4:00pm. I look around at the colorful array of toys and dolls exploded across my floor. The long and narrow apartment looks like a fun obstacle course for tiny, spry toddler feet, while my tired mom legs navigate carefully through the battlefield. My foot bumps into an electronic book on the floor which sets if off – “Scout is done with play… at the end of a long, long day…” A plastic riding truck is tipped on its side. Blocks are scattered about like fallen apples from a shaken tree.
I finally make my way to the front window; I am still wearing the same clothes I slept in. I meant to wash my hair, but it hadn’t happened yet. A woman down on the sidewalk catches my eye. Her daughter is in a stroller, wearing white sneakers with pink laces, and matching heart-shaped sunglasses. The little girl’s blonde hair sticks out wildly in several directions, but her pink bow still sits proudly on top of her head. The mother also has a new baby wrapped snuggly around her chest – he seems to be sleeping, and because of the soft fabric enveloping both of them, I can’t tell where the baby ends and the woman’s body begins. She is sipping something from Starbucks with one hand, while pushing the stroller with the other. This woman is a vision – she is my hero.
I glance down at my nubby socks. I touch my disheveled bun and catch part of my reflection in the window pane. When did getting dressed in the morning become so difficult? And, on the days when I did get dressed, why did I still feel so inadequate? At some point, did I just stop trying all together?
Our apartment looks like everything has been tossed together like a giant salad – toys and blocks and remote controls mingle with one another. Baby wipes and a changing pad have a permanent spot on the couch, and baskets that were supposed to help with organizing, always end up empty and flung across the room.
I look back at the perfect woman on the sidewalk. Her shiny brown hair is pulled back into a small knot – no doubt her hair is just as dirty as mine, she just owns it better than I do. Her outfit is equally simple yet sophisticated – a long black dress with a flattering scoop neck and no sleeves. The knit fabric practically hits the ground, but I can see her slip-on shoes poking out from underneath. They have something sparkly on the toe.
As I take a closer look, I realize the woman out walking with her children is no different than me. Instead of trying to wash my hair, I needed to add more grease and pull it back even tighter. Instead of wearing slept-in sweats all day, I needed to choose a dress. A dress would take me through my day, my messy floor, the handful of cheese I ate for lunch, my afternoon walk, and my collapse on the couch at the end of it all. A dress can do that – a dress takes the least amount of effort while making the biggest statement.
And that’s what I needed right now – minimal effort, maximum result. This mother may not have had it all together, but she sure looked the part. This mother got dressed, left the house, threw her kicking and screaming toddler in the stroller while messing up her hair, strapped her baby to her chest, and said, “Screw this. We are outta here!” And then, as a final gesture to the Universe, she stopped at Starbucks. This woman is still my hero.
And these days, of all days, I need to choose a dress.