My definition of fancy is closer to what men call swagger. It’s that inner spark that lets little girls dream big and set lofty goals and gives that “I am woman!” twinkle in the eye. You know the look. The one that you see in the eyes of a girl who shows the world she knows her worth and value, and she’ll be damned before she takes anyone’s shit or their attempts to bring her down. That is what fancy means to me. When I was young, I had fancy in spades. I may have even had a little too much fancy to be honest.
I, being older than my years, eschewed the belly baring teen queens of pop and gave a nod of respect in the slayer’s direction, but they weren’t really fancy in my opinion. I was enthralled with the women of The West Wing. C.J. Craig, Donna Moss, Abbey Bartlett, Amy Gardner, Ainsley Hayes…those women were the epitome of fancy. They were smart, funny, powerful women leading BIG important lives and ran with the big boys in the most powerful political playground in our country. These women were my idols and represented everything I wanted out of life.
Due to these aspirations I never planned on getting married let alone meeting the man who would become my husband when I was 19 years old. But he knew the score and was supportive of my plans of law school and moving to the East coast to pursue this imaginary ideal. Unfortunately Aaron Sorkin did not write the script for my life. But I rode out the hiccups in my plans that life has a way of throwing at you. I got married my junior year of college but suddenly was faced with transferring schools when my new husband got his only post college job offer back in my home city. I laughed at the absurd
life events that made me withdraw from school right before the semester started and came with hospital bills needing to be paid, not once but twice. These were all bumps I could overcome and just added character, as my dad would say.
Then one day there was a stick that had a second pink line. A second line that was never in the plans and wasn’t ever supposed to be there. There was no room for kids in the BIG fancy life I was supposed to have. I started losing more of my dreams in little ways after that. Converting my studio/office into the new guest room because the old one was now
a nursery and god forbid we didn’t have a place for the new grandparents to stay when they came to visit. I stopped working to become a stay at home mom rather than pay the highway robbery prices that passed for daycare tuition. And the piece de resistance was getting pregnant a second time on a one shot whim fueled by a weak moment of easy baby adoration insanity. I gave my son a sister when he was only 19 months old (I’ll give a second to do the math on that one, go ahead, I’ll wait). Don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with being a mom. I was lucky to find my tribe through the LLL forums and was virtually surrounded by likeminded women who helped me find my groove as a parent, even if I’ve never met most of them in real life. It was hard, but more times than not I was happy with my lot in life.
More bumps in the road made it necessary for me to start earning an income again. Due to my commitments at home and my husband’s work schedule, I could only work evenings and weekends. I ended up a minimum wage cashier at a big box store surrounded by coworkers still in high school or barely starting college. At first I enjoyed getting out of the house and not being touched all the time and talking to adults. But the age gap was blaringly obvious and I felt foolish for needing to be there at all. Then one night I was playing my part and being arm candy for my husband at his company holiday party. I ran into a girl I went to high school with who was working her way up through the same company. It all hit home how far away I was from where she was and I was embarrassed. I was a 28 year old college dropout earning minimum wage at a throw away job and spent most of my day fulfilling the barefoot and pregnant/breastfeeding/cooking/cleaning stereotype. I had put my all into being a wife and mother and lost so much of the girl that I was. I know that it is part of growing up, to let go of childish dreams, but I also let go of my spark. There I was standing in a beautiful black satin tea length halter neck gown, sassy red lipstick, and awesome peep toes with a 3.5” heels, and yet my fancy was nowhere in sight.
The path to reclaiming my fancy started small. I began looking into careers that would satisfy my drive to impact change yet coincide with my new love affair of being a mother. I reevaluated what I needed in order to feel accomplished and proud of myself. A lot of it boiled down to my promise to myself when I was 12 or 13 years old that I would graduate from college. Even then I feared being forced to work a minimum wage job into my 30’s and 40’s struggling to make ends meet because my lack of degree slammed doors in my face. I needed to make good on that promise to myself and show that I could do it and back up all my big plans I happily spouted off in my high school years. After a lot of searching, of both the soul and internet variety, I found a program that would let me pursue a degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English. I found a school that worked with my family dynamics and schedule and let me graduate in a reasonable amount of time. I rediscovered that pride in myself when I maintained a 4.0 for the last 4 semesters. I found a way to balance the girl who always had big dreams with the woman who sometimes struggled to get dinner on the table without the help of a drive through.
that in for a simpler and maybe smaller life. However, I am finding a
way to combine being true to my needs while still meeting the needs of my family. It’s not a BIG thing to do what I’m doing. No one will
ever hear about me in newspaper headlines and I’ll probably never rub elbows with the movers and shakers of the world. It’s rare for a
future high school teacher and stay at home mom to be viewed as being important outside her small realm of influence. And I’m ok
The good part of being a young bride and mother is that I will
have decades to pursue bigger dreams when my children don’t need so much of my time. What once looked like the demise of all I wanted out of my life is now just another adventure I took along the way. I’m a little over a year away from graduating school. And when I do, I plan on wearing those same peep toe shoes and maybe even some sassy red lips to finally get my diploma, except this time the fancy the world can see on the outside will match the fancy that I’ve
reclaimed on the inside.
*Fancy Pants is a community writing project. Moms sharing their journey to bringing together the mama and the woman. Without guilt. Without judgment. Finding a way to care for ourselves and our families. It aint easy.*
To be a part of this project, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org