Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Motherhood

Superwomen Wear Red, Patent Leather Heels

johnI’m a great dancer in my daytime fantasies. In fact, whenever I feel the need to bust a move, people step back, sway enthusiastically, and clap for me in a Saturday Night Fever-ish sort of way. I can sing, too! Not that teeny-bopper, I-think-I’m-in-love, crooning sort of singing, but that Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, make-you-wanna-cry-’cause-you-really-knew-love-like-that kind of singing. And I smile. Yep, a beautiful, newly bleached, toothy grin like a Miss America contestant after giving a vague but applause inducing answer to an interview question about protecting baby polar bears or something. I’m a fabulous, multi-talented, super-duper sort of woman, and I know it!

There’s an undeniable, well-deserved confidence in my fantasy self. The sun shines brighter when I leave the house, and people are genuinely glad to be in my presence. I expertly move through adversity with a cool head, cunning wit, and multiplicity of perspective. I’m endearing and funny and smart.

As a kid, I used to lay across my bed after a particularly horrifying day at school and daydream about the great woman I would be. I would travel the world making intellectual speeches about the state of this or that, wearing red high heels and tight dresses to accentuate the curves nature so cruelly denied me as an adolescent. I would have a wonderful husband with a 1970’s Billy Dee billyWilliams face, a 1980’s Bill Cosby set of family values, and a 1990’s Will Smith sense of humor. We would be perfectly matched with perfect kids who could eat chocolate ice cream without dripping a spot on their pristine white dresses. I would be the envy of all the girls who used to call me names like two-backs and five-head and all the boys who never wanted to tackle me flirtatiously in a game of flag footfall, and I wouldn’t even care! I would be secure in myself and always happy.

I leaped out of bed after spending an hour daydreaming about the woman i would be after 40 (some things never change, right?). After groaning to myself about the long day I knew I was going to have, I decided the time had come for me to act like I had a job to get to on time. I turned some music on low and looked in the refrigerator for something quick to eat before getting ready. Now, running grossly behind schedule, I hopped into the shower for a quick wash, opted for pants because I did not have time to shave, and completed all the other necessary early morning rituals in a tenth of the time it would normally take.

Flying through the house looking for my red, patent leather heels, I bumped hard into the Daredevil who was just waking.

“We don’t run in this house!” she yelled, looking me squarely in the eye as I reached down to help her up from the floor.

“I know, I’m sorry.” I said, smiling at her searing imitation of me.

“You know better, Mommy!” she insisted, obviously very angry that I had not only broken a house rule, but had also inflicted a minor but undeserving harm to her person.

“You’re right; I do.”

“What you running around all crazy for anyway?” she asked with her hands tightly clenching her hips and her right foot patting away furiously.

“I’m looking for my red shoes. I can’t find them, but I need them so I won’t be late for work.”

“Oh, they’re in my bed.”

“What do you mean they’re in your bed?”

“I was sleeping with them last night.” There was nothing apologetic in her answer.

“Why?”

“Because I like them, and they’re cute. When I wear them, I feel like you.”red shoes

I bent down to kiss her on the forehead, and she clasped her hands around my neck in a dangling sort of hug.

“I love you, Daredevil.”

“I love you, too, Mommy.”

I walked into her room and pulled her covers back. Sure enough, there were my red shoes. I sat on her bed and put the shoes on my feet.

I stood up, smoothed my pants, did the booty check (you know we all do it), and walked a bit more confidently out of the room.

“Mommy?” the Daredevil asked following me to the full length mirror.

“Yes, baby.”

“You look awesome today.”

“Thank you, baby!”

“You are the best mommy in the world.”

“And you are the best four-year-old daughter in the world!”

An upbeat tune poured quietly from the radio, and the Daredevil and I danced an impromptu routine in front of the mirror.

“Mommy?”

“Yes, baby.”

“Can I get some shoes like those when I get big?”

“You may not even want shoes like this when you get big,” I teased.

“Oh, yes, I will. They’re great, just like you!”

“No, I think you’re the great one!”

“Well,” she said, swaying back and forth and clapping to the beat, “you’re a great dancer, Mommy!”

I laughed, watching the goofy, off-beat reflection of myself dancing in front of the mirror.

Maybe my dreams have already come true.

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