Dear Teenage Girl in the Tank Top,
I know I stared while our paths crossed on the bike trail today. I’m sorry. But you’re just so young and perky that I couldn’t help myself. Your hair was in a perfect, high ponytail, your tank top was pristine and pink and your shorts actually matched your tank top. As we rode by you smiled at us. You looked so serene.
I wanted to kick your teeth in.
I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re a really nice girl. But you matched while working out for goodness sakes! Your hair looked like you just got done at the salon! There wasn’t an ounce of fat on you! You were so young! You were ALONE! I just couldn’t help my rage.
I felt so frumpy and old in that moment. In my 2008 Obama t-shirt covered with paint stains and my two-sizes too big sweatpants, I’m sure I looked just peachy. My very cool bike helmet helped too, I’m sure. The fact that I was pulling about 100 lbs. in a bike trailer didn’t help my image either. When I was your age, I never had dinner-plate-size sweat rings under my arms when I worked out either; I swear. That is, apparently, something else that comes with age. Isn’t it wonderful?
After you passed, I got a little melancholy. I know it sounds stupid. It was only two minutes. But I just couldn’t help it. I think back to when I was your age and I just didn’t realize how much things would change. I didn’t soak in the awesomeness that it is being 18 or 19 and rollerblading alone and looking cute. I hope you do. I can’t even remember what I used to do with myself before kids, before becoming a grown-up. When I had a whole Saturday to myself, what did I do? And why, oh why, was I wasting all that time thinking I was fat? I should have been rollerblading in my bikini. Seriously. It’s ridiculous. So I guess you just reminded me of my youth and how I didn’t revel in it. I should have. I hope you do.
After feeling old and frumpy and melancholy for a little while, I got to thinking. When I was your age and rollerblading on the bike trail by myself, I used to see Moms like me, pulling one kid behind them in the trailer, following closely behind another on a bike trainer and another riding all by himself, and smile. Because I wanted that one day. I wanted to be a Mom and go for bike rides with them and my gorgeous husband and enjoy the day. I don’t remember thinking any of the Moms I saw were old or frumpy or needed to spend more time working on their triceps. I just remember thinking they looked happy. And I wanted that.
Guess what? I got it. I have three beautiful kids and a gorgeous husband and we’ve been enjoying bike rides almost every day. I am ridiculously happy in my life. I’ve pretty much gotten everything I’ve ever wanted. Who cares if I’m not as young or as thin or as cute as I used to be? I need to stop berating myself because I’m sure my 50-year-old self will yell at me someday for squandering so much time worrying about the size of my ass, right?
Thank you teenager in the tank top. Thank you for reminding me to get over myself already. Because I’ve got it pretty good.
Frumpy Mom Riding a Bike
P.S. Next time if you could just spill some coffee on your tank top, or have a big hunk of spinach in your teeth, that would just make my day. Thanks.