Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Uglies

It's rare that I leave my house without "getting ready". I'm sure the definition of that phrase is different for everyone. For me, it means putting products in my hair, dabbing on a little make-up, and dressing so that I don't like I just rolled out of bed.

The entire process usually takes me about seven minutes. Actually, it could take me much longer, but I only get seven minutes to complete my routine.

Well, yesterday, I didn't even have one minute, and I was elected to take my son to his soccer practice. Luckily, his coach isn't our friend who coaches the other two boys. I don't know anyone on this son's team and am not too eager to introduce myself for an eight week season. Besides, when my husband told one mom that we have seven children, she looked disgusted and said that, if she had that many, she'd slit her wrists. My kids just don't get it. What's so bad about constant playmates and babies around all the time for perpetual entertainment? Anyway, my point is that I didn't feel a need to get all dressed up for these people who I don't know and will never see again after soccer is over.

Before we left for practice, I ran my fingers through my hair and changed into sweats. I intended to drop my son off and stay in the car to do some work, but I decided that it would be best to walk him to the field.

As I was on the sidelines watching him interact with his teammates, I suddenly became self-conscious of my appearance. The wind blew my long curly hair away from my face. The glare from my unpowdered skin must have blinded the parents standing on the other side of the field. I was so grateful for sunglasses. At least my bags were covered by something besides concealer. I wore a big black coat (because it's freeeeezing!) with a hood that I pulled over my head and down to my chin, trying to hide in plain sight. The other parents probably were whispering, "She must be that mother with seven children. No wonder she looks so bad." It really isn't fair to blame my uglies on the kids.

Those were the people who I'd never met. I was afraid of seeing someone I did know as I hurried back to my car. The last time I tried to pull a stunt like this at a grocery store in San Diego, I bumped into my old college roommate, who I hadn't seen in 10 years. I could imagine that she was thinking, "Poor Carol! She sure has let herself go."

As I rushed back to the car yesterday, I bowed my head low and came within inches of tripping a jogger. I raced over to the tiny opening in the fence, designed to keep out bicycles, only to come face to face (I know, I felt bad for her, too) with a woman trying to squeeze herself and her chair through at the same time. "I'm sorry," I mumbled, as I stepped back to let her through. I didn't apologize because I was in her way. It was for the fact that she got a good look at my face and my sick-at-home-with-the-flu clothes.

Next time I'm tempted to cut short my routine, I think I'll let the baby cry at the door for seven minutes in order to save the world from a lifetime of flashbacks and intensive therapy.