Last month the church decided to consolidate all midweek activities for children over the age of eight into one time slot on Wednesday evenings. Hallelujah–I no longer have to run all over town four or five days a week. One trip–and I stay and help now too, since I got my new calling (calling: that's Mormon jargon for an assignment your bishop volunteers you to do for an indefinite period of time) to teach the 12 and 13 year old girls.
Anyway. Last week as we were getting our coats and shoes together, my daughter looks at me and says, "You're not wearing that shirt are you?"
"Actually, I am." I said.
"Mom," she protested, "We have, like, ten minutes before we have to leave. You have time to change your shirt."
The shirt in question is a dark green t-shirt of the thinner variety. It has an ear of corn screenprinted on in and it reads, "Shucks!". Corny, I know, but I didn't pick it out because I was charmed by its wit. I found it in a bag of hand-me-downs meant for my boys a few years ago and thought–Hey, now there's a good shirt. It is loose, lightweight, and doesn't show every little splatter. Well, except for the white stripe from when I was painting the fence last spring and maybe a few other splatters here and there. But it's in significantly better shape than the grey shirt it replaced. That one had twenty-seven different colors of paint on it and was so thin it didn't even exist anymore in places. That shirt was not suitable for public viewing. My Shucks! shirt, well. I wear it (and others like it) while tending explosive small children and at the end of the day, if I have somewhere to go, well, I don't have anyone to impress, do I? I expressed this sentiment out loud.
My daughter disagreed. I could tell this from the look she was trying to not have on her face. So I tried to compromise by putting on a dark grey hoodie over it. "Now can I wear it?" I asked.
"It's fine," my son groaned. (Yes! I thought, My boys will back me up on this one.) "Look, she can zip it up."
I zipped it to my neck and promised not to take it off. I might have crossed my fingers.
"Okay," she said, "But you are NOT wearing those shoes."
The shoes are twice as wide as my feet (all the better to slip on, my dear) and also covered with twenty-seven colors of paint. They are older than the grey shirt, you see. I wear them all over the house, yard and garden because they are easy on, easy off, and they are comfortable. Indestructible, too. I try not to wear them to church or the store, but sometimes I forget. Sometimes I really don't care.
So I took off the shoes. I peeked out the blinds to where five of my children were getting in the van and noted the time. I had eight minutes. My conscience twanged. I sighed. Not only did I take off the shirt, I got in the shower just in case there was lingering vomit to rinse out of my hair. You never know. I put on clean everything. I got in the van in the eight-minute time window and passed inspection. It was dark, but still, I passed.
She cared. I find that disturbing and comforting, both. I don't remember caring what my mother wore. It's like she sees me as a real person, and I guess that's the comforting part, isn't it?