Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Cardigan of Becoming

A person actually said out loud today "Your mother is right." That person was talking about me. I am a mother. Someone depends on me for advice, for food, transportation, affection, common-sense hygiene protocols, the purchasing of anti-bacterial soaps when appropriate.

That this has been so for nearly 15 years now didn't really lessen my (temporary) astonishment.

It still catches me by surprise, this re-re-re-re-discovery that I'm not the person I remember myself being. I have now, for example, a wide-ranging collection of cardigans. Some are zippered argyle, some have little pearlescent appliques, but what unites them all is their boxy cardigan-ness. I used to be a creature found almost without exception in sweatshirts two sizes too big for me, cut for men. I moped around Paris dressed like a refugee for an entire year and cut a similar figure in other world capitals on two continents. No one could accuse me of dressing for the approval of the masses.

Which makes the trim little cardigans making their pleas for social acceptability that much the stranger. They have little pockets, some of them, for kleenex or hair ties or quarters. There is a Lego Theoden in one, given to me by a certain small person when I was heading off for a new client meeting (which went so well that I've carried it around with me most places ever since).

The sweatshirts and shapeless jackets were disguises that hid my youth and beauty with ruthless efficiency from every male gaze that might possibly be headed my way. There are complicated reasons for that. The cardigans, though, are a costume. They say, in a relaxed and competent way, "Lookie here, mommy is in the room. Of course I have a tissue and a Lifesaver. Let me dry your tears, affirm your hopes and dreams, and make you a healthy though delicious snack with precisely the right amount of kale in it."

I wear my cardigans like Theoden wields Herugrim. If employed at just the right time with just the right amount of flash and guile, they distract from the fact--the cold, hard, fact--that I am no one's idea of a Good Mommy. I am flighty and undependable, selfish, moody, incompetent, ruthless, dreamy, distracted, bored, worn out, uninterested, rude, and filled with ennui. I am a terrible cook. The laundry room is basically the set for The Upside Down. There are two desiccated mangoes on the dining room table that have been there since August. A professional writer and editor, it took me 11 tries to figure out how to spell "desiccated." But I am full of love, full of hope, full of good intentions--and nothing says all that like a super-soft Italian cardigan with shiny buttons and roomy pockets. Here, child, put your dreams in my pocket and I will tell you a story about how they all come true.

1 comment:

  1. This is so so beautifully written. I want cardigan hugs from my mom now. Absolutely lovely. I don't really comment on blogs but this made me. Lovely post, just adorably lovely. Cheers to good luck Legos :)