I am about to turn 40, why skirt the issue?

Forty years ago, my mom kissed my dad at the stroke of midnight on new year’s eve, then they both looked down at her pregnant belly and smiled at what 1974 would bring them: me.

I turn the big four-oh this year and my state of mind can be summed up with a story about a skirt.

When I was 27, on a whim I bought a skirt at Clapham Junction station in London.

It was an eclectic little store that sold all kinds of items, not just clothing.

Among the pens and playing cards adorned with cartoon graphics hung an ethereal white skirt with a scalloped trim and large colourful flowers printed on it.

A rose-coloured flower was pinned at the top of a short and ruffled slit up the knee. Even before I tried it on, I knew it would fit beautifully.

I bought it on the spot.

I wore my new skirt to fancy dinners out in London — my favourite evening pastime in those days.

My long, naturally curly hair bounced in unison with the skirt’s trim as I walked to the underground station to catch a train into central London where I would meet friends at a posh restaurant.

We would laugh together while eating a delicious three-course meal served with expensive wine.

Those were carefree times.

Not long after I turned 30. I got married, bought a house, got a dog.

Then I had a kid, then another, and another.

Real life took a firm grip on that carefree lifestyle and hasn’t yet let go.

My shopping habits are no different: I still shop on a whim in stores that sell more than clothing. Now I buy t-shirts and pants with elasticated waistbands at the same store I buy my toilet roll.

My body has undergone a major shift in these past 10 years.

Hormones took control of my natural curls and wiped them straight. There haven’t been many opportunities to wear my pretty skirt, but even if there had, my hips have grown as wide as my family has grown in size; it no longer fits.

I live in denial of this. I won’t give the skirt away.

Without fail, each time we are invited to a dressy occasion, I fish it out and try it on.

It becomes apparent quickly the skirt will not sit comfortably at my waist as it once did. I put it back on the hanger to try again another day.

I feel no sadness. I accept the skirt doesn’t fit now, but I believe it will one day. I am not prepared to admit it will never fit again because that means admitting carefree me is also gone for good.

I have survived these past 10 years holding on to the possibility that carefree me is just over the baby-rearing hill.

If we can just get through the kids waking us up in the middle of the night, or when all the kids are in school, or when we’re able to earn more money, we’ll get the good times back, only this time we’ll have our three favourite little people in tow.

The truth is even if that skirt did fit, I’ve moved on from the life it represented. That life didn’t offer me the purpose and connections I needed, or I’d still be living in London, earning big bucks, and going out for fancy meals.

And while I mourn the loss of my gorgeous curls and my athletic physique, on the eve of this fifth decade, it’s time to start shopping for a new skirt.

Maeve Maguire is a technical writer who lives and works in Maple Bay and writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial. Visit her blog www.cowichandale.com, or email her at maeve@describewriting.com.

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