As a young mom, my go-to look became either a naked face and simple ponytail, or the bare minimum of mascara and lipgloss. I wanted to look pulled together, but it was really a lot more work than I was willing to do. Which makes mornings like this amusing and a little sad to me.
In the time since Ella's arthritis journey began, I've become an expert with a flat iron. I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about the nuances of eyeshadow, and have debated the merits of different mascara brands. My jewelry box overflows with accessories, a far cry from the few funky pieces I once owned and loved.
Part of my transformation is due to maturity and the influence of one very style savvy friend, but more so to the quest for credibility.
Two years ago in a rheumatologist's office, I realized that my intelligence is tied into the perfection of my eyeliner. The more put-together I look, the more seriously medical professionals take what I have to say. My naked face makes me invisible, while a full face of make-up makes me worthy of being heard. It's a game of perception.
Which means that I was up an extra hour early this morning. An extra dose of conditioner to make my hair shine, a fresh coat of laquer on my nails, and just the right amount of perfume are how I arm myself for battle. I take a few deep breaths and practice speaking in lower and slower tones than my usual rabid squirrel. I'm calm, cool, and in charge; and I have to sound that way. There can be no trace of my ADD this morning. Experts don't chatter in fast-forward.
Authority figures are perfection. That's what I've learned in the past two years.
If all the world is a stage, and we are merely players, I'm playing my part today. I've painted on the mask of rational and reasonable motherhood. I put on my visible intelligence along with my jewelry. I spritzed on confidence along with my perfume. It's an act, a carefully fashioned persona. It's ridiculous and maddening, and dead necessary.
One last check in the mirror, and a final tug at the shape wear that's smoothing out my imperfections. My two year old pats my leg and smiles up at me, "Pretty mama" comes from behind her paci. And I know I'm done.
The flawless image of calm perfection this morning is all part of a absurd game, but it's the most important one I'll ever play. I didn't make the rules, but I've learned how to play by them, and I'm going to win.