Monday, September 29, 2008

Sexy - Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

"I like your haircut," my mother told me over lunch when she was in town last week, "You know I've always thought you look better with it cut short."

"I like it too, " I agreed, "But I have to say,  I don't feel quite as sexy as when it's long."

"Sexy?" snorted my mom. "At some point you have to get over that."

I was taken aback. "I do? I have to get over the idea of being sexy? When, exactly?"

Mom raised her eyebrows and smiled sympathetically.  It took a while for her meaning to sink in. Hey!

"I am not too old to be sexy, Mom, and neither are you! Feeling sexy is all in your own mind anyway and no matter what anyone else thinks, I am going to maintain my illusion that I am  a sexy woman." My voice was getting shrill, so I took a sip of iced tea to calm down. "I'm a damn hottie." I muttered around my straw.

"Oh, yes you are, dear. You're very sexy - in a nice way." She patted my arm consolingly, speared an asparagus tip from her roasted vegetable salad, and changed the subject. 

Since that lunch, the topic has been irritating me like a prickly tag inside a tight collared shirt. I'm 45 and I accept that things have changed. I'm not attracting wolf whistles from construction workers; no one is lining up to buy me drinks at happy hour. But inside, I'm still operating from the assumption that I am somewhat of a babe. But now my mom has me worried.

Is that little motor running inside of me - the one that makes me smile at my reflection in store windows,  puts an expectant spring in my step,  urges me to text silly things to my husband - is that motor gonna conk out one of these days?  Gosh, maybe I'm already running low on fuel. After all, I cut my hair to my chin - is that a clue that my days of sexy are numbered?

My focus on my haircut is not mere frivolity. According to Dr. Debbie Then, a psychologist who specializes in physical appearance, "there is lots of research to show that men prefer long hair and that it's associated with sexual desirability."  Long hair is alluring to the senses and, according to evolutionary theory, communicates good health and reproductive fitness. 

A few decades ago, women of a certain age cut their hair because long (often graying) hair became too difficult to care for.  Also, the heavy, flat styles of the day were unflattering to a maturing face, emphasizing sags and wrinkles. But today, layered cuts are the norm and with a vast array of hair care color and styling products, a woman over 40 can have the same silky, shiny mane of hair that she had as a teenager. 

Times have changed - all the hot women over 4o in the media have long, flowing, sexy hair now. Just look at Kyra Sedgwick, Holly Hunter and the cast of Desperate Housewives. For that matter, look at Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. But I digress. 

My point is, that whatever the length of your hair, and however old you are, you deserve to keep your inner motor revving. There is no age limit on long hair and there is no age limit on sexy. Vroom, vroom.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mom for Hire

After ten years, I've got this stay-at-home mom thing nailed. My kids just left for school and thanks to an efficiently orchestrated  sports carpool, I won't see either one of them until 6:30 tonight. My husband is working late, so dinner can be something quick and easy from the freezer. My house is clean - my kids actually made their beds and did their dishes. Ah, the whole day stretches endlessly before me. I can exercise, I can read, I can have lunch with a friend, I can organize my photos, I can go to a museum, I can... 

Damn. I can go back to work.

I've always been planning to go back to work, so I don't know why writing that sentence just made my heart race like a Kitchenaid blender. I never expected to stay at home for this long. Before I had two kids, I had a big-time career. I made presentations, I analyzed data, I managed people, I strategized. I can't exactly remember what it was all about, but I was really good at it.

When I quit my job to take care of my two tiny children, it was only temporary. As soon as Liam's job settled down and Nick and Emma were a little older I would be right back to taking the meetings and earning the big bucks. But somehow one year slid into another, and, well here I am. 

I don't regret staying home. In addition to letting me focus on my family, it's given me time to accomplish some things I'm really proud of - getting my Masters degree, volunteering in the community, developing a local TV show, learning to play tennis, singing in a band.  But the fact is, my kids and home are not a full time job anymore. I'm a housewife who's been pink-slipped.

It's time for me to get back out there and look for a way to put my talents to use. It's a scary prospect and I'm not sure how to begin. But I know I'm not the first mom to head back to work. If you've been there and have any advice, please share it.