Lost in Suburbia: The Mommy from the Black Lagoon

Tracy Beckerman

There are some women who wake up and they look fresh as a daisy. When I wake up, I look like a dead daisy that got sprayed with weed killer and then got trampled by a herd of stampeding elephants.

In case you weren’t sure, this is not a particularly attractive look.

Although I’d like to blame this on advanced age, the truth is, I have never been a pretty sleeper. When I was a kid, I would emerge from my room in the morning like an extra from “Dawn of the Dead.” Even the dog would run away in abject terror.  My brothers lovingly nicknamed me “The Sister from the Black Lagoon” and my parents would argue over whose side of the family was responsible for my hideously ugly morning genes.

Yes, it was that bad.

I wondered if maybe I suffered from some kind of night terrors that left me looking like I had wrestled with alligators in my dreams. However, I actually felt pretty rested in the morning, despite the fact that I had such bad bed head I resembled Don King and so many bed sheet creases on my face that I looked like I needed to be ironed.

None of this was really that much of a concern to me until I met my future husband. I feared for the day he would wake up next to me, believe my body had been invaded by gruesome aliens, and call the “Men in Black” to vaporize me or send me back to the planet on the other side of the universe from which I had come. The other possibility, of course, was that he would wake up next to me, be horrified and immediately break up with me. Neither option was a particularly good one. 

Although I was an Ugly Sleeper, it turned out my future husband was a Groggy Waker, which made us the perfect couple. Since he couldn’t really see straight for the first half hour or so after he woke up, he had no idea how hideous I looked in the morning. By the time he was alert, I’d had time to wash my hair and iron my face and no one was the wiser.

Unfortunately, my kids did not inherit the Groggy Waker gene and were clear-eyed and alert when I would emerge from my bedroom in the morning looking like an escapee from a mad scientist’s laboratory. Of course every kid thinks their mother is beautiful. But at some point a light switch goes off in their head and they suddenly realize that although Mommy may be beautiful on the inside, there are times when Mommy is not only NOT beautiful, she is downright scary looking. Rather than scream in fright though, they would point and me and laugh. And then, sometime later, an assignment would come home from school instructing the kids to draw a picture of their mother in which I would bear an uncanny resemblance to a character in a Maurice Sendak book.

The good news is, time is the great equalizer and although I do not get any better looking in the mornings as I get older, I’m encouraged by the fact that there is one group that suddenly becomes equally as unattractive in the mornings: teenagers.

Follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyinSuburbia.