Have you ever looked back and caught sight of yourself in a Target three-way mirror? Let me rephrase. Have you ever wandered into the cute Juniors section at the front and convinced yourself you still look young enough to pull off those trendy Mossimo and Xhilaration pieces? Well, if you’re over thirty, raising a small child, and favoring sleep over exercise (like me) I’m willing to bet you have. I’m willing to bet you know just how jarring that sight can be. And, oh, how irrevocably disappointing.
I’m nearing my 37th birthday and have to tell you, there’s hardly something as sobering as catching an unexpected glimpse of yourself in an unfortunately placed mirror. I was on a mission to procure a green shirt for my pre-schooler the night before St. Patrick’s Day (of course) and was lured by the siren’s song of the boho pieces and nineties-inspired outfits right at the top of the aisle. I should have known better, having already worn these pieces un-ironically the first time around.
Still, I wandered in, picked up a few garments and brought them with me to the fitting room with Lucy in tow. I thought there’d be no harm in trying on something ‘cute’ and bringing home an item that could potentially jazz up my yoga-pant-based wardrobe. It was all regular upbeat Target shopping. Until I twirled for a glance and found myself staring at an odd angle of my frumpy mom body with the sad, sagging eyes to match my face.
I haven’t pivoted so quickly since my husband asked me if I was carrying a new handbag last date night (Rebecca Minkoff end-of-year clearance sale, thankyouverymuch!). But I’m tired, worn to the nub, and hardly recognizing that woman in the mirror. In my mind, I’m still 28-ish. But that mirror says otherwise.
Above: One of —s e v e r a l– awkward selfies in the mirror at home. At least I was wearing ‘grown-up clothes’ from Target’s collaboration with Kirna Zabete a few years ago. Sadly, I wasn’t joking about wearing a dress I counted on throughout my pregnancy back then.
I don’t know when I missed my cue. When that shift happened between being able to pull off the band t-shirts at Forever 21 and the restock that suddenly made me old and awkward. That sad older woman I used to stare at as she went wandering through the aisles picking up too-tight, too-short garments that are entirely and obviously inappropriate is now me. It now takes no less than 20 well-lit selfies at awkward angles to get some sort of photo I can send my husband to remind him I’m still that girl he married (right?). And yet I still don’t look like a carefree, stylized version of the trendy mom walking along the edgy urban wall with my well-dressed tot not far behind.
I don’t know who these Pinterest moms are, but their genes have certainly skipped me. The Insta-moms with the decked out kids and the adorably-styled ‘athleisure’ outfits are not my tribe. Hell, I don’t even think I have a tribe these days. Who has the time? Where are these uber stylish moms learning to find the motivation to work out like a twenty-something and dress like an off-duty model? (If you are one of these uber stylish moms, please, DO TELL.)
Is this it, ladies? Is this just what happens in the middle of parenting? Do we forget ourselves and just make peace with that? When exactly do we start aging in reverse like J Lo? Because I was totally counting on having the same kind of DNA stored in there somewhere – it’s the only superpower I thought my Cuban genes would bestow on me.
But it hasn’t happened. And I’m beginning to lose hope that it will. Because I love pizza. And sharing cupcakes with Lucy. And moving around easily in yoga pants. And not putting on makeup every damn day because I know I’ll sweat it right off. And I cannot bring myself to say that “leggings are not pants” even though, deep down, my twenty-something self is cringing. So, I’ll probably be back at the front of the store, convincing myself into buying the adorable top I could probably (maybe?) get away with.
But that Target mirror – oh man, that thing is still laughing at me.