Clinging On For Dear Youth

michelle horton

early mama

We were driving down to New York City a couple weeks ago for a (post-holiday) holiday train show, and I looked down at my lap — down at the faux-fur snood and pink-and-gold polkadot clutch.

And they made me so happy.

"I'm really embracing my girly-ness lately," I said to my husband, who glanced over at me and smiled.

"That's good, babe. I like it," he said — probably thinking that I've always been pretty girly. Like back when I'd creep into his driveway in the middle of the night wearing tiny pink shorts and an Abercrombie tee, with Victoria's Secret perfume masking the restaurant smell that stuck to my 17-year-old skin after a long waitressing shift, where everyone called me "Britney" because of my unapologetic (girly) girl crush on Britney Spears.

But it felt different from that juvenile girly stuff.

Over the past couple years, I've started wearing more heels, more dresses, more makeup, more polka dots. My hair keeps getting longer and longer — to the point where I only trim it when it gets unmanageable. To the point where it feels like I'm clinging to something that's slowly backing away. And I think that something is my youth. 

I've spent so long — quite possibly my entire life — wanting to be older. Being "young" defined so much of my identity — from friendships to romances to, now, motherhood. Always the young one.

And I know there are a lot of young women on here who know what I mean. You're tired of feeling judged about looking so young — tired of the comments and the looks and the "well maybe if I start shopping at Ann Taylor LOFT they'll all respect me"s. But damn, you guys. One day it just happens, and I can't pinpoint when.

My best friend and I have different last names from the ones we'd scribble in our 5th-grade notebooks. My little sister and I drive around with our sons in the back seat. I straddle my husband's lap on the couch, the same way I did 9 years ago in my pink shorts and Abercrombie tee — except I'm wearing his sweat pants now, and I smell like Aden and Anais lotion instead of Victoria's Secret perfume, and it's our son in the next room instead of his roommate.

WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN.

Piggybacking on our last guest post about looking back on young motherhood from the perspective of 30, I feel like I've stepped over a threshold of "young" and "not as young." Of course I'm only 26, and I can absolutely still dress youthful and have long hair and wear head-to-toe polkadots, but I can see the end in sight.

I don't cut my hair because I can see a time when, one day, I'll look better with shorter hair. I haven't dyed my hair in years — even as the strands of grey quickly multiply — because I can see a time when I'll be booking monthly hair appointments. I play around with makeup and dress up on weekdays because — why not? Why not enjoy my youthfulness?

Why not enjoy it?

Enjoy it.