Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Replacement

My husband always tells me I wear my clothes way too big. He says I’d look thinner if I wore tops that are form-fitting. It’s not that I mind when he’s giving me constructive criticism, as he is one of my biggest supporters in life but honestly, every time he says that, I think…are you crazy?  I intentionally search for clothing that is non-committal, the antithesis of form-fitting.  The last thing I want is for my shirt to grab on to every one of my nooks and crannies, for goodness sake.  I’d rather someone say the clothes I wear are too big than the clothes I wear are too small.  I’m not the only woman who feels this way, am I?

Even though I usually tune him out when he talks such nonsense, there are times when his words haunt me, echoing in my mind until I think about addressing them.  Maybe on some level this happens when I agree with him.      

Let me give you some background.  The hallmark of my winter attire is a North Face jacket I bought about 6 or 7 years ago.  It’s black, as are most of my clothes.  I know it’s probably at least one size too big – it’s an XL (and I’d venture to say that a L in this style would have been sufficient).  It’s cozy over the short-sleeved scrubs that I wear to work and it’s also perfect when I wear a heavy sweater.

It’s pretty ratty now.  My doggy chewed off a piece of each of the two arm snaps about four years ago when he was just a few months old, and I’ve been telling myself ever since that once I find this jacket on sale, I’ll purchase a replacement.  Maybe I would consider a smaller size, assuming I don’t expand too much by then (I'm always allowing for some growth…just saying).

One night last winter, I went to REI after work in search of my new black North Face, stopping first at the CLEARANCE rack.  No black, only purple.  Hmmm….this color would be a huge departure for me, but I was willing to consider it.  First I checked the size:  XL. I was conflicted whether this was good or bad news given my husband’s objections over my generously-sized wardrobe, but I was secretly happy inside.  I checked the price tag: 50% off.  I felt my excitement mounting.  I was starting to hyperventilate. 

I tried on the jacket expecting it to be quite roomy like my other XLs, but it wasn’t.  It was much daintier yet I actually liked it, so I ended my own debate over the matter knowing my husband would be so pleased that I now have a jacket that fits. Sold. 

It was love at first wear just a couple of weeks ago, not last year when I bought it (don't ask), and I haven't taken it off since.  It’s already my new favorite jacket, right up there with my favorite blue jeans (which are stretch, by the way).    

Now on to the story.  So last night, as my husband and I were leaving for the restaurant to have dinner, I grabbed my new go-to jacket for our ride home.  Something very strange began to happen as I tried to put it on.  I found myself squirming about as the sleeves of my big black sweater were bunching up underneath the new North Face.  Once I got that under control, the next hurdle was lining up the two sides of the jacket to zip up, which again was a struggle.  Was I on Candid Camera?  Had someone switched my jacket with a smaller version?  Had I pigged out even more than normal this time?  

I glanced at my husband, who looked puzzled too, bordering on disturbed.  He asked me when I purchased the jacket.  I am certain he must’ve been thinking I bought it when I was 50 lbs. lighter.  I proudly told him that it was 50% off (I thought he’d appreciate that) and that I chose this petite style knowing he’d find the fit more appealing than my original very spacious North Face.   

After a moment’s hesitation - he was probably thinking how he could delicately respond - he said the new jacket would look fine over my scrubs as it wouldn’t be so snug, but he wouldn’t recommend my wearing it again over a sweater.  I could feel my disappointment and am sure I looked like a wounded puppy when I asked “Why?”

He then said that dreaded 8-letter word that no woman my age or any age, really, would want to hear:  “Because it makes you look…P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T.”  Yikes. Maybe I really did. 

Talk about hyperventilating. He crossed the line. Doesn’t he know a man should never say that to a woman?

I should have congratulated him.  Let him hyperventilate for a minute.

Well one thing is for sure. You most likely won’t be seeing me in my new purple jacket unless you also work at Marlton Pediatrics. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chirp Chirp

Saturday morning at 7 a.m., I woke up to birds chirping!  That was music to my ears.  I am like one of Pavlov's dogs when I hear birdies sing, as my thinking shifted from what I needed to do that day…to summertime…and then WOW…bag the errands and my daughter Amy and I will head to the beach!  Why not, I asked myself.  We all could use a break from this frenzied time of year.

With bright sunshine and a projected high of about 60 degrees, my new and improved plan was to knock out shopping for Christmas day – since my family is coming to celebrate Hanukkah – and then my daughter and I would embark on our afternoon adventure.   
Unfortunately things didn’t progress as I had initially hoped.  I waited in line for about 50 minutes at the bank and made a few other stops as well.  By the time I got home, about seven hours had passed since the initial thrill I experienced when my thoughts raced from birds to beach.    
At this point, I had grown tired and agitated from the holiday madness that surrounded my every move. I felt betrayed by my own business before pleasure mantra that holds me captive to endless tasks.

I was wistful too, imagining myself seated on a bench overlooking the ocean, most likely with an ice cream cone in hand, wishing I had succumbed to my early morning eagerness to walk barefoot on the sand. 

Today, I didn’t hear the birdies, and the sun was replaced by rain.  I didn’t have that same yearning as I did yesterday to throw caution to the wind, but with a forecasted high above 70, I simply couldn’t resist.  As I headed out to tend to yesterday's unfinished to-do list, off came the UGGS.

And on went the flip flops.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Driving Me Crazy

Last night’s conversation with my husband during our post-Thanksgiving dinner sans the turkey and tofu but with our favorite trimmings—stuffing and cranberry crisp—focused on what we see as each other’s “issues.”  After we agreed that I could name a dozen that I see in him and yet I have nothing obvious—the perennial joke—I admitted there are internal demons I grapple with, that night being a perfect example of a struggle that has tamed over the years but continues to linger.   

Other than regularly sharing my pet peeves such as apostrophes utilized in the wrong place, or quotation marks where they don’t belong, I decided that in the spirit of our partnership, I would give my husband a glimpse of the inner workings of my head and he would see that despite my cool exterior, I was ready to burst! 

Hadn’t he noticed that I had been obsessed with the current snowstorm, looking online at the weather channel, watching every TV station’s interpretation of the forecast models multiple times, and still I was hungry for more information?  This hadn’t just been in recent hours; I felt I’d been ruminating about it for days.

My issue was that once the storm ended, my 20 year-old daughter Amy, who goes to college at West Chester University (PA), would be driving on snow and ice-covered roads in the unfamiliar territory of Newtown Square at 8:30 a.m. the next morning for a new babysitting gig.  We experienced drivers know that early morning hours can be just as treacherous as nightfall, even on treated roads, not having had the benefits of prolonged sunshine and other traffic to melt away remaining trouble spots.   

It wasn’t that she was afraid to make the drive – she wasn’t; it wasn’t that I didn’t trust her to drive safely – I do; it wasn’t that I felt she shouldn’t be doing this – she’s doing exactly what she should be doing.  She was showing the signs of a young lady who is growing up and becoming more independent, the very reason I wanted her to go to college in the first place (academics aside, of course). 

And if I didn’t have a husband who would tell me I’m crazy, or worse yet may tell his co-workers during their daily lunch hour together, I may have offered—although I am sure I’d have heard in the tone of her voice just how appalled she was—to pick her up in West Chester this morning, drive her to Newtown Square and made the return trip…that’s often my first instinct and, granted, that is an issue.  But, she is my baby…need I say more?  

While the thought of her navigating these roads during compromised conditions was driving me crazy, my reaction was actually a drastic improvement over years before. There were times when just the act of one of our children driving anywhere regardless of weather conditions would have sent me straight to my emergency-only chocolate selection hidden in the back of the refrigerator.

Clearly, my concerns have nothing to do with my daughter’s abilities. They are about my letting go and understanding that we are two separate individuals, not one long person with different ages, personalities and interests. It's is my job to continue to encourage her to make independent decisions and not secretly wish she’d crawl back in utero.

She kindly called me this morning before she left as I asked her to, and we discussed defensive driving and hidden black ice and everything I could say (for the umpteenth time) with one breath before she would cut me off.  Her one-word text “Here!” was a most welcome four-letter word!  Now in lieu of that I'm waiting to see her smiling face at my door, having returned not only from her babysitting job but from college for her winter break.    

I think it would be in everyone’s best interest if I keep my chocolate inventory well stocked.    

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gray, Gray, Go Away

A week later than usual—due to the poor timing of the Thanksgiving holiday this year—I anxiously arrived at the beauty salon to get my hair colored.  I was eager to tell my longtime hairdresser Karen that something went terribly wrong with last month’s touch-up, as gray popped up all over the place, even on my temples where just a couple months ago I didn’t recall having this eyesore.  I assured her that with an adjustment or two on her part, I was confident that this unwelcome hue could take a back seat to my golden-brown highlights or, better yet, go into hiding for another 10 years.   

My wonderfully talented and very diplomatic hair stylist smiled very politely and then, after a moment’s hesitation, reminded me that she empathizes; over time, she too has had to color her hair more often than she had in the past…therein was the truth, which she was gallantly trying not to have to spell out:  that as long as I age, there’s no stopping this wire-like silver presence from running rampant all over my head. 

Had I lighter hair—blonde—for example, maybe I would appreciate the gray complement, or, as my husband says, the sexy and sophisticated new look!  But, since it would present in such stark contrast to the nearly black hair I was born with, it’d be a stretch to embrace it as a natural transition, although it has been infiltrating my roots for some time now…to the tune of nearly 30 years!  I can still recall when I first took note of those intruders, shiny as holiday tinsel.  At that time, I truly believed if I could yank them out—albeit a painstaking process—one by one or give them the evil eye each time I passed a mirror, I’d prevent a mutiny.  

Boy, was I wrong.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mrs. Lachman

I remember that voice like I last heard it yesterday, and seeing her face a second later clinched it, which is noteworthy for someone like me who has a hard time recalling much of anything.  Right away I knew that the woman who walked in to Joe’s Peking Duck House last night was Mrs. Lachman, my 25 year-old son’s elementary school teacher-turned his middle-school tutor. It had been about 15 years since I had seen her and yet seconds after I said, “Mrs. Lachman?  I am Michael Heiman’s mom…you were his teacher,” that special feeling I got every time she came over to my house returned, this time tears welling up in my eyes, and I was just hoping they didn’t start rolling down my face.  Pathetic, I know, but accurate, nonetheless.

For years, Mrs. Lachman came to my house to help Mike, but I am certain that she made more of a difference in my life than in his. Yes, she helped him to perform well in class, and this led to his feeling pretty good about himself, both of which we all know are critical for the optimal mindset of an adolescent…yadda yadda…but it was her commitment to my child back then that I find so compelling, even 15 years after the fact.

I will be the first to admit that I have always parented best with assistance—enlisting the expertise and grip of a select grouping of special folks I’ve met along the way—and once on my team, that person is a VIP in my world, for life.