It has been quite sometime since I have written as Mom Behind the Mask, and sharing this photo I feel really certain, isn’t giving me away for another day.
Yet the message and timing couldn’t be more symbolic.
This is how I looked in 1977 at a dance. I pulled this photo out of my hope chest (come to think of it, why would I keep this in a chest full of wishes and hopes YUCK! Subject for another post). Opening the lid of this beautiful antique hope chest, and taking out the memories of life’s mostly forgotten memories fills me up with many feelings. Feelings that I believe I have passed onto our sons at some point in their lives. Strange that my own precious worn out photos, could stir my decisions on how to parent today.
My mom always said those words…you are beautiful. I never saw it then and for some reason, she saw right through me, knew those days would be long overlooked, with the straightening of the teeth, the contacts replacing the glasses, the eyebrow waxing, and truth be told, my own confidence.
Taking out photos for our upcoming 35th high school reunion has made me realize, those pictures from any time capsule, be it 1977 or any year at any school , doesn’t define us, and for sure doesn’t help change that uncertain feeling of our teenage selves. Being young has its place, but for the most part it sucks and its worse for this mom.
Without boring you too much, I am fortunate, I will admit I am pretty, I wouldn’t go far as to say beautiful-that 13 year old girl, is still inside me. Perhaps that is what makes me a nice girl and not the other kind.
Fast, fast forward, I am a mom to two boys, actually not boys any longer. a truly handsome 22 year old, with an awkward teenage life. Today the girls die for his attention, the guys he grew up with are shorter, fatter and the studs, not studs as they once were. Has his 13 year old self changed? Does he looked at his photo shoots of today, and think HA! I am better looking than you…Is he praying for his first high school reunion for those to say “who is that guy?” or “hey that is so-and-so, he is a famous music producer, do you think he will remember me?” I have done my job when you look at him, his humble confidence comes through. Please stay that way son!
I wish I was off the hook of the scorn mom feeling…I see it now with our senior in high school, even today I said to him that I see his confidence wain, it hits me harder than he sees, than my husband cares to hear about. I think to myself was my insecure younger self, pushing him to a place I want him to be? Am I taking him down that path of insecurity instead of putting him up on a pedestal? And which way is better? S#it I don’t know! He is super smart, and passionate about a career he hasn’t even begun, he is an amazing soul with a strong, handsome look. Behind his Clark Kent appearance, he hides. His contacts sit in boxes behind the medicine cabinet door. I research this future of his life, from colleges, to fraternities to clubs, and want to paint his picture as I believe he wants it to be. But it may not, probably not what he wants…
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I drag “her” through the dirt of insecure parenting, like a doll listlessly hanging from a three year old on a rainy day. I can’t imagine my parents ever caring this much, or were those simple words my mom would say “you look beautiful” is all any teenager needs?
I should ask her one day if she really knew her words would give me the confidence and strength to stand tall, and feel pretty- in the meantime…
I’ll stay behind the mask for another post, to avoid embarrassing my kids. More than that, I hope my story hit home for some mom who is feeling the same way!