“Don’t you forget about me…”

25 Jan

I drove my 16 yr old to school this morning. I don’t usually drive her as we’re close enough for walking, but sometimes she asks and I’ll grab my keys and we get in the car. It’s a few extra minutes with the rapidly-approaching-college age daughter. I’ll take what I can get.

As we drove to the high school, Simple Mind’s “Don’t You Forget About Me” came on, and I was allowed a surreal moment where I was driving to a high school with my high schooler singing a song I sang when I was in high school.

Yeah, it’s one of those weird moments in life. We both sang along to the very last “la la la la” and then she went off into her school.

I thought about the movie for a bit as I drove home via Starbuck’s – how it was five teens from different backgrounds, who end up finding their common ground and resisting being molded into compliant students. They refused to let the authoritarian break their spirits. Instead, they came together and realized they were more alike than not. They resisted and they found themselves in doing so.
And I wonder now, looking around at everyone – I was the teenager John Hughes was making this film for. My friends were those teens as well. We’re all adults now, skipping into middle age, and I wonder – when did we all give up and become so compliant? When did we realize it was easier to just blend? Is it because it’s just easier and we’re all tired?
I’m not saying rebelling and rejecting everything is cool. Bills still need to be paid, children fed, laundry washed. It’s more the little things, the things we feel make us “bad parents” or “trying to hard”.
Case in point – my hair.
I still have the ends colored. The teal has faded to more of a green. I get lots of compliments from women in their 20’s about my hair. But women closer to my age, when they do compliment it, do so almost wistfully, and add “But I could never do that.”
Why not? Well, I know why not. Because somehow, you’re credibility falters when you’re a 44 year old suburban mom with blue hair – not among those who matter, but those pre-disposed to judge you. It’s like we’ve all hit Labor Day and put away our white shoes.
I’m sure there are some who take it too far. The ones who put their dreams before their children’s needs. The ones who burn bridges and barns and everything else as they go along. I’m not saying be that.
But maybe…have you forgotten to be yourself? That person who loved bright lipstick, who loved to dance, who dreamed big? The one who saw something wrong and went “Hey, that’s wrong!”? Were you ever that person? Remember when growing up to be just like your parents seemed like the most tragic thing ever, and now you’re living in a house with all beige walls thinking that you’re too old for some things?
Is the teenager you once were saying “Don’t you forget about me?”
Would that teen recognize you now?
Will you walk on by all those things you feel you can’t do anymore?
…or will they call your name?


8 Responses to ““Don’t you forget about me…””

  1. 3sistersabroad January 25, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

    How true. I am in my early 60’s and when i color my hair a bright plum etc I often get “oh i wouldn’t be brave enough to do that”. I agree be you who you want to be.

  2. Sarai January 26, 2017 at 1:09 am #

    I’m 42 and was one of those people who looked wistfully at your teal hair and wished I could do something similar – (except you don’t know me… I just read your blog from time to time) But it stuck with me, wondering around the back of my brain… and eventually I did do it. My blonde hair now has teal and purple and blue underneath.

    Our kids, and the teenagers they go to school with love it. My boyfriend likes it, and loves that it makes me happy. Other people my age mostly think I’m insane (which isn’t entirely inaccurate). Know what… I don’t care. It’s not against the rules for my job and as an adult I’m not giving anyone else power over what I look like.
    This makes me happy and it harms no one.

    I just wanted you to know that for at least this one crazy haired lady… I heard your message… it stuck with me… and eventually it helped give me the courage to do something I always wanted to do. Words do change people. that’s powerful.

    Words that mean a lot more to this world then hair color are also heard, Everybody’s words are heard, every day. The most important thing we can do is speak up about what matters to us. Together hopefully we can give each other courage and together we can change big things. Hopefully to make the world better and safer then it is right at this moment.

    • Phoebe January 26, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

      I love this! Thanks!

  3. Sarah Gillie January 26, 2017 at 2:47 am #

    That song and movie bind our neurodiverse clan, too. But I’m not allowed to sing along in the car and I’m working on the hair…

    • Phoebe January 26, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

      I didn’t know that, but OMG it makes total sense!

      Come sing along in my car any time 😀

  4. Beth January 26, 2017 at 7:46 am #

    I love reading your blog…thank you for writing it. Guess what? I’ll be 58 this year and I still color my hair red, and it covers a lot of gray. Many of my friends keep asking me when will I give it up and just let it go natural…ha! Did you see the recent photos of MTM? She was 80 and still coloring her hair. Why? Because she wanted to, I’m sure it must have made her happy. So, I’ll keep coloring mine red, keep wearing bright red, pink, purple/lavender lipstick…BECAUSE IT MAKES ME HAPPY!

  5. Nicole January 26, 2017 at 8:50 am #

    My 5-year-old picked up “Treat yo’self” somewhere, and she tossed it out at me the other day. I was tired and frazzled, and snapping at her and her brother. She pointed out that I often treat them, but never me. When your preschooler notices something like that, it’s time to take notice.

    So I let her dress me today. It’s a bit fancy for my home office, but I do feel a little better about me when I’m not wearing the ratty yogawear that seems to have become the official mom uniform. So maybe she’s on to something. And my teenage self would definitely have approved of the high-heeled boots.

  6. Ang February 12, 2017 at 6:19 pm #

    I’ll be 47 this year and I haven’t done anything crazy with my hair in almost ten years. Unacceptable. I want to be the weird neighborhood cat lady with purple hair when I’m 80. Thanks for the reminder!

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