Making Up.

The summer I was twelve, my mother bought me my first makeup. A four-pannier of eyeshadow from Maybelline, there were two pinks and two blues. (It was 1986.) There was also a tube of lip gloss that looked just like pink lipstick, only there was no colour, it just added a bit of shine. I can still remember how it tasted and smelled, the plasticky texture gliding over my lips. To this day I am not very good about lip products. Most of them just feel strange.

I will never really know what prompted my mother to give me these things. Was it kindness, seeing her geeky daughter and knowing she’d be slaughtered in high school, seeking to give her some protective camoflage? Was she genuinely excited about my emerging adolescence? I don’t know. And why did she buy me makeup without my knowledge or being there? It seems kind of clandestine, to simply bring home some war paint and give it to me.

For the record, I was delighted. I never did much with the blue eyeshadow, but experimented much with the pink. At first, I was hesitant, and would glide a mere whisper over my eyelids. In time, studying beauty magazines, I figured out where to place the stuff for maximum effectiveness. Of course, putting pink above one’s eyes makes one look like there’s been a long-term crying jag in the works. But, still. I played.

It was one of the last kind things my mother did for me before she woke up that day and couldn’t move her arm. A slipped disk. Which turned into degenerative spine disease and arthritis and all kinds of other things. Which shaped my adolescence and twenties.

But I think of that makeup sometimes. I like to think that she was excited for her daughter, on the brink of adolescence, and wanted to give me a taste of being grown up.Wanted to share something of what it meant to her to be a woman.

4 Comments to “Making Up.”

  1. By Pomodoro, June 24, 2006 @ 11:30 am

    I think that your experience is the absolute model to show how your attitude and treatment of your self can so affect your children. I really liked Kitty but it seems that she made a decision to not deal with a shitty life experience very well. Jonathan as you know had two disk problems two years back, a slip and bulging disk, very painful and completely debilitating. A very active man suddenly immobile, I think that our relationship progressed because of the way he chose to deal with it, and it was a choice. In the beginning he was very angry and depressive and could have easily stayed that way and never would have recovered properly, in the end his decision was to use the anger and I think our relationship as motivation, he made the choice that this was not going to decrease his capacity to live and I don’t think that Kitty ever fully made that decision.
    You lost a mom when you were twelve and the again many years later, not many people have to lose the same parent twice, and the really sad thing is that there are a lot of disabled moms out there who maintain close and genuine mother- daughter relationships despite physical and emotional trauma, so you really got gypped.
    This is what we can do to be good parents though, it is so simple. Take care of your self.

  2. By Beth, June 24, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

    Betsy Wetsy
    September 5th, my ninth birthday, A dollar from Uncle Glen, A dollar from Mrs. Noble, Two dollars from Uncle Ed.
    She was in the Eaton’s catalogue, Betsy Wetsy, “She drinks and wets, Complete with layette, Only $3.98.”
    Mom let me phone and order myself, C. O. D. I came home from school a couple days later, The box, on the chair beside the front door,Two pennies on the lid.{Life was simpler then, no tax, no delivery charge, $3.98 really meant $3.98}
    A doll, an undershirt, two diapers, a bottle.All mine. But that’s not the important part.
    Christmas morning. The fruition of afternoons Mom spent next door. Mrs. Druce had a sewing machine. A sheer pale pink nylon dress, Pink satin slip visible,Covered in dark pink rosebuds. The delicacy of it, Soft, shimmering, whispering over my fingers. Royal blue corduroy coat, With the tiniest blue buttons. And a tam-o-shanter to match. All perfectly fitted to Betsy.
    Two years later Mom was gone. I have no idea when Betsy and her wardrobe disappeared.
    Casual conversation round the lunch room recently, “What one thing would you like back from your childhood?” Immediately I thought of Betsy’s soft pink dress and royal blue coat. I wish I had them again, a reminder of her. Silly wish really. A waste. I wish I had the seamstress.

  3. By Beth, June 24, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

    Oh nuts, it didn’t read the line breaks. Read that as a poem please.

  4. By Liz, June 24, 2006 @ 8:51 pm

    Pomo, everyone liked my mother. She put a lot of effort into forming and maintaining relationships with just about every one of my friends, particularly the scouts.

    Part of the void between us was my doing. Because she wasn’t physically able to do some of the stuff she wanted (Although Scott has often pointed out it was the stuff she didn’t want to do that fell by the wayside), she did try to live through me. And the only way I could survive that was to have a very, very private personal life, and a habit of keeping my opinions and ideas to myself.

    So she’d push a little more and I’d close up a little more, on and on.

    Beth, that still scans like a poem. I’d love to have the images in my head of the dress and coat. They sould beautiful.

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