Jeans

This is wicked girly. I was hesitant to post it to hundreds, knowing this may only ring true with my curvy sisters. Then I remembered you signed up to read a Breast Cancer Blog. And even Stevie, if asked nicely (and promised beer), would hold my purse and hand me a pair of boot cut Levi’s over the door.

Jeans. Finding a good pair of butt-flattering, muffin-taming denims requires many devastating hours in dressing rooms (and a sore neck from all of that head craning to assess the rearview). I’ll insist that women who look fantastic in jeans are the same women who look slim in maxi dresses and athletic in yoga pants. Their jeans aren’t magic: they look great in everything. Buying their brand will only lead to disappointment. These women look good in spite of their jeans. And if you’re like me (and also not Jennifer Aniston), jeans are a squeezing, gapping, bulging garment of frustration. Me, I prefer to twirl around in skirts.

Unfortunately, most of us need a pair of dungarees in rotation. They’re necessary for snowy New England bus stops and for mulch spreading. But my 40ish physique does not appreciate clothing that toothpaste tubes me into unflattering shapes. And because I don’t normally stand around with my arms akimbo, back swayed, and belly sucked, jeans never live up to their fitting room promises. Dear friend Lisa recently lamented The Search for Jeans in a Facebook query that ran 27 comments long, offering a dozen options that could drag her from Walmart to Bloomingdale’s and still result in buyer’s remorse for pants that stretch two sizes after the first deep knee bend to rescue Polly Pockets from the Dyson.

Smarter (slimmer) women might bristle at this pant rant, wondering if all of this stems from unrealistic media pressure on aging women to aspire to the impossible. Which, in my opinion, is this:

Jennifer Aniston provides the gold standard for gluts.

Jennifer Aniston provides the gold standard for gluts.

But honestly, I have no self-loathing body hatred, I just don’t think the Citizens are approaching my midriff with anything resembling Humanity.  And absolutely everything else in my closet is flattering and pretty. (Except my prom dress. Which I’m saving for some future prom-themed party where I’ll win a gigantic wrist corsage as a prize for Most 80s Clichés Assembled in One Gown.) But, like many women, I have a pile of jeans that don’t really fit. I have only one pair of passably comfortable denims, but ultimately they’re going to get splattered with mud, boogers, and vomit, which then requires washing, and then carb-shunning or a well timed stomach flu to wiggle back into them. Reasonable (slimmer) women might wonder if I’m buying the wrong size or yo yo dieting in and out of my trousers. Nope, the difference between jeans that flatter and those that torture all lies within about 3 pounds and run through a hot dryer.

Quite possibly, the real reason jeans disappoint is because I still expect to see my sixteen-year-old ass in the mirror. I do harbor an unfaded, c. 1987 memory of that one perfect pair of Guess jeans that orbited my waistline at the ideal level, that pegged perfectly with little zippers, that sported a teeny triangle on my teeny tiny butt. No amount of overpriced denim can conjure that booty of another era. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who can still pull on jeans without sounding like a Williams sister returning a serve. Not me. Red Sox games, picnics, Gross Anatomy lab, steak-grilling, Costco runs… all these can be attended in a flippy skirt. I have no confidence that darling Lisa (who has a beautiful figure, by the way) will find success in the fitting room. So I will continue to urge her, and all my curvy sisters, to give up the search and twirl with me.

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Busy

Stevie is procrastinating. We do have plans to continue our recent religious debate, but my favorite atheist Jew has a TV program to script, children with activities, homes divided between zip codes, and well… a life. But me, I’m a relic from bygone days: I’m not busy. Today I accidentally locked myself out of the house, and sat for one hour in my bum-warming car enjoying the nothing-to-do-ness– the bald fact that I’m not vitally necessary. There will be no grave repercussions from missing my slow-cooker window. The children will not balk over untidied play spaces. Absolutely nothing hangs on my response to, attendance at, or opinion of anything; and truthfully, any busyness in my life is of my own making. But embracing my universal unimportance with contented calm came slowly.

I used to bristle when people asked me, “What do you do all day?” The never-ending childcare of small boys left me exhausted, oddly lonely, and waiting for a reasonable hour to pour a glass of wine. Anyone who asks a mom (or dad) on Daily Toddler DeathWatch to account for her time deserves the mother lode of snarky retorts. There were many times I squelched an urge to splash sauvignon blanc into the pretend-to-care face of the pant-suited bitch asking this infuriating question. But now, as my small people are bussed away for one third of every weekday, and my participation in the workforce a decade in the past, the question sounds valid. At a recent cocktail party, I was pressed to itemize my paycheck-less activities and realized, that over the years, two approaches to this question have evolved: Descriptive Torture and Boastful Sloth.

Because I used to be a medical sort of person and have science degrees and whatnot, I get, “Will you ever go back to work?” as often as Ben Stein hears, “Bueller?” Vaulted from the reproductive years, liberated from malignant cells, and unburdened by school age children for the greater part of the day, certainly I’ve considered doing something with myself now? Sure have. Lookie what blogging girl hath wrought today: The Unemployed Mommy Algorithm! All paths lead to responses that amuse me… or to cocktails. All good.

“WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY?”

ALGORITHM

I’ll admit Boastful Sloth is more fun than Descriptive Torture. Even if I’m embellishing the mundane to the point of absurdity, the daily doings of stay-at-home-moms have a sort of chloroform effect. But if pressed to defend my day to a mom who works outside of the home (and employs a small team to outsource the mind-numbing labor), it’s only fitting I should trap her into listening to what she’s missing. I’ll bore her with line item descriptions of everything that happened from Teddy’s ill-timed, bus-missing poo, through crockpot recipes and laundry totals, right up to fraction-dividing extra credit math sheets, soccer halftime snack choices, and the great bathing debate (does swimming count?).

Those traveling down another path with this insidious query might inspire my best Boastful Sloth. This approach is more charming after four drinks. I can make days of yoga, pedicures, fancy lunches, garden tours, volunteer do-gooding, and home makeover projects sound super important and delightfully time-consuming. Who has time for a job with a beeper? I’ve got bulbs to plant and a squash lesson at 3. Ooh, and there’s my bringing-home-bacon husband over there! Yes, that devilishly handsome man fetching me another Prosecco. Isn’t he dreamy?

You’ll notice that I’m a little touchy about judge-y comments from other women. But, c’mon sisters, if we’re out of the house without the kids, let’s bond over the irritating idiosyncrasies of the smaller species. Let’s clink glasses, toasting a temporary reprieve from DeathWatch, diapers, wailing, and “Watch, mommy… watch THIS… watch me NOW!” And if you are gainfully employed, I want you to stop wearing pantsuits. I also want to know all about how working works, or doesn’t. It’s the (second) most important discussion in our lives at this moment, and peppering it with biased inquiries dishonors the conversation. (Please share the shitty, loaded questions thrown at you by drunk and/or annoying stay-at-homers!)

I know my activities aren’t essential, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re meaningless. And though my days aren’t demanding, I’ve got important stuff going on… like an international conversation about religion. And, well, also… maybe by summertime, an actual job-ish kind of thing. My cocktail chitchat may soon gain approval of The Busy People! And it’s kind of perfect in that I can work from home (no pantsuits) leaving plenty of time to draft algorithms. I’m going to need a new one.*

*algorithm, not pantsuit