Diana took one last look in the mirror before heading downstairs. Grown up clothes, make up, jewelry, even a spray of her very best perfume. She couldn't look or feel more unlike her normal self if she tried. Casting a longing look at her comfy jeans and sweatshirt she took a deep breath and put the smile on her face she knew was expected and went to give last minute instructions to the babysitter.
"Oh, Mommy! You look so pretty! Like a princess!", Taylor beamed at her mother.
"She is a princess, she is my princess." Jason gave her his best smile and held his hands out to her. Diana and Jason did a small twirl around the living room to the delight of their two little girls.
"You are like Beauty and the Beast! Mommy is Belle and Daddy is the Beast!" Faith squealed as Jason started to chase her around...
"The Beast?? How about Prince Charming? Grrr.....I'll show you Beast!"
Diana watched her girls and their father with a genuine smile on her face. Why couldn't they just stay home and do this all night? Why did they have to leave and go to the party at all? But she knew better than to suggest it. The party was important to Jason. And if it was important to him, it was important to her.
"Jill, the girls can stay up until 9 tonight. But only if they are behaving themselves. If they give you any grief you can send them to bed as soon as we leave. They are hoping that you will want to watch The Little Mermaid with them and Taylor would like to show you she can make the popcorn herself. "
Diana rattled off the instructions to Jill on bedtimes, bath times, stories, emergency contact numbers, even though Jill had been the go to baby sitter for the girls for the past two years. They always had fun together and Diana was grateful that they had one more year with Jill before she left for college. But going over all of the instructions made her feel better about leaving while at the same time gave her a few more minutes before she had to go.
"Be good, girls, we will see you in the morning."
Jason and Diana doled out kisses and hugs and headed off for their party.
As they settled in to the car for the drive to the restaurant, Jason turned to Diana, "You really do look lovely. You still take my breath away." Diana smiled and felt the blush creep up her neck. Jason was so sincere in his love for her and the girls. She knew she was lucky. She really did appreciate everything about their lives together and the choices they had made as a family. But that wasn't going to help her the first time someone asked, "And what do you do?" The "stay at home mother" answer was always a conversation stopper.
She had tried to jazz it up over the years but the witty domestic goddess type replies weren't for her. She knew there was no such thing as "just a mom" but it didn't help her feel any less self conscious when Sophia one of the other attorneys in Jason's office said it. "Oh, and this is Diana, she is a stay at home mom. Can you imagine how wonderful that must be? To not have to go to work everyday? To be able to be just a mom?" Jason didn't understand why this had upset her. After all she was a stay at home mom.
They decided when Taylor was born that she would stay home until the girls were both in school full time then they could re-evaluate. Both she and Jason had been latch key children and they wanted something different for their girls. They could afford to live on just Jason's salary and Diana had wanted nothing more than to be a wife and mother for as long as she could remember. It wasn't a popular choice and only her closest friends knew it, everyone else thought she was going to miss coming to work everyday. Her boss had even told her that she would hold her position for 6 months, long enough for her to grow bored with baby talk and be ready to come back to the office.
But Diana had never grown bored with baby talk. She was in her element. She loved everything about staying home with Taylor and when Faith arrived on the scene just over a year later she loved that as well. Taylor had been a peaceful child, easy going, calm. Faith was not. She was their wild child from the very beginning. And Diana loved having them both. The challenge of finding things that would hold the interest of calm, reserved and oh so grown up at 5 1/2 Taylor and the wild whirling dervish 4 year old Faith. And she was good at it. The girls were happy and healthy and well behaved. The house was clean. The meals were healthy. She and Jason had a good, strong marriage and still genuinely loved each other.
Jason looked over at her, "What are you thinking about? You look so serious."
Diana smiled, "I was just giving myself the Stuart Smalley you are good enough pep talk."
"You'll be fine. Just be yourself. If Sophia thinks you are 'just a mom' tell her you are designing a whole line of Hallmark Cards for 'just a mom' and maybe she should consider getting one for her mother this year."
Diana laughed, Jason always had the cutting line at the ready, she always thought of it later at home. Another thing that bothered her about these events. If only she was as witty here as she was later when she had time to think.
As they walked in to the restaurant they were met by Mr. Aldeen, one of the senior partners, "Oh, Diana, I am so glad you are here. Mrs. Aldeen and I were just talking about you. We are expecting our first grandchild this year and our daughter is hoping to be able to stay home with her. Would you mind terribly if we gave her your number so she could talk to you about what to expect? Of course you and Jason will sit with us tonight so we can talk about babies all night with someone who understands how excited we are." As Diana turned to smile at Jason she couldn't help but notice the look on "just a mom" Sophia's face. It might not be a bad night after all....