One day when I was in my early teens, my Mother came into my room and found me crying hysterically. Always the lifesaver, she grabbed me up, and held me, trying to stop the crying and save me from my near death, pre-teen trauma. When the hysteria was over and my Mother got me calmed down enough to speak, she asked me what was wrong.
“Mother! I’m ugly! A boy told me I am butt ugly!” A dumb boy had to make it even worse by saying it was all a big joke that he even liked me and he wouldn’t go steady with me if someone paid him. Ohhhh, the pre-teen pain and agony. Ugly was a new one. I hadn’t been called ugly yet. Short, yes. Freckled yes. Butt ugly? Never. Ouch!
Now that I am a Mom, I understand feeling pain for your child. I bet my Mother was feeling it that day for me too. Mom, always at the ready with lots of tissues, got me spiffed back up and said I certainly wasn’t butt ugly. I cried more and said my friends were prettier, had better clothes, hair, could put on make-up like movie stars and could walk jiggling their hips like proper teenagers.
Me? I was behind! I wasn’t in “The Club.” I hadn’t crossed over the threshold into womanhood like most of my friends and really didn’t want to. I was far more interested in mastering the latest flip on the balance beam. When my Dad went to Russia, I was relentless begging him to bring me back an authentic Russian leotard like Olga Korbut had worn in the Olympics. I worked on mastering the splits in all three directions while folding the laundry. I was determined to look as much like Romanian Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Nadia Comaneci as I possibly could. She was my hero. None of this translated into pretty for the boy of interest that particular day. He tossed me aside with one “butt ugly” swoop of his prepubescent face and went onto another girl with her supposed prettiness, great clothes, long hair, makeup, and jiggly hips.
All knowing Mother, with her great wisdom, did give me wonderful advice that day which I have carried with me throughout my life. She said, “Jodi dear, So-and-So isn’t all that particularly attractive. She doesn’t wear expensive clothing. She has ordinary hair. She has dime store cosmetics. She has probably practiced her walking skills by spending too much time adoring herself in the mirror. Furthermore, she shouldn’t be jiggling her hips like that, it’s completely inappropriate!”
“But Mother! Shhh Jodi. You are beautiful. You can pay more attention to your clothes. You can start by ironing them. Even the most humble clothes look 100 times better when ironed. You can periodically take your hair out of its ponytail, get out of your leotard and put on some of the darling clothes I buy you. I will help you mix and match so you will see how to stretch your wardrobe. We’ll visit the cosmetics counter at Bullocks and ask the saleswomen how to properly apply cosmetics for a girl of your age. We’ll find out how you can properly care for your skin. While we are at Bullocks, we’ll sign you up for Charm School. You’ll learn your basic etiquette skills, manners, how to properly get in and out of a car without showing your panties (GASP!), walk a runway and eat politely while on a date.”
A couple of weeks later, I was Miss Charming, Charm School graduate. I learned how to walk with a book on my head and can still get in and out of a car without showing my panties.
What my Mom did that day was give me some special gifts. Unconditional love, acceptance, and motivation. She also taught me the mix and match. Now she does the same thing with my daughter Stephanie. Besides being reminded that I was loved unconditionally, I was told I was beautiful. Beautiful? Mom’s always think that, don’t they? It’s great how they are always in your corner, rooting you on and thinking no one is better than you.
She also taught me something about self confidence. She taught me that you don’t have to be the tallest one in the room to feel the tallest. You don’t have to have the most expensive clothes to feel well dressed. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a haircut to feel like your hair looks amazing. You can apply dime store cosmetics with a skilled hand and it can turn out like a masterpiece.
My Mom’s best advice goes with me everywhere I go and it can’t be beat. Walk in with confidence, hold your head up high and wear a great smile; you’ll light up a room.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Thanks for always being in my corner and making me feel like the tallest, brightest and best thing in the world. I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.