Role Reversal

I don’t know who thought makeup was a good idea, I don’t care much for him- I’m certain it was a dumb guy named Benedict. I know what you’re thinking, “Trust me, some people desperately need it.” But I’m pretty sure we’ve just conditioned ourselves as a culture to think it’s important. Kind of how each culture has a different concept of beauty. There’s a group in Thailand that likes long necks, not beer, like necks. There’s a tribe in Ethiopia that thinks body scars are super-sexy. America has its own self-imposed standards of beauty. Dang you Benedict.

I spent half a day at Clinique a few years ago learning how to do makeup. I have the patience and attention span of a toddler and inwardly pitched a fit as I was introduced to primers, lipstick, lip gloss, lip liner, foundation, powder, BB cream, blush, bronzer, mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, and of course Clinique’s 3-step face cleansing process- it’s a racket! And concealer was invented by Satan. No wonder some women wake up with the roosters to get started. Surely long necks are easier. But, I figured it out because it mattered.

We’ve also spent some time with several different hair stylists trying to figure out the balance between a cool hairdo (because Tiff gets so hot), and one with some style. Not to mention, one that is easy for me to maintain. A tall order. I suggested a Sinead O’Conner, but it didn’t fly. Tiffanni was a hairstylist for the few years before she was diagnosed with Huntington’s. I remember the day that she graduated from hair school, we took off to Savannah in a convertible for the weekend. I had gotten tickets to a taping of the Paula Dean show because Tiff loves the Food Network and I love convertibles. I was hero for the weekend.

I’ve held out on some big girl stuff for as long as I can. I think that it had something to do with not allowing my daughters to grow up too fast, because you know, girls grow up way too fast. We don’t shave legs, do makeup, have cell phones, have boyfriends- stuff like that. But I finally gave in on makeup. Addyson starts 7th grade this fall and I thought we’d glide into this stuff with some powder and lipstick. Oddly enough, she didn’t need much of a lesson on how to do makeup because she’s been applying it for years. She learned eyeliner, powder, lipstick, blush, mascara, and eyeshadow before she was 10. Addy and Carsyn share the fun with me in doing their mom’s makeup. A break for me and a joy for them, at least when I let them experiment. Not always a great result.

My kids have grown up in some ways that I didn’t anticipate. Tiff and I used to talk about when we would let them have certain privileges, and we always agreed, later is better. I guess we are old-fashioned that way. I can only assume that usually little girls learn to do makeup from having someone do theirs, watching someone put her makeup on, or practicing on themselves- clown cheeks and wobbly lipstick smiles included. But mine received lesson one on their mom.

Carsyn didn’t understand the concept of blush at first. Layering a pink streak from lips to earlobe. But she got it. She’s patient with Tiffanni’s movements and talks gently to her, “Ok momma, open your eyes wide. Here comes the mascara.” Addyson likes hair duty more. It seems like a limitless canvas of artistic expression. I’m waiting for the day when Tiff ends up at church with dreadlocks.

So in a not-so-surprising twist, my little girls are not so little anymore. I’ve protected them from every thing that I can to keep them from prematurely advancing. But I guess Time with her deep red rouge splattered cheekbones, her water proof black mascara, and her beautifully draped and curled blowout beckons my babies onward. There’s no stopping her- not only does she stop for no one, but she expects to be all dolled up in the process.