Saturday, November 28, 2015

What Not To Wear

I know it was the 60s, but what the heck was I wearing?
Rose and Julie are home for Thanksgiving, which can mean only one thing: a marathon viewing of TLC’s epic “What Not to Wear.” For the uninitiated, WNTW style mavens Stacy and Clinton stage interventions involving hopelessly frumpy/sloppy/trashy-looking women. Their sad wardrobes are examined as S and C hold their collective nose, and, mostly, thrown away. Then the unfortunately attired subjects are handed $5000 and coached through a shopping spree. At the end of the show, after being more suitably clad, plus having hair and makeup transformations, the Lucky Ladies parade in front of their applauding friends.

 My favorite episode from yesterday starred Denise, a flight attendant given to wearing a big blonde bouffant hairdo, eensy-weensy skirts, most with sequins or frills, and enough makeup to stock a branch of Sephora. Denise thought she looked “super cute,” and wondered why she wasn’t attracting the right kind of attention. Denise almost burst into tears as her glitzy costumes were flung in the trash can, her hair extensions were discarded, and her huge globs of foundation and eye shadow were wiped off.  When she appeared as the “new” Denise, you could just tell that she would revert to spike heels and big bows in her hair within the week.

Which got me thinking. What kind of attention am I attracting with my appearance? My wardrobe is chock-full of items from LOFT, a relatively stylish store. My hair is regularly colored and cut. I am already a makeup minimalist (lipstick is reserved for special occasions). So why do I feel certain I would not pass muster with Stacy and Clinton?

I think it’s my laziness at play, for the most part. My hair only really looks good during the 24 hours immediately following my appointment, because flat ironing my tresses makes my arm hurt. My clothes only attract the attention of spots and stains, which leap onto me as soon as I exit my bedroom (a situation only made worse since the arrival of baby Aiden, who regularly baptizes me with smushed banana and goldfish cracker crumbs), and it’s too much bother to change. And speaking of change, I haven’t replaced my mascara since 2013 (I think you are supposed to pitch it every couple of months).  I like to think I exude insouciance and a certain bohemian flair, but I fear I most resemble someone who does not own a mirror.

It’s so easy to laugh at the hapless Denise and the other misfits on “What Not to Wear.” It’s harder to think of myself as one of their ilk. The odds of my snagging a reality TV show and five grand in mad money are slim to none, so I’m going to need to go DIY and stage my own intervention. Starting tonight. Out go the ancient blush and ink-spotted jeans.  I pledge to fuss with the hair again and wear lipstick on a more regular basis. No one may recognize me, but I will be proud of myself for a change.

Some of the more stylish Seyfrieds!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Playgroup Redux

CLC Playgroup makes pine cone birdfeeders
Yesterday morning, at age 58, I hosted a playgroup at church. My grandson Aiden accompanied me (which gave me a little street cred). We had five families with a total of seven kids under age five. To say it brought back memories would be an understatement. Why, I felt practically 28 again! Except for the part where I could hardly get up off the floor after building with blocks! And took a nap immediately afterward! 

For the uninitiated, “playgroup” is a lifeline for young parents who fear their vocabularies have shrunk to whatever is the letter of the week on Sesame Street. Ideally, the adults chat while the kiddos interact. Doesn’t always work out that way, but everyone tries.  I remember loving just getting out of the house, whose walls were, horror-movie style, rapidly closing  in on me.

Back in the day, we were mostly stay-at-home moms. Over coffee and calorie-laden pastries (a boon for those of us aspiring to lose those pesky extra pregnancy pounds), we swapped childrearing tips and generally solved the problems of the world. I made several lifelong friends from playgroup, and have enjoyed seeing their little ones become terrific young adults. But there were some challenging mornings in East Oreland for sure.

Alone, the kids were each a total delight. En masse, not always so much. Hair was pulled, dolls were swiped, and the tears would flow. There were a few sturdy toddlers we steered clear of (mine were on the small side), lest the wee Seyfrieds be mowed over on the quest for more Duplo blocks. The first-time mom tended to hover, and be totally distracted by any hint of unhappiness from her little precious. The fifth (or sixth) time mom tended to keep on gabbing through epic battles over Tonka trucks and My Little Ponies. I was somewhere in the middle, not 100% obsessive about playground dramas, but acutely aware of my kids’ behavior in public (not always stellar).
Rare PJ playgroup pic--"Driving" a tractor at Merrymead Farm

Random playgroup memories include Sheridan, who contentedly pushed a toy car around all morning, oblivious to the others. Then there was Evan my escape artist, who always added excitement to any field trip to pumpkin patch or zoo. Rose was notable for snubbing the other children altogether, in favor of sitting up at the mom’s table “chatting.” By the time PJ and Julie came along, I felt I was aging out of playgroup, and gravitating more towards the elementary school parents.  It was with a pang that I one day realized my playgroup days were over.

Until yesterday. It was a joy to return to playgroup after such a long absence. While their issues are different (many more moms work full time), we are at heart the same, trying to do our best to raise the next generation. I loved being with my younger counterparts, and felt very encouraged about the future. This new crop of youngsters is in great hands.

So bring on next month! Save me some coffeecake— and help me up!