I’ll admit it: sometimes I am that mommy.
For example, I have a problem with paper.
Last fall, our basement flooded (again) and the accordion file where we keep our important papers got wet. The contents were only slightly damp, so I took them out and spread them like a fan on a table. When they were dry, I swept them into a box, promising, “I’ll reorganize those someday.”
“Someday” came when I applied for a passport a couple of weeks ago. I needed to find my birth certificate, usually found in that black accordion file, filed under B for birth certificate. So it was that I was trudged downstairs to find the box. I’m that mommy.
As I sorted the last of the papers in the box, I found my old passport. It expired years ago, but since I never throw any papers away, it was still mixed in with the P contents. I opened it up and smiled back at 2002 me.
The picture was not bad, as far as passport photos go – although I remember hating it when it was issued.
I felt my son looking over my shoulder. “Here’s my old passport,” I said.
He looked at it thoughtfully for a moment and then pointed at the open page. “I like *this* mommy better.”
His words stung, but I wanted to laugh them off. The mommy in the passport photo suddenly seemed very different from the current version of me.
That Mommy had just turned thirty years old. I was smiling in the picture – it was taken back in the days when you were allowed to smile for your passport photo. My hair was short and spiky, the way I still like it. In those days, I got my hair cut and coloured at the salon every 5 weeks, six at the outside.
That Mommy was walking Mary Kay advert. Her skin looked dewy and flawless, her foundation a perfect match. Glossy, black cherry lips, and full, perfectly-arched brows framed her dark-lined eyes and mascara-coated lashes. (I apparently had a lot of time and cabinet space back in those days.)
That Mommy wasn’t a mom yet; she was starting to wonder if she would EVER be a mom. She had just had a tearful conversation with her doctor to try to find out why she couldn’t conceive.
That Mommy went to the movies a few times a month, and ate at restaurants every weekend. She had a great wardrobe and an impressive collection of shoes.
That Mommy hadn’t faced another cross-country move, job changes, or financial uncertainty. She hadn’t had severe morning sickness, or been told she couldn’t hold her new baby until he was “stable.” That Mommy hadn’t dealt with sick and dying pets, more job changes, miscarriage, and another pregnancy and birth. She hadn’t lost her dad. She wasn’t raising two boys and sorting through a years-high paper pile up.
That Mommy became This Mommy.
These days, I usually go 10 or 11 weeks between hair cuts, and my salon is the no-appointment-needed walk-in place in the strip mall. My monthly colour is courtesy of a pink box of L’Oreal, and sometimes I can’t quite manage to cover all the grey at my temples.
My face is bare unless I am going out; then, I slap on some tinted moisturizer and lipstick. I would still go for the black cherry, but I hardly ever splurge on lipstick anymore. I think my eyebrows are getting thinner – or else they are turning grey – I can’t be sure.
My wardrobe consists of jeans, yoga pants, and T-shirts. I am a walking advert for Old Navy online shopping.
“I like *this* mommy better.”
In the moment, I hadn’t known what to say. But now I do.
It came to me while watching an episode of Doctor Who with our oldest. There is a line in one episode where River Song describes looking at a photo of someone you love, taken before you knew them. You know it’s them, but it the connection isn’t the same because “they aren’t done yet.”
I don’t think That Mommy is better. Don’t get me wrong; I think she’s great. She was fun, and eager to see what the future holds. She felt like she was embarking on great adventures. But she was also a bit naive. She looks put together, but she has some growing to do.
She’s not done yet; then again, neither am I.
How do you feel when you see old pictures of yourself?