Friday, November 8, 2013

Help! I'm Becoming My Mom

I saw it in his eyes as he watched me pull my colorful blouse over my head, and tugged it into place over my t-shirt. "I saw that. I saw how you looked at me."

My son just grinned. "What?" he asked with a knowing smile.

"You don't approve of my shirt. Well, your sister helped me pick it out. I bought it in Denver when I was with her, and SHE approved."

My multi-colored floral shirt from Denver.
My kids have this thing about my clothes. And I have had this thing about my mom's clothes. For some reason, we don't want our moms to draw undue attention from others. My mom loves wild colors and prints, and I admit it; I do, too these days.

"Maybe we could get you some purple pants to go with that shirt," Bridger teased. "No, I know; you should get some flowered pants; that would be even better. Flowered pants to go with your flowered shirt. And some shiny 'Christmas-y earrings.'"

That last little snide comment was a direct quote from my mom's Christmas wish list. My mom and I love holidays; what's the big deal? We enjoy bright colors, and doesn't everyone want "Christmas-y" earrings?  

I have not always been this way. Even as recently as the beginning of last school year, the predominant color in my closet was black. I had a few good grey pieces, and brown was a favorite color that saw me from fall through the winter. I owned all of the neutral colors. Jeans and khaki pants went with all of my tops.  

In all, I probably had seven dressier outfits. Five were black; two were brown. I guess you could say I was ready to attend a funeral at a moment's notice. Yes, my wardrobe was slightly bland and a bit ho-hum. I liked to think of it as classic, and easily coordinated.   

My favorite pic of my mom.  She's the
most cheerful person, and cheerfully
dressed person, I know!

Whenever my mom is making her Christmas wish list, she likes to be pretty specific about her color preferences, even if her sizing specifications are somewhat unclear. She tells us that she wants a medium-sized large or a large-sized medium colorful sweater. (Whatever that means.) And in parentheses she adds: "(I do not consider grey, brown, or black to be colors.)" So Mom and I have not always seen eye-to-eye on fashion.

A few years ago I had flown back to spend some time with Mom after her husband Sam passed away. I wanted to be useful while we spent time together, and I offered to help with anything she needed. 

"I know," she brightened. "Why don't you help me clean out my closet? I have too many clothes, and need to thin out my wardrobe."  

Great, I thought. I am really good at purging. I've always believed if it isn't something you love or use, you shouldn't have it. If it's ugly or ill-fitting, out it goes. This was going to be fun!

We entered her spacious walk-in closet together. I shoved the hanging clothes down the rack to give me some room to work. Oh, my word!  The very first blouse I saw was WILD! The silky fabric felt nice enough, but the colors and pattern were just over the top. There were large, uniform ovals in jewel tones stamped in horizontal rows across the navy blue material. It looked like rows and rows of Easter eggs.  

"Let's start with THIS," I said, holding the hanger out to her.

"What?" She looked shocked. "NO! That is my favorite blouse of all time."

"Mom. Seriously? This is hideous." I perhaps should not have used the word hideous. "When would you possibly wear it, besides Easter Sunday?"

"Do you see how many colors are in it? I can wear it with anything. It goes with everything I own."

This was not an argument I could win. 

"So this one stays." I returned it to the front of the line. I selected the next blouse. "Do you still wear THIS old thing? You don't want to keep this any more, do you?" I asked in disbelief.  

Mom's face fell. "Maybe this isn't a good thing for us to do together right now." 

I'd hurt her feelings. We just didn't agree on what belonged in her closet, and what should be tossed. So I spread the hangers out more evenly, and smoothed my hands across the fabrics. I turned off the light, and we went in search of something else to do.

One day, a few years back, my brother Dan stopped by the house to pick up Mom to run some errands.  When she came to the door in her Lycra stretch pants and a brightly colored top, he looked her over, and said, "Oh, you're not ready. I guess I can wait."

"I'm ready. What do you mean by that?"  He looked at her again, taking in her stretchy capris and her wild shirt. "I just thought maybe you would want to change clothes before we went out in public."

"Why would I?  I'm very comfortable, and this shirt has my favorite colors in it. These pants go with this shirt." 

Colorful and comfortable; can we all agree that these two things are a great foundation for any wardrobe? 

Now it's MY turn. I have my clothes closet organized according to color. All of the black clothes are hung on the left, next are the darker colors, and then the lighter colors, ending with the white clothes on the right.  

I know.  It's a sickness. I'm not as bad as Joan Crawford, of Mommie Dearest fame, but almost. Last year I had noticed that my black and white sections took up half of my hanging clothes rod, and I had a couple items of some colors, and none of others. I promised myself to add some color to my wardrobe. And this is where I started on the path to becoming my mom.

Over the last year, I have been pretty successful. Orange has become my signature color; watch out! Now when I look at my closet, I am pleased to see a nice variety of many colors, and there are not near as many neutrals. It's kind of fun!

Whenever I go shopping, my eyes seem to zero in on bright patterns and prints. I'll gasp, and grab a hanger for closer inspection. Invariably, if my kids are nearby, they will look at me solemnly, and slowly shake their heads from side to side.  

"No?" I'll ask for verification.  

"NO," one or the other of them will silently mouth back to me. I will resign myself to return the hanger to the rack, and try again. The cycle continues: GASP! Grab! <Disapproving look from kid.> Return hanger. REPEAT.

Occasionally, I will get a confirmation that I have selected a winner. I haven't quite figured out where the proverbial line is drawn, but the older I get, the less I care.

Sierra and I were shopping at one of our favorite stores, the Nordstrom Rack. We'd been shopping there the previous month, too, and I noticed the blouse that had caught my eye on our last shopping trip was still on the rack. What luck! No one else thought it was worth buying.

"Sierra, look! They still have my shirt." She smiled politely at me, and then looked back at the rack in front of her. I could tell she didn't think too much of my selection. But I LOVED it. It had purple, orange, burgundy, and pink in it. The floral design utilized the colors so well. There was even a burgundy t-shirt, soft as silk, that coordinated with it. Since I only wear jeans, EVERYTHING I like goes with my pants. I really, really liked it. I set it back on the rack. 

After trying on shoes and boots, we decided we were done. I wandered through the racks until I was standing in front of the shirt I liked. I picked it up again.  

"You should get it, Mom," I heard a soft voice behind me.  

"You don't think it's too much?" I asked.

"Mom, you love it. The colors are beautiful. It fits you well. I think you should get it."

And that is the day I became my mother. And my daughter will one day become me. My drab and dreary wardrobe will continually be updated with bright and cheerful colors, and there will be nothing anyone can do about it. 

My children will be shocked from time to time, but it will just give us something to laugh about. There's no use fighting it. 

We all eventually become our mothers. Lucky for me, I happen to have a good one, whose biggest weaknesses are brightly colored clothing and chocolate. I'm proud to call her Mom.

Here we are, my daughter and I, riding saw horses at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Why?  Because they were there. My, my, the tables have changed. Look who wears the black in our family now...

Your turn's coming, Little One. Your turn's coming.


  1. OMG this made me laugh out loud! It's a shame we have to be 50+ before we embrace being colorful. Isn't it WONDERFUL?!

    1. Getting comfortable in our own skin (and colorful clothes) indeed. HUGS!!!


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