Keeping up appearances

The chaos that is my morning routine is covered with foundation and smeared with lipstick. Mascara hides the tiredness that full time work and full time family would otherwise reveal.
Back straight, heels clicking, hair smoothed back, I walk with a confidence I am not currently feeling. A confidence brought down by a bunch of disruptive, disrespectful, challenging year nines. My boundaries have been pushed and prodded. I feel bruised and a little broken. Although I encounter the occasional teacher willing to offer their help, the support that I need is not consistent or forthcoming.
Every day I paint my mask and start the day. Every night I return, mask slightly askew.
I suppose it is good to be taken from my comfort zone, not that I know where that is anymore! I suppose it lays with my family, my children, the place where no mask is needed.
My girl was chatting to me the other day as we were looking at her trinkets. She looked into the mirror and then looked away.
“I don’t like looking in the mirror Mum” she said. I asked her why, and she said, “I don’t like my freckles”.
At six she is already conscious of her appearance and what she considers to be unattractive about herself. This makes me incredibly sad. Of course I assured her that her freckles make her beautiful, that they are kisses from the sun, that she is lucky to have so many. I don’t think she is convinced, as I see her wincing when I play back video of her, or try to take her photo.
Is it because of my own vanity that she is unhappy with her own looks. I try to protect her from any negative thoughts I have of myself, careful not to weigh myself in front of her and rarely applying makeup with her around. But still where else would she get these thoughts from?
In general she is not unhappy, she is confident and outgoing, yet in a world where image dominates, she has found what she considers flaws in her own.
Perhaps she will be different. Perhaps she will not allow image to dominate. She will stand tall and be who she is, without a mask, without the heels.
As for me, I don’t think I can be so brave. I will continue to wear my mask, strike the pose, pretend to be confident, unflappable.
I will continue to keep up appearances.


5 thoughts on “Keeping up appearances

  1. His Paramount Excellence

    Plummeting is what we never call falling
    Until the ground seems so undesirably near.
    Calamity is what we always call the uninvited
    Until our senses sweep away that we fear.
    Turning is the corner that we cannot see
    Yet it is a place around which all will be bright.
    Tracing is the line we make in life
    To navigate our way from strife to light.


    • I will continue to turn and trace my way back to that unseen light.

      • His Paramount Excellence

        Masks keep forming to shape one’s stature
        To reveal the benign is to go to sleep on one’s own shoulder
        They take us away from where we do not sit easy
        Masks curl us around their little finger
        And play with our temperament
        For to them we are but children

      • A child’s mask is transparent,
        age and experience force the frost to thicken, until it is impossible to wipe clean.

      • His Paramount Excellence

        True it is that clean skin is something we encounter
        At birth and at the other end of our life
        We come from a seed and return to the ground again.
        What makes ice melt is warmth
        The weather of the ages is variable
        High and low pressure cells
        Cells can be breached or contain us
        Life measures itself mysteriously though
        And sings at us with gusto when we are fallen flat.

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