Looking Like a Movie Mom Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be

(Originally posted on Training Wheels for Central Penn Parent.)

I was working in our church nursery on a recent Sunday when a 13-year-old kid who was there to help did anything but.

“You know who you look like?” he said, his eyes focusing on me intently for a moment, as if he was confirming his suspicion.

“Uh, who?” I asked nervously, suddenly feeling 13 myself.

“Have you ever seen the movie ‘Home Alone’?” he asked.

“Yeah, of course,” I said nonchalantly, searching my brain for whether Kate Beckinsale or Natalie Portman or some equally fetching twentysomething might have been featured in that movie. The only people I could recall were Macaulay Culkin and Joe Pesci. Please don’t say I look like Joe Pesci, I thought.

“You look like Kevin’s mom,” he said, and in that moment two thoughts came rushing at me in quick succession:  The first was the full-on realization that I now, at least to anyone younger than 30, look like a mom. That’s it. People who are too young to drink legally no longer see Robyn. They don’t see my super-cute shoes (um, if I owned any); they see my diaper bag. They don’t notice my new haircut; they notice my son holding a lock of it like a security blanket. In short, they no longer see me:  They see mom.

The second thought came fast and furious and played like a loop in my head until after church was done and I could look it up: Who was Kevin’s mom? Who was Kevin’s mom? WHO WAS KEVIN’S MOM?!  Clutching every ounce of self-esteem I had left, I let my husband gleefully and curiously queue up IMDB.com on his phone while I sat next to him, hoping Kevin’s mom was either young and pretty or looked absolutely nothing like me.

Turns out perhaps a little of both was true, as Kevin’s mom was played by Catherine O’Hara, a red-haired, blue-eyed actress who really sort of looked like ... a mom. Perfectly mom-like, in typical mom clothes and a reasonably stylish mom hairdo, not to mention a very mom-like way of speaking. In all the photos and video clips I saw of her from the movie she was sort of wild-eyed and shifty, most likely from the guilt and manic fear associated with leaving the country and forgetting to pack your son.

While I lamented the fact that such a nondescript mom figure is someone I am now and forever will be compared to, I did the math and realized something: Catherine O’Hara was born in 1954, which means she was 36 when “Home Alone” came out in 1990, which means she was two years younger than I am right now. This probably should have struck me as a win, because it meant the 13-year-old thought I looked like someone who was actually a bit younger than I am.

But it didn’t feel like a win. It felt like yet another confirmation that I’m old, and getting older, and won’t ever be young again. Young is done. I mean of course age is relative, but let’s be honest, I’m way closer to 40 than 30, and 20 is nothing but a hazy memory. (Not that I’d go back to being 20, but it sure would be nice to look 20. Or even 30, for that matter.)

I have nothing against Catherine O’Hara; she’s really quite lovely and from what I can tell a talented actress with a solid career. The problem isn’t with O’Hara, it’s with me becoming more comfortable in my skin as I age and mature and redefine a life that is at the moment largely centered around my sons. None of that is bad, necessarily, but it takes time to process and fully welcome (with open, mom-like arms).

So when it’s pointed out by a pubescent boy with a Bieber haircut, it’s a little bit hard to swallow.


Heather said...

Something similar happened to me yesterday, I wasn't compared to an actress I was compared to a mom of a tween. This young lady at Lowes asked me I knew an Allison England, I said "no, we just moved here" and she said "oh, she is my friend and you look like her mom".

I sat there thinking look like her mom, which means I look like the mom of a tween, which in reality means I officially look like a mom. I never really thought of me as looking like a mom, I just was a mom.

All this means I probably look my age, and I was so hoping I would be like my mom and always be questioned about my age and looking younger......

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