Saturday 01 Oct 2016

Old-fashioned
Jennifer Flaten

She stood at the end of my driveway, her bleached blond hair twirled up into a ponytail. It was impossible to miss her potbelly hanging over her tattered cut off jeans and the combination midi T-shirt and low-rise shorts allowed you to get good glimpse of her belly button ring.

I know you are thinking, so what? That look is de rigueur for a teenager. I agree, except I am not describing my sons' girlfriend.

I am describing a neighbor, who is a mom. She has a son in my daughter's class, and she is not a young step mom, which might explain the outfit. No, she is roughly my age (and no, I am not telling you what that is).

After we finished our introductions, we stood chatting in the blazing September sun. Midway through the conversation, I nearly embarrassed myself mortally-not that it would be the first or last time.

I mistook one of her eyebrow rings for a bug (hey the sun was reflecting off it) and I nearly reached out to flick it off her face. Luckily, before I made giant ass of myself, she shifted position and disaster avoided.

She spent most of the conversation expounding on her sons many problems. One of which is ADD. It doesn't take a genius to figure out he is hyperactive. He hops frantically from activity to activity and ignores every direction she shouts at him.

Frankly, I admit I missed most of what she was saying because I couldn't take my eyes off her outfit.

I was so busy cataloging her many fashion don'ts and trying to keep a straight face that I totally missed her litany of problems with ADD boy.

I know that makes me sound like a terrible fashion snob, which I am not.

I mean I like fashion, I read fashion magazines and keep an eye on trends but I don't wear many of them. I look average; you know what a mom should look like well-groomed and dressed age appropriate.

Since our first meeting I have encountered this mom at school and around the neighborhood, each outfit has pretty much been as wacky as the first.

I can't even describe the outfit she wore to parent teacher conferences. All I can say is purple hair, in a really high, tight ponytail isn't a good look for anyone.

This has lead me to wonder at what point should you, if ever, sacrifice your need for personal expression via fashion in order to better represent you kids.

We all want to express ourselves with our fashion choices. Although, I think, women feel the pressure to be trendy much more so then men, with the exception of the metrosexuals, they out trend the women.

Aside from a few fashion conscious men, most get a way with a standard look, slacks and a shirt. You can change the brand, style and color but that in a nutshell is what it takes a man to be fashionable.

Women on the other hand spend hundreds of dollars cultivating a "look".

This is fine and dandy until you have kids. When that happens you just have to stop chasing the more ridiculous fashion trends. Sure, you can still follow fashion, but anything too bizarre and you had better skip it.

In my opinion, some of the extreme looks require retirement the minute you have a bun in the oven.

I have seen full Goth moms pushing babies in strollers and the first thing I think is "grow up"

Who can take a mom seriously when she sports black and magenta dreadlocks, Doc Marten boots and tattered black clothes?

Now we all don't have to turn into little Stepford Wives or start dressing like June Cleaver, we can be stylish and individual, just in an age appropriate manner.

As a woman, there comes a certain age (yes, all women, even Madonna) when you simply cannot wear that!

Oh wait; you can wear it, if you want to be the subject of ridicule.

Yes, it is a cold, cruel world out there. Moms are constantly under scrutiny, just for being moms. Someone is always willing to take us to task over something. So with that in mind, why, have it be that your skirt is too short?

Kids want their moms to blend in; no kid wants the other kids to have a reason to notice their moms. No young boy wants to hear that his mom is "hot" and no young girl wants her mom to look more trendy then her.

Okay, I will give a giant exception to women who live in Beverly Hills. Those women have nothing in common with an average woman.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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