Monday, July 13, 2015

The Unseeable Housewife

"Do you still find me desirable?" I silently ask my husband as he looks past me in the bathroom mirror to adjust his collar. "Do you even see me anymore?"
     Five years of marriage, twenty pounds, and one child later, I can't seem to relate to the college blonde appearing on my Timehop status.

She resembles me, but her smile is lighter, her forehead smoother, and her chin still singular. She has the glossy eyes of a fulfilling night of tequila and dancing, and her hair is disheveled yet somehow fantastic.
     I remember this night. Yes, somewhere in a dusty catalog of memories, I remember it all. I'm standing outside a bar as a group of cocky guys walks by.
     "Girl, you phat. P-h-a-t."
     "What does phat mean?" I whisper to my friend with substantially more street cred than myself.      

     "Pretty hot and tempting," she laughs, and I feel my ego swell as I stand a bit straighter. One ridiculous, off-colored acronym, and yet I feel validated.
     When did I become this different version of phat---perspiring, hormonal and tired? When did I stop getting stares as I lingered at the bar? Now, the only time my ass gets checked out is when there are Cheerios stuck to it.
     I know that motherhood changes things. I accept that. I should no longer need the whistles and catcalls. My three-year-old tells me I'm beautiful as she hugs my neck. Isn't that enough?
     I'm nervously fidgeting with the collar of my new, sexy black dress, and my husband glances over and says, "Stop already, you look fine."  Fine. I roll the word around on my tongue until a sour taste takes over my mouth. Fine. I don't want to look fine.  I want to look pretty. And hot. And tempting. Come on, hubs. Throw your girl an acronym. Even a MILF will suffice. Can't you tell I'm wilting over here? Why is it that you can't see me?
     I know how ridiculous I must sound. My priorities are out of whack, I know. But my truth is this: aging terrifies me, be it graceful or graceless. Even with each passing year of wisdom, I can't seem to unlearn self-centeredness. I desire to be desired. It's my worst kind of craving.
     If one could overdose from hair dye, it would be me. Those endless commercials for wrinkle creams and lip-plumping gloss? Directed at suckers like myself. My bed sheets have taken on a lovely apricot/rust hue thanks to my bottomless supply of all the newest in self-tanning products. I am a walking, talking, over-bleached advertisement for feelings of inadequacy. I measure my self-worth not in the number of hugs my toddler gives me, but in the number staring back at me as I step onto the scale. I've convinced myself that in order to be seen, I must be first-rate---I must be exceptional. 
     A bad case of the stomach bug runs through our household, and I find myself sweating and bent over the toilet, cramps similar to childbirth taking over my insides. At least I'll drop a few lb's, I sardonically think. That tub of cookie dough may be guiltless, after all. I crawl back into bed and curl up in a ball, and the soothing hand of my husband soon finds my wet, ratted hair. He strokes my head and calms me. "I love you," he whispers. My eyes are glossy again, but not like in that TimeHop photo. I realize I'm crying. 
     In my stained sweatpants and a sweaty tee, he finally sees me.  

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