The following is a re-post first published October 23rd. We recently did a Momversation episode asking viewers as well as ourselves, "what would you be doing right now if you didn't have children?" a question I often ask myself, seldom answer and will never know.
It's only natural for us to daydream about different lives, homes, career paths... but the thing about fantasy? It doesn't fall asleep in your arms as you sing it to sleep, or tell you "your hair looks like an erupting volcano." It doesn't make you piss your pants laughing. It never tells as interesting a story.
Still. To be passionate is to fantasize about throwing it all away... For a moment. Or two. Sometimes even three.
Yesterday, in the costume shop, shopping for the accessories to complete the kids’ Halloween costumes, I had a moment.
A discombobulated, where the fuck am I? Who am I? moment. I used to have them frequently when Archer was a baby. When I was dealing with the authorities, trying to bust the perpetrator with my identity theft.
“Ma’am, I’m afraid the thief is you.”
But I've been past that point for a while. I don't fantasize about running away like I did back then, rebelling against responsibility - masking truth with make believe. Kicking and screaming because No! I don’t want to grow up. Motherhood, don’t make me or else! Or else I won’t invite you to my birthday party!
I used to think it mandatory to reinvent myself often. With dramatic haircuts and color: from platinum to blue black to platinum again. I'd wander into a tattoo parlor or get something pierced. Just to look different - to send a message to the universe and myself that I was willing to change. Because sometimes the only way to feel different is to look the part. Put on a hat and do a new dance.
I have since found new and less external ways to reinvent myself but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes, I find myself struck hard by the other side of the mirrored glass – the fork in the road like a giant whY in the middle of the room. And yesterday, in the costume shop, surrounded by disguises…
Fable was asleep in her stroller as I perused the walls of masks, costumes and liquid latex, pulling items off the wall, comparing wigs in nets, waving magic wands.
Then I turned a corner and into a new world.
Three young women reached for the various costumes stacked up the wall, stood-on-tiptoes, jumped and knocked them off the shelves, held the various disguises up to their American Apparel clad bodies. They were laughing. They were excited.
“You’ll look so hot in that,” one of them said.
“That with a pair of fishnets would be UH-Mazing.”
“Don’t you wish we could dress like this everyday?”
“Yes, I do!” I said.
The girls turned toward me.
Apparently, I was blogging out loud again. But it was more than that. For a moment I forgot who I was. I’d fallen down the rabbit hole into a parallel universe where I, too, was shopping for my “sexy witch” costume to wear to my friend’s Halloween party. Where I got to hang out with my girlfriends, spend the afternoon costume shopping, nary a wedding ring on my finger or a stroller in my hands. I wanted to look so totally hot in fishnets, too. I wanted to be the sexy witch again.
The moment lasted ten seconds at most and yet for those brief moments, my world fell apart. I was lost and confused, spun out and turned the wrong direction.
“I mean… what? I’m just… excuse me.”
“It’s okay. Cute baby.”
Cute life... I mean… “Thank you.”
I tried not to sound bitter. Resentful of their ability to be whomever they wanted whenever they wanted. Truthfully, I was jealous. I wanted to be there with my friends picking out my amazing costume, too. But where would I wear it? Certainly not trick or treating with my children. Or to Archer's preschool Halloween carnival.
I often wonder where I’d be right now if life went according to the plans I had at eighteen when I moved out of my parent’s house and into my own life. My plans to travel through my twenties, be free of commitment, live alone, host theme parties, excel at independence, shop with my girlfriends for Halloween costumes on early evening Wednesdays.
I’ve never regretted a decision, let alone the decision to devote my twenties to raising children and coloring within the same lines I used to twist and tear, shopping for costumes not my own for Halloween.
My family is my one true love, the thing that matters to me most of all and yet? I still have moments, same as before-- when I find myself with face pressed to the window, envious of the costumes that people wear on Halloween and year round.
Times I want to sit in the smoking section even though I say, “non.”
I took a turn out of the costume aisle and back to the accessories wall. Where I quickly found what I was looking for and fled to the checkout line. Past the girls with their arms full of wigs and the ghosts with flashing lights for eyes.
“You only live once,” people always say but its bullshit. You live a hundred thousand times – in a hundred thousand places with a hundred thousand people passing through, getting caught in the various webs we build out of cotton in our front yards. An infinity of flashing lights for an infinity of choices. Left or right? Up or down? Here? How about there, instead?
“Did you find everything you were looking for today?” the man at the register said as we approached.
“Yes, er... kind of."
And then this afternoon, as I was putting away my laundry, I found two pairs of fishnets still in their packaging, leftover from years ago, never worn.
Apparently, I was never the Sexy Witch for Halloween kind of girl. Not even then. Before the husband and the kids.
How could I have forgotten? Did I ever really change?
Time is a magician waiting to saw us all in half so that we might put ourselves back together again.