“Mom! This just isn’t working!!”
“You look fine.” I encourage my teen who is frantically changing outfits.
I feel her pain. I remember the days of teendom when nothing you put on seemed to work. Too casual. Too nice. Too form fitting. Too baggy. Too outdated. Too…. No matter what, everyone was sure to look at the outfit, sneer and be grateful that whatever they had chosen was cute compared to you. Then, in a Sir Isaac Newton what-goes-up-must-come-down moment, my daughter’s mind crashes in the inevitable canyon where she is too fat, or too blemished, or … fill in the multiple blanks.
At the end of her wardrobe options, the kid finally succumbs to wearing a pair of jeans with a really cute (and trendy, and appropriate) top. Boots fit the bill to seal the deal. Unfortunately her “skinny” jeans were hiding in a place never to be found. The only pair at hand were boot cut. With her ride on the way, all was falling apart, tears of frustration and surrender to imminent social doom began to flow.
“Why are you crying?!” I ask. Genuinely wondering “why?!!” She looked great.
“These jeans are the worst…. They won’t tuck in my boots … I look horrible!!!… I’m NOT going!!”
Thinking Jody Capehart, don’t engage, Teflon Mom (that’s what I tell myself so I don’t get sucked into the teen vortex) I remind her, “Honey, you’re beautiful,” doing my best to get her mind off of some major self mis-perceptions. Of course, she outwardly ignores my encouragement. “Come over here.” I beacon. “Let me show you how to tuck in your jeans so they look just like the skinny ones.”
She sits down on her chair and I take one of her legs. Folding the jeans over themselves, I tuck them inside the boot then have her stand up and pull it tight. “There,” I say. “It looks just like your other jeans.”
She inspects my job. “Not really. See? … There’s a wrinkle.”
Okay, so there was one small, negligible wrinkle. “Honey, there might be a wrinkle, but you must admit it looks fine. And no one will notice the wrinkle. I know you get sick of me saying this – and I’m not sure you believe me yet – but no one will notice your wrinkle. They’re a lot more concerned about their own wrinkles. They’re looking at themselves. Not you.”
Through her tear-stained eyes, she replies, “I look.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Well I look at everyone… at how beautiful they are.”
She didn’t have to fill in the rest because I knew her next admission – the one that neither of us wanted her to utter.. because when you say something out loud, it makes it all the more true – was that everyone was beautiful except her.
With her ride at the door, our conversation is tabled. She concedes to our make-shift outfit. We tuck the other pant leg into her other boot and she’s off. Tears dried. She’s happy.
As she bounded off, I wanted to yell at her, “You ARE beautiful!…No one is looking at you negatively!… Everyone is much more concerned about themselves!… Don’t let insecurity rob your joy!! … You’re safe… You’re loved…”
As usual, these teen lessons land right at my own front door. I just might have found myself rummaging through my own wardrobe this weekend. Not comfortable with a slightly tight waistline. Wishing I might have gone clothes shopping sometime in the last year or two, somewhere other than Costco, so I could be wearing a fashionable style.Then “wrinkles”… okay, it might not be my thing, but lots of gals are working on those with a little injection here or there.
The secret? Like my kid’s jeans, no one is looking at my wrinkles. They’re much more concerned about their own than they are mine. No one is spending their time tracking all my little imperfections. So, why am I?
The truth? Beyond the secret that no one is obsessed with me, any mental time I spend rifling through my imperfections is time spent thinking about myself. Hmmm… that pride thing that trips us up even, maybe especially, when thoughts are negative rather than arrogant.
Recognizing those little secrets sure frees my mind from negatively thinking about myself. If I’m liberated from my own tracking, I just might have some free time to able to build up a friend (a teen daughter) who could be in the mental dumps from her own self mis-perceptions.
I’m just sayin’…
Thanks for walking the road with me.