (I usually actually do get sorta dressed up to go to the doctor/dentist, in the vague hope that looking put-together and professional might get them to actually treat me like and intelligent being when I ask questions, but I forgot to put my good pants in the dryer last night. Maybe that's all that woman was up to. Who knows-- it might have been the only clean thing in her closet).

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  25. P.S. The funniest thing is that after me worrying all morning about my jeans, the dentist's assistant was absolutely agog over my sporty brown $20-from-Payless sneakers, and had to know where to get some for herself. LOL!

    (She thought they were Sketchers).

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  26. As Dawn would say, "Suck It, Uber Moms!"

    Let's hope it took heavy machinery for her to get that put together for the dentist. Me, I've been alternating between the same two sweatshirts and 4 or 5 tshirts for YEARS. Clothes just don't matter to me the way they do to other people. Which doesn't stop me from madly envying the people who are on "What Not To Wear". Give ME five thousand dollars for clothes, dammit!

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  27. well, you named your blog sweatpants mom for a reason right?
    I always feel that way when i go out. I wonder why i never look as nice as these mothers i see, but then I think "You know what? F*** 'em. My boy is clean and well-dressed, he is more important." Because frankly most of my time is spent on making sure he looks good.
    But i have to admit I wish I could go out and have people look at me for reasons other than my disheveled hair and uniform of jeans and a tee...

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  28. It's even worse when the put-together woman is your sister.

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  29. VERY FUNNY post!

    Have you ever experimented with noticing how others treat you (store clerks, cashiers, passersby) when you go in your "grubs" vs. lookin' all spiffy? Pronounced difference...hmmmm.

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  30. The good news is that you can get a few extra days out of your socks and underwear by turning them inside out. The bad news is that you can't do that with your pants.
    I'd type more, but I gotta go do my laundary. It's starting to take over my house.

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  31. All these comments are making me feel less alone, here in my dirty sweatpants.

    I have a new category for us to combat all those UberMoms - GrungerMoms!

    (And GrungerDads, of course.)

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  32. Every day where all the blood stays in everyone's body and most of the hair on the heads is a success, in my book.

    And I LOL at the jeans. I had the realization last week that I couldn't remember When I had washed "THE" weekend jeans. Singular. THE.

    Should have leaned in to her and whispered
    "I hear Social Services is starting to investigate the mothers who look Too good. Research shows that they are secret crack addicts and are abusing their children."

    I can deliver that line with frightening authenticity and seriousness.

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  33. NorCal Sistah3/31/2006 5:42 PM

    Just so you know, that when I come and visit you I always feel so unfashionable next to you. I feel like I just left the diary farm to come visit my high fashion "city" family. It's always a bad sign when the girls look more fashionable than you do. I always think how lucky the girls are to have such a "cool" dressing mom (I must be missing the "grunge" days). I wish I could be as fashionably put together as you!

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  34. I so feel you. I always feel like Messy Marvin...something is always rumpled or out of place, and nothing ever fits quite right. Grrrr.

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  35. This is so funny.

    I am totally the grunge mom as well. Am pregnant with number two and don't feel like putting on maternity clothes that I wore with number one when I was about ten pounds lighter. Guh. Plus, who the hell has time to dress themselves AND their kid. Before I was pregnant, it was me OR him. And before kids? Well, I always had a uniform - capris, t-shirt and hoodie, usually worn with fun Payless shoes. (I've never been good with trends except for shoes.)

    Even before I was married I had grunge days. At one point, when I lived in Omaha and it was cold as hell, I showered at my place and headed over to the sig other's for the evening. It was dark and I was walking, so I wore a hooded yellow parka - hood up – to keep the noggin warm and to cover the scary hair that wasn’t yet dry. I was hungry, so I stopped in at a restaurant on the way to buy some cheese biscuits for dinner. They thought I was homeless and gave them to me for free.

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  36. Guaranteed, she may look impeccable on the outside, but is a raging mess on the inside (this is what I tell myself when I see put-together biatches).

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  37. yeah, i'm feeling you on this post. I can't even find time to update my undergarments. I haven't bought new undies in 4 years. Embarrassing but true.

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  38. I had my messy epiphany a few months ago wearing my Minnie Mouse sweatshirt. Undoubted when I look the way I don't even want to see when I look in the mirror is when I bump into someone somewhere that I haven't seen in ages. My kids are older than yours and honestly now I aim to be 50% put-together on a daily basis. Heck, I'm single, and you never know who might just know someone who knows someone who knows someone who is also over-40, Jewish and single in my area. And now when I stop hyperventilating from these delusions I will go stare at your photo of Hostess cupcakes.

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  39. Your description of yourself is alarmingly what I look like right this minute. And I don't have any kids. Maybe I can consider this lack of personal hygiene practice for motherhood?

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  40. I love my dirty jeans. They're too tight after I pull them out of the dryer.

    You're a good mom for taking your daughter to the dentist!

    Miss almost too perfect has her own failures hidden away.

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  41. I feel the same way! I used to at least look somewhat pulled together. But now? Not so much. Everytime I see my neighbor Chris who always looks fabulous and has three kids, it reminds me that I seriously need to go shopping for nice clothes. And that I need to spend at least 10 minutes each a.m. trying to do something with myself.

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  42. I was never that woman. Always was, and always will be, a rumpled-jeans-kinda-girl. I'm with wordgirl; I would have been blacking in Jessica's teeth, too.

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  43. Very funny!!!

    Mary, mom to many and rarely pulled-together looking

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  44. I can relate. The last time I took my 3-year-old to the dentist I saw a mom with two little girls...the girls were wearing matching smocked sundresses, big grosgrain ribbons in their untousled hair, and unscuffed white shoes. My daughter was wearing scuffed tennis shoes, pants that have seen better days and her favorite worn out t-shirt. I was wearing jeans. The other mom was straight out of Talbot's catalog. I swear, though, I thought I caught her looking at me with a glimmer of "wow, I wish was that laid back." LOL

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  45. excellent post and wonderful comments! i feel for ya b/c i can't even pull myself together & i have zero kids. i figure all those perfect types are less interesting than people like us. point being, the most interesting thing about her was the spot on her perfectly ironed shirt. i'll bet SHE doesn't have good stories like heidi with her free-because-she-was-homeless cheese biscuits!

    btw, your norcal sistah is just being self-conscious b/c she always looks pulled together and pretty. i suspect you may be suffering from the same overly harsh self-crit : )
    -kb

    p.s. this daylight savings thing is utter b.s.! hence my jeans on a monday, flat hair and comfortable orthopedic footwear...

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  46. It always amazes me how neurotic women are about each other and themselves. Guys could give a rats ass about what the other guy is wearing most of time. Unless its a sports related funtion, then we have to be in the latest and greatest shoes and warmups.

    Oh and the stain on her shirt.... yeah it was her husbands stuff that missed the mark.

    Great read btw.

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  47. Very funny! At least you OWN an iron....
    I'm betting that woman was the sitter...yeah, that's it...the sitter...:)

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  48. When my son was a baby and I asked a friend how other moms could be looking so out-of-a-catalog impeccable with babies, she said, "They spent two hours dressing and grooming themselves and their kids before stepping outside. Each time."

    Am a jeans with stains and sneaker mom. Hey, it's cool!

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