Monthly Archives: May 2017

Sisterhood of the Traveling Mom Jeans

My sisters and I used to wear each other’s clothing when we were teenagers. Occasionally, my brother was included. He was ten before he realized that tights weren’t the same as long underwear. The tradition of passing on clothes has continued, though unfortunately, Bill cannot be duped anymore.

My sisters and I, like every woman, have shrunk or grown over time, so the habit of passing along clothing has continued. My oldest sister has lost a bit of weight, whereas I have gone in the opposite direction. Lately, my clothes have taken to mocking me. ‘Really,’ they say derisively. ‘You’re going to force me over those hips again?’ My jeans in particular are very expressive. Sometimes they cat call from the closet, which is why I always sleep with the door shut.

I recently gave Linda four pairs of pants which no longer fit me. They were never nice to me, anyway, being the most scornful pieces of clothing ever worn. In turn, she gifted me with a pair of mom jeans. She’d gotten them from a friend, but they never fit so she passed them on. I haven’t worn anything like them since the nineties, when I dressed badly on a fairly consistent basis. I tried the mom jeans on just for a laugh.

When I looked in the mirror I saw my nineteen nineties silhouette. Like fly fishing waders, the bum joined the thighs in a continuous line. And yet there was a kindness to them. They practically purred as I buttoned them. The waist sat high, the relaxed fit gave them the feel of stiff pajamas. ‘You look marvelous,’ I heard them say. Having a kind, well mannered pair of pants went a long way toward soothing my self esteem.

The longer I wear them, the more I like them. It’s unlikely they’ll be seen outside the house unless I’m gardening or the apocalypse has struck and I haven’t had time to change. But its nice to have clothes that fit in a relaxed manner. ‘No pressure here,’ they say. And they mean it.

The next time you’re in a second hand store, find some khakis or jeans with the ‘mom’ look. Locate your size, then go one larger. Wear them at home for personal events like eating an extra big lunch, or working in the garden where you do a lot of squatting. You’ll love the feel and the complimentary nature of mom jeans.

Not everyone has conversations with their clothes, but as someone who does, let me say this. If your shirts or pants are too tight, you can be sure they’re making fun of you. Get the last laugh by throwing those bitches in a giveaway bag. Just don’t trade insults with them as you’re walking into the store. Not everyone understands the cruelty of a pair of Simon Chang yoga jeans. You can rest assured that I do.

I Remember Mama

My mother used to talk in tongues whenever I played the Beach Boys. She wasn’t speaking an ancient language. She was communicating with God in a very meditative way. And what she was saying was, ‘Man, I love this music.’

She said it during our road trips, and whenever we cut cotton for my babyTrekker business. At home, she loved gospel singers like Mahalia Jackson. With me, she reveled in the music from my teenage years.

‘They don’t make music like this anymore,’ she’d say, and keep on praying. Aloud. Sometimes she’d forget where we were and carry on, even while walking into a bank. But half the town would be dead by now if she hadn’t been praying, so I can’t complain.

She was not your average mother. When I was young, I wanted her to be like everyone else. Wear a house dress, stay home, and wait on us hand and foot. She declined to do that, and embarked on a nursing career, though she still managed to act like a house elf from the Harry Potter series. It was nothing for me to receive freshly ironed clothes, right before she left for work in the morning. There are other aspects of my lazy ways that I decline to share at this particular time, but let’s just say I was not the only child on the receiving end of things.

For years, I had this fantasy that I could go back in time and be a better daughter. I’d whip the other kids into shape, clean the house till it shone, and get excellent marks in school. My first novel was about someone doing just that. That story may never see the light of day, but it helped assuage my guilt. Which is another one of mother’s little helpers.

What mother doesn’t spend part of her life feeling bad for things she’s neglected? Maybe a few crackheads, but that’s about it. For the rest of us, guilt is an international past time. From time to time my mother would mention things she felt bad about. I’d get all indignant and say stuff like, “Are you saying I didn’t turn out well?”

She’d think about it. “Well, yes,” she’d say. She could be funny, too. A funny mom, a hard worker, a prayer warrior, a house elf, a refuge in times of trouble. The only unforgivable thing she ever did was to die. I think God must have heard one of her prayers, which loosely translated meant, ‘Please get me the hell out of here. I’m tired.’

You are missed every day, mom. And not just by your kids. Other people’s kids miss you, too. I know because they tell me all the time. So, happy Mother’s Day, mom. I hope you’re not working too hard up there, and I hope dad is finally teaching you how to dance. In honour of all our road trips, here’s a little something for you to enjoy. The words aren’t exactly the right sentiment, but you love the music. And the title hits home. Because I’d love to get you back.

Sometimes, When we Limp

When my husband and I got married, I started hemming his pants for him. To my surprise, he had one leg a half inch shorter than the other. I sewed everything accordingly. It was only when he saw a chiropractor about four years later that we realized he didn’t have to live that way. After a couple spinal adjustments, I had to fix all those pant hems.

The other morning I was rushing to the door on my way uptown when I realized I was having the same experience. “Look!” I said to my husband. “My left leg is shorter than my right!” He thought I was faking. I was so freaked out, he finally started showing proper concern. We couldn’t figure out what had happened. I had no pain. No memory of falling (recently) or hurting my back. But I definitely had one leg at least an inch longer than the other.

I walked back and forth across the room, my hysteria growing. “What the hell?” I double checked my left heel, thinking that something must be stuck there, but there was nothing. Just a definite hitch in my gait as I walked back and forth across the room. “I’m not changing all my pants,” I declared, which was my¬† pathetic way of shouting into the void. Not that I believe in the void.To me, there’s always someone on the other end of the line.

We have a lot going on with our family at large. Some people very dear to me are facing big health challenges. Why not me, I thought. I’ve never been one to panic, but, dammit. “I must have a tumour on my heel,” I said aloud. I was preparing to take off my boot when I caught sight of my right foot.

I was wearing two different boots. In my defense, they’re almost identical, except that one pair is flat. I have never done this before. Never left the house with two different socks or shoes. I’ve occasionally worn a shirt inside out. The consolation prize was the five minutes of laughter we shared, and the relief that my leg was all right. The downside is, I’m definitely a person who’s not paying attention. Since I already know this, it doesn’t really hurt my feelings. But I thought I’d improved over the years.

Perhaps the slippery slope of distraction means I spend a little more time turning in circles while wondering what I’m supposed to be doing. When I experience stress, I stop paying attention. And life has a way of throwing things at us when we least expect it. For now, I’ll hobble along. Do my best to keep my brain engaged. It may not work every time, but you can be sure my boots will match.