The minute I stopped caring about what other people thought and started doing what I wanted to do, is the minute I finally felt free.
The school year has officially begun.
And I have a cold.
The cold started a few days ago with a mighty sore throat which fizzled into sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose, and now I feel mostly fine (sorta, kinda) except I sound like I am walking around with a clothespin on my nose.
It's that voice where when people ask, "How are you?" and you mumble something about "having a little bit of a cold", they tilt their heads, take a few steps back and say..."Yeah. You sound like it."
Sorry about that, everyone I have spoken to or come in contact with in the last 24 hours.
But in spite of all that, I was up with plenty of time to get Annie up and ready, feed her something that resembled breakfast (none of my kids are good breakfast eaters), make her lunch, take a first day of school picture AND get to school ON TIME. BAM!
That is some stellar parenting right there, People.
On. Time. Day 1 and we are batting a 1,000!!
Even Annie said as we pulled up to the parking lot and saw millions of uniformed children still running around the playground waiting to go inside, "Wow! We aren't even late!"
That's right, Sister. Mom is going all out this year.
I was riding high on the euphoria of our on-time arrival right up to the moment I started looking around at all of the other beaming, on-time moms and dads. Okay, mostly the moms...I don't care what the dads are doing.
I'll tell you what they were doing. They were looking showered, freshly coiffed (yep, coiffed) and dressed in clothes that can only be described as an "outfit" is what they were doing.
Standing out in the parking lot this didn't strike me as too much of a big deal. The children were creating a huge distraction and were still the focal point of all those cameras, cellphone cameras and iPads (Seriously, who are you people who take photos with an iPad? I'm sorry but I fail to see how holding up something the size of a small television to take a picture is a step forward in technology). We were just a sea of parents waving goodbye to our little lemmings as they marched off the cliff.
But once all those little cuties disappeared into the building, the smoke and mirrors were gone. Poof.
All of the parents started dutifully moving toward the church where the First Day Parent Coffee Get Out Your Checkbooks And Sign Up For Stuff Thingy was going on. That's when my skirted yoga pants, clunky running shoes, and going-on-day-two-without-a-shower-hair became a bit more of a liability. Inside that church hall it became glaringly evident that most parents felt showering and getting dressed (not only dressed, but dressed cute) was part of the First Day of School regimen.
Rats. I missed that memo.
There was a time this might have really bothered me. There was a time I wondered why I couldn't quite manage to be as pulled together as those other moms. There was a time when I might have left that gathering worried about the impression I had made and given myself a good 15 minute lecture on the way home (even though it's only two minutes to get home, but I would have sat in the car for the extra 13 minutes finishing my talking-to) about how it really should not be that hard to get up in time to shower and look presentable on your child's first day of school.
There was a time....but not anymore.
One of the things I've learned over this past year as I have tried to live with heightened awareness of my children's growing, changing, learning and eventually leaving is that as they are doing all of that growing, changing and learning, hopefully we are too. And somewhere along the line in these 18 years of growing, I stopped worrying about little stuff like dropping off your kid in workout clothes and possibly picking her up still wearing those same workout clothes.
I don't think you ever want to get to a place where you truly don't care what other people think of you. Because if you take that to it's furthest extreme that is really the root of narcissism. Of course we need to care about the feelings, perceptions and perspectives of others. We need to care insofar that we don't go around offending people and behaving like boors and showing up at weddings in a tube top. But while I applaud those moms today who had freshly washed hair, cute cropped jeans and the perfect top (I really do, I don't know how you do it), I don't feel badly that mom wasn't me today.
It might be me tomorrow. You just never know.
But, seriously, don't hold your breath...