Reflections from a Friday: The Princess and the Peep-toe
"Mommy, who is that man with you on that picture?" Isaiah asked me the other day. I was on all fours digging into the back of my closet trying to find my other bronze peep-toe pump. Not that I was planning on going anywhere or doing anything. I just feel good in those bronze peep-toe pumps, and wearing them almost always automatically boosts my mood. I hadn't seen them since last summer, and realized that I needed them front and center should I need a "You go, girl!" moment.
"What man?" I called over my shoulder. "What picture?"
I still couldn't find my shoe which had now turned into an obsessive-compulsive adventure. Again, I wasn't going anywhere, nor was I planning to put them on right then and there, but this had not been a great self-image day for me. In addition to having a break-out on my face fit for a teenager working fries at Wendy's, I was also feeling frustrated that morning with my level of fitness. I discovered (and confirmed) that morning that I could definitely pinch more than an inch, and then made the mistake of stepping onto my bathroom scale while feeling critical of myself. Bad move. So for this reason, I needed to find my happy shoes. Knowing they were there, side by side in my closet, ready to provide me instant "it girl" status would make me feel better. At least a little better.
"The man in that book with you. Is he a doctor at your job?" Isaiah continued while doing random kung fu kicks and karate chops behind me.
"Bud, I don't know what you're talking about." I still couldn't find my shoe, and now everything was strewn on the floor in front of my closet. I felt bad that I was so distracted, but since Isaiah was clearly at least equally as interested in his self taught martial arts as he was his inquisition, I turned back to the closet to continue my quest.
"That man with the light face. Did he come to my birthday party?"
I looked on every shelf and in every box. Still no peep toe. Ugggh. I decided to start over and wade through the mess of sandals, boots, heels, and pumps scattered around me. I needed that shoe. Today had just been one of those days. One of those days when you make a mental inventory of every deliciously rich and fattening thing you've eaten all month with regret. I reached down and pinched my inch(es.) Uggh. I needed that shoe.
"What man with the 'light face'? Honey, I am not sure what you are talking about." I turned around and faced him while sitting cross-legged on the floor. Sigh. I could feel the big 4-0 creeping up on me faster than Usain Bolt.
Isaiah spun around, kicked, and then faced me with his best Bruce Lee pose and glare. He leaped out of the stance and replied, "With the hat on. That man with the hat on his head with you on the picture."
What? I squinted my eyes and shook my head. "Isaiah, what in the world are you talking about? Show mommy the picture so I can know what you're talking about." As I watched him dart out of my bedroom toward the living room, I rested my chin in my palms while leaning forward on propped elbows. I could feel that annoying breakout under my fingertips. Bleecchh.
That's when Isaiah skipped back into the room carrying an "Us" magazine. "Right here, Mommy," he said while pointing to the shiny paper, "Who is this man right here with you in the picture?"
I turned my head sideways to see the picture. Really? I looked up and into Isaiah's eyes, wide and earnest and then glanced back down at the magazine.
What I saw was better than my bronze peep-toe happy shoe, a visit to the hair salon, and my favorite dress all combined on the same day. It was Halle Berry. On a picture. In a magazine. Looking awesome. And my son--my insightful, bright, and inquisitive five-year-old son--looked at a picture of Halle freakin'-Berry, and thought it was me. Like really thought it was me.*~sigh~*
"Oh sweetie," I whispered, "that's not Mommy. You know that's not Mommy." But he pulled back and looked at the picture again with an "It's not??" look on his face--which warmed my heart, faded my blemishes, and unpinched my inches even more.He had no idea how much I needed that at that moment. I grabbed him and hugged him tight.
"Besides, I only like to hug you, Zachary and Daddy like that, so you know that's not Mommy," I added while squeezing him and tickling his tummy. His innocent laughter sounded like music.
"And Mommy you're prettier because you're the princess of our house and she's not, right?" He gave me an exaggerated smile complete with squenched eyes and every last one of his baby teeth gleaming like tiny white Chiclets (less the two missing at the bottom.) Then he planted a big kiss on my cheek, gave me one butterfly (eyelash) kiss and one Eskimo kiss. Unabashed affection-- fit for a princess. Before I knew it, he was off my lap and causing a ruckus in another part of the house. Just like that. Suddenly, finding my peep-toe pump didn't seem so important any more.
I stood up, walked over to the mirror, and smiled at my almost forty, somewhat frazzled, t-shirt clad, imperfect self. I curtsied to my royal reflection and said, "You go, girl."
Honestly? I write this blog to share the human aspects of medicine + teaching + work/life balance with others and myself -- and to honor the public hospital and her patients--but never at the expense of patient privacy or dignity.
Thanks for stopping by! :)
"One writes out of one thing only--one's own experience. Everything depends of how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give."
~ James Baldwin (1924 - 1987)
"Do it for the story." ~ Antoinette Nguyen, MD, MPH
Details, names, time frames, etc. are always changed to protect anonymity. This may or may not be an amalgamation of true,quasi-true, or completely fictional events. But the lessons? They are always real and never, ever fictional. Got that?