I got a manicure. And a pedicure. And a very expensive, much shorter haircut. I tried on every dress in my closet. Not that there are many, but I modeled each one. With different bras. With different shoes. With different Spanx.

Am I headed to the Met Costume Gala? Nope. That already happened. Without me. Do I have a date? Please. That’s another essay. None of the above. The event? My youngest graduates from college this weekend.

I sat in the relatively new, subterranean Amenity nail salon in downtown Westport, staring at small, square, white-grouted tiles of what looked like alternating pieces of crumpled gold and silver aluminum foil under glass, while gusts of forced air dried all twenty nails. And wondered why college graduation merited this level of vanity. I rarely get a mani/pedi (see my essay on Sun Reflexology). I just find it hard to justify the time and cost. I swore there was nothing anyone could do to my hair that would be worth what I paid. And none of the seemingly endless combinations of footwear and support garments seemed to make much of a difference.

And, most importantly, since I will not walk across the stage, will not receive a diploma, and will only appear a few photos from the knees up, who cares how I look? No one will see my toes. Why does my hair matter? And who will even notice the bra/Spanx/shoes under the dress that no one notices?

The weekend is about him. ALL about him. ONLY about him. His dad and I might have created and supported him, and his brothers and stepmom may have provided advice and encouragement, but he earned the diploma that he will receive on Mother’s Day. He did all the work, and gets all the literal and figurative credit.

I don’t want anybody focusing on, or even noticing me, really. So, then, why all the fuss? I realized that it’s more about wanting to feel good – to feel festive – about the weekend and feting him – thank looking good. About wanting to be just a little more clipped, coifed, and clothed than usual. To rise to the occasion of his big occasion. To have the outside match the level of excitement and pride that I feel for him inside. To be my best self for his best self.

So while my toes may remain hidden all weekend, I’ll wear my heart on all my dress sleeves.


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