Shifting Perspective

It’s odd how things you hated as a kid are now absolute treasures.

ImageOne day, when my child starts complaining about taking a nap, I swear I’m going to tell him that one day, he’ll wish he could nap. He’ll roll his eyes at me and I’ll do everything I can to refrain from saying “You’ll understand when you’re older.” (I’ll skip that for spankings, though.)

That shift in perspective goes double for gifts. Remember how as a kid, getting clothes for your birthday or Christmas was the worst? I remember unwrapping a gift under the tree one year and seeing the dreaded white cardboard clothes box peek out from a tear in the wrapping paper. I just knew there would be a sweater inside it. No such luck – it was socks. In that moment, I thought any purchase that was normal during back-to-school shopping should be off-limits under the tree.

Fast forward many years. Every December, my husband asks me what I want for Christmas. This year, I was ready with an answer.

Socks.

In my defense, they weren’t just any socks. Not white cotton multi-packs that I got decades ago, no thank you. I wanted Thorlos, the granddaddy of all socks. Thick, soft, with extra padding right where the laces on your hiking boots are tied extra tight. They’re amazing. And all I wanted was another pair of Thorlos for the weekly hiking we were doing that winter. (We live in the desert, where winter is the time to enjoy the outdoors and summer is when we hibernate.)

My husband came through like a champ. He got me not one but two pairs of Thorlos, one extra-thick for winter and one lighter for summer. (The one exception to hibernation is heading up north. I happily trade 2 hours in the car for summertime hiking and 40 degree temperature drops.) On top of that, he got me a few Mario games, which admittedly I would have loved at any age. But the Thorlos are what I’ve used, while Mario has sat lonely on the shelf.

That never would have happened twenty years ago.

Socks aren’t the only gift I got excited about and later questioned. A few years ago, my mother got me a full luggage set for my birthday. She may have been suggesting it was time to stop borrowing hers every time I traveled, but no matter. I was ridiculously excited, especially since the bags were a bright red for easy visibility on a luggage carousel.

It didn’t hit me until that night that I was happy to receive a practical gift. Once upon a time, the only time a good gift was called practical was if it was a practical joke. Not anymore.

Then there was the Mother’s Day gift of maternity clothes (yay! clothes that fit!) and a supportive belly band (yay! pain relief!). Extra practical, extra dose of reality. With an actual child growing inside me, I was solidly, undeniably, an adult. Also, I got excited to unwrap clothes. Yep, things have changed.

Next week, I turn 30. I don’t know which I’m dreading more: officially being out of my 20s or the hey-thanks-awesome-gift-oh-wait-I-like-that? hangover.

Wedding Dresses and Second Graders

I hated Halloween as a kid.

It meant putting on uncomfortable costumes, wearing makeup, and talking to strangers. It was awfully painful for a shy kid whose ideal day was spent hiding in a corner, reading a book. My mom still tells the story of coming home from work during her 15-minute break to get us ready for Halloween, struggling to do my makeup as I argued and cried.

I still hate being the center of attention. But as I found out last week, that seems to be the point of shopping for a wedding dress.

Must there be so many mirrors? What is with the mini pedestal that they have you stand on? You’re standing on a raised platform as it is – the whole dressing room is up there. It’s so awkward when you walk out of a dressing room and see several people’s reactions before you’ve even seen your own reflection. I once again felt like the kid who just wanted to put on oversized clothes and blend into the wall.

“It’s too tight. I’m not comfortable!” That could’ve been me in second grade, hating my costume. But it was me at 28, wriggling in the corset the sales consultant suggested I wear. It ended up on the floor rather than on me. Then came the dresses.

First was a beautiful lace dress, lightly beaded to add a touch of sparkle to the vintage-style gown. I loved how it looked but not that it made my arms itch. I tried to reason with myself that I could tolerate it for an evening. Still, I heard a younger, whinier version of myself: “But Mommy… it’s ITCHY. Do I hafta wear it?”  It made it to the top three, but the itch factor got it voted off the island.

Then there was the dress with the large skirt, stiff crinoline beneath to make it poof. It reminded me of running through the woods as a kid, sticks and bushes scratching my bare shins. The sales consultant said, “You look so uncomfortable.” I was, I told her – both from the crinoline and how much attention I feared the large skirt would draw.

And then an elegant satin gown – a little light beading at the waist but otherwise very simple. I thought it was gorgeous. My mother thought it was boring. “It’s not fancy enough for a wedding.” So? I didn’t want anything flashier – nothing that would attract too much attention. “Sonia, it’s your wedding day. Of course people are going to look at you!”

And suddenly I’m 7, just wanting to get my candy and go home…

The next morning, I told my fiancé how strange it was that shopping for a wedding dress made me feel like such a child. He laughed, probably from imagining what a sight it was to see a grown woman reenacting childhood fussiness. My poor mother probably thought she was long past the days of having to coax her child into wearing something suitable for the occasion. She probably hasn’t dealt with this in at least 15 years. And yet there she was, responding to her oldest child’s vetoes with “Just try it, Sonia. You might like it.” She said it wearily, as if she’s said it a thousand times before. Which, of course, she has.

That evening, when I checked the mail after work, I got my latest Netflix DVD. It was “The Little Mermaid.”

And suddenly I’m 7, excited to watch a princess movie and sing along. Just as long as no one’s listening.
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Photo credit: Patrishe