She was the kind of mom I think my daughter wish had adopted her. I couldn't help but feel a slight pang in my side watching this reality pass before me in strappy, gliding, high heels. This woman didn't walk, she moved effortlessly across the parking lot. Me on the other hand, I was lucky if I had a chance to put on socks each day to hide the fact that when I didn't my big toe poked out of the holes in my worn down, sensible tennis shoes.
She seemed light as a feather, although she wasn't necessarily thin, rather she was proportioned. Over her shoulder was slung an over sized , yellowish-gold bag that matched the neutral hues of brown in her business pant suit. Her dark bronze skin seemed as though it had soaked up the winter sun and locked it up causing her to glow from the inside out. She wore her shiny, ebony hair straight and shoulder length, all together flawless.
A ten year oldish boy lagged slightly behind her, concentrating more on his to go order and drink. I imagined she had just gotten off work, probably some high power job, maybe in a law office. Certainly she wasn't a social worker or some other kind of job that required a softer person. She was sharp and focused, unmoved by the world around her, keys in hand she pushed the alarm off button to her car without even fumbling or looking down.
I found myself instantly turning to my little brown daughter next to me in the passenger seat of our car. Some very small insecure button had been pushed deep within me, catching a glimpse of this beautiful African American women. I knew that if my daughter saw her she would stare, maybe even point, as she had been known to do when she saw another person her shade of mocha. She would most likely make some comment like "Mom how come you don't dress like that?" or "Look she is brown and her kid is brown too, I wish I had a brown mom". I would smile and find the appropriate things to say in these moments, pulling the good ol' standbys out of my box of tricks. Mostly I just told her that our family was special and that I was happy we didn't "look" like everyone else.
I tried not to let these moments burrow into my soul, but they did. I could never be "black" I would never need to dress so elegantly and I could never walk that way and accessorise myself to perfection like her. I wouldn't even want to. I have other things that are important to me like dreams of my farm and how to plant my garden. As much as I tried to convince myself that it was okay that I had broken nails and holes in my shoes, that I wasn't less of a person for not wearing make up to blend in my freckles, I still felt a wash of sadness, in that I could never be that for my daughter. As I glanced over to my 7 year old girl, hoping she hadn't seen this particular mom pass in front of us, she would most likely would wish was me, I realized she wasn't paying attention at all to the world around her. She was too busy looking in the car visor mirror at herself, fluffing her hair and applying lip gloss, and watching herself make pretty faces back at her own reflection. A quick rush of relief filled me and the world felt right again. I was who I was and she is who she is.