Mom’s Lipstick

#lipstick #parenting #COSMETICS

Two teen girls strolled along the sidewalk of a very small town in California’s foothills. It was a warm 1941 September afternoon, on the first day of high school.

Look at her. My Mom crossed her arms and pouted. Grace is allowed to wear that bright red lipstick. She doesn’t look like a painted woman. Everyone wears it now. Mom inspected her face in the front window of Ben Franklin’s Five and Dime Store. “Maybe if I purchase a different color.”

“I don’t know.” Grace grimaced. “Your dad probably didn’t mean just the red one. He means any lipstick.”

“He doesn’t understand how awful it is to look like a blank piece of paper! My skin is pale and my green eyes with blonde eyelashes just fade away into nothing.” Mom glanced at Grace and sighed. “You have wonderful dark eyelashes and brown eyes. You’re lucky.”

“Well, I think you’re beautiful the way you are.”

“That’s because you’re my best friend.” Mom turned back to the window and stirred up her resolution. “I worked all summer and saved up my babysitting money. I got some of my clothes from the Thrift Shop, so there’s just enough cash left for one more treat.”

“I don’t know…don’t tell them I was with you.” Grace looked over her shoulder for anyone they knew.

The girls dashed through the door, ignored the tinkling bell above them, and Mom purchased a peach colored lipstick. “It’s not red. I don’t feel as guilty.” Mom applied it and closed her eyes. “It even makes me feel less invisible.”

“It’s a really pretty color on you.” Grace smiled into the mirror over Mom’s shoulder.

“Thank you. I hope I remember to wipe it off before I get home. Daddy might ground me for life.”

The girls exited the store and bumped into a few of their friends. They exclaimed how pretty Mom looked, and every last one of them had on lipstick and eyebrow pencil.

I finally fit in. I feel grown up.

The group waved good-bye to Mom and Grace. As they broke apart, Mom spied her dad watching them from a few feet away.

He stood in his work clothes next to his friend and his truck. His eyes were wide and his jaw dropped, when he recognized Mom. He nodded his head and turned away.

Mom gasped. “Grace, Daddy didn’t say anything.” Mom’s hands shook. “I’m so afraid. Did you see the look on his face?”

“He looked shocked, not mad. It’ll be okay.” Grace patted Mom’s arm. “Don’t worry, just explain how you feel. I’m late, see you tomorrow.”

Easy for her to say. Mom dragged her feet all the way home. Visions of never ending chores played through her thoughts.

Mom’s daddy was waiting for her in the kitchen. “Don’t ever sneak behind my back again. I understand you decided to resort to deception, partly because of my rules. But I also want to apologize to you. When I saw you with that group of girls and every last one of them had on lipstick, I realized how you must feel left out. From now on, you are allowed to wear your lipstick. If there’s anything else, please talk to me first.”

Sometimes, parents can have epiphanies.

Mom’s daddy offered to send her to cosmetology school after she graduated. Mom didn’t attend, and regrets it, but she did achieve becoming the cosmetic counter manager at the town’s only pharmacy. She worked there for thirty-eight years. Mom is eighty-nine and still applies her cosmetics every day using her silver magnifying mirror.

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