When I was young, my mom wrote an article that was published in the Boston Globe. The title of the article was, “Forget the Suit, She Wants a Tutu.” You can read the full thing below, if you’re interested. I’ve always loved that article. It makes me smile at my mom’s wit and the fact that my own personality and penchant for tiaras was evident at so young an age. Now that I’m a mom, I see this article with new eyes. It’s more than just a silly anecdote, it’s a truthful dive into what her life was like as a new mother. She died in 2003, so I can’t ask her about it, but the article remains an important glimpse into her experience.
It’s also an article about me – and although I’m older, there are some aspects of my personality that just haven’t changed much. I was artistic and I had a creative vision for what I wanted, and I really didn’t care if I conformed or not. Sometimes, when I feel self-conscious or confused, I look to the article to remember the spunky little kid who dressed up as the Queen of the World for a “dress up like your mother” theme party.
Here’s the full text of her article.
Forget the Suit, She Wants a Tutu
The Boston Globe | Tuesday, September 4, 1990I used to be a career woman. My vitae was two pages of accumulated degrees and continuing education credits. People attending conferences recognized me in hotel banquet rooms. Banks sent me credit cards. My chiropractor sent me birthday greetings. Success was mine. Then came motherhood.
I detoured off the career path and started practicing the Earth Mother skills I developed in the ’70s. I baked bread and processed baby food. I cook with tofu and bought organic potatoes. I wore blue jeans and sweatshirts. Folk music filled the nursery. Life was satisfying except for my insecurities. Could I be a good role model for my daughter with an outdated vitae and suits that didn’t fit? Would she achieve career goals and personal fulfillment if she never saw me dressed for success? I saved those old clothes to remind us of who I was and who she could be.
The opportunity to prove myself a worthy mother arrived in the mail when Hannah was 4. She was invited to her first theme party. Guests were requested to dress like their mothers. She needed my clothes. She would look like the role model I wanted to be. My other self could finally come out of the closet. I was thrilled. She was horrified.
I opened my closet doors. She approached my credentials: suits, briefcase, designer shoes. I offered her a blouse.
Her mouth quivered and curled. I gave her a skirt. Her body shook. I gave her my briefcase, complete with Filofax. She sobbed. Words exploded from her mouth.
“I don’t want to look like you. I’ll look like such a slob.” She wanted to look like “the Queen of the World;” she had he own idea of dressing for success. She ran to her box of dress-up clothes and pulled out remnants of her cousin’s first dance recital. She wanted tutus, sequins and pink feathers. I crumpled to the floor.
My closet is emptier today; Hannah’s box overflows with my sister’s prom gown. I need new credentials.