Most mornings I awake to my two sons and some sort of mayhem. It could include, but is not limited to, someone’s extreme hunger; children eating sugary contraband after sneaking downstairs unattended; a lost doll; a lost password for a computer game that is expressly forbidden until at least 7 a.m.; a lost T.V. remote control; someone’s dire thirst; or death by morning breath as one of my children spit-whispers directly into my face “Mommy? Are you awake?”
As part of the morning routine, I make six meals (three breakfasts and three lunches). I do my makeup in a small decorative mirror that hangs above our wet bar, which also allows me to keep an eye on the kids as they eat their breakfasts and watch cartoons. I get them dressed. Three sets of teeth brushed. I do their hair. I load their backpacks. I load my bags. Then I can get dressed. Then, sometimes, I have time to do my own hair. All of this in an hour and a half.
On Wednesday I was upstairs. Hair in hot rollers. In only my bra and panties. The boys were ready for school, waiting for me on the couch and watching the rest of the latest episode of Pokemon.
“I see ballerinas!,” I heard C.J. say downstairs in the living room.
“I SEE BUNS!,” I heard C.J. exclaim. Then came laughter. I continued to hunt for something to wear. Hot rollers burning my ears.
“I SEE BOOBS!” Uproarious laughter.
I ran down the stairs. C.J. and his brother were pointing and giggling at the T.V. I rounded the corner to find them watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which I had recorded the night before.
“All right, settle down,” I said hunting for the remote control. Throwing decorative pillows to and fro.
“I see YOUR boobs and buns, Mommy!,” C.J. declared. Now both boys were pointing and laughing at me.
“Where’s the remote?,” I asked.
C.J.’s Brother handed it to me and informed me that he turned on the fashion show because he and C.J. wanted to watch it. I started to change the channel and C.J. started to cry. I started to think that my hot rollers had been in way too long and I would now look like more like Little Orphan Annie and less like Sofia Vergara. Great.
“Mommy, pwease don’t change it. Pwease, pwease, pwease,” C.J. pleaded. “I love dare costumes. I love dos angels. I love da wings.” Of course my sweet, creative gender nonconforming son would fall in love with pageantry and exhilaration of a an amazing fashion show.
C.J.’s Brother was blushing, shaking his head yes and giving me a glimpse of what a pre-pubescent boy might look like. I took a good look as Miranda Kerr bounced her perky way down the catwalk. I lost focus when I saw Orlando Bloom. He smiled. I smiled.
“You’re in the way! Her shoe came off!,” C.J. yelled, waving me to the side.
The show cut to interviews and quick snippets of past Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows. I looked at the clock. We were going to be late.
“I have to put my clothes on. You have two minutes until we load the car,” I called over my shoulder as I took the stairs two at a time and started to take the rollers out of my hair. I threw on some clothes, put my hair in my standard “Bad Hair Day” style and hoped the curls would fall with time. I raced back down the stairs and herded the kids into the car.
“Can we watch the rest when we get home from school,” C.J.’s Brother asked.
“Yeah, can we Mommy? Can I get one of those underwear costumes for Christmas?,” C.J. asked.
“We’ll see and they don’t sell them in the store,” I answered both boys. I had no intention of letting them watch the rest of the show or getting C.J. an “underwear costume,” but didn’t want to argue at that point.
“C.J., you might be able to order one of those angel costumes online. We can check it out when we get home,” C.J.’s Brother offered.
There were no words. I had no idea what to say. We arrived at school.
“I can’t wait to tell my friends about dos angels. I love dos wings,” C.J. chattered as he skipped to class, holding my hand. I said nothing.
That was the day that my little boy, wearing socks made for a little girl, told his four girlfriends in class about the angels in their underwear and the dress up costumes that they might be able to buy online.
That night, with the boys tucked in their beds, I sat down with a new bag of Pepperidge Farm’s Nantucket cookies to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. C.J. and his brother really would have liked the Super Angels portion of the show; I was tempted to show it to them. The cookies started to not taste as good as I watched the models work the walk. “Yeah, but they are in their twenties and haven’t had kids yet,” I scoffed to myself. Not true anymore. I was lying to myself. They are in thirties, just like me. They are moms, just like me. I closed the bag of cookies. I deleted the show. I went to bed and counted angels until I fell asleep. I’m sure my boys did the same.