My favorite chapter in Tina Fey's BossyPants is the chapter called "What Turning Forty Means to Me." It says,
That's the whole chapter.
This is great news because I already have to take my pants off as soon as I get home, so forty has nothing on me. I'm invincible to forty.
But pants aren't the only things we take off at the front door, are they? We are always shucking things off there. I contend that we shed our very skins.
In the summer we shed things that are wet and grassy: drippy bathing suits, damp towels, sweaty socks, grass stained shorts, shirts sticky with watermelon juice.
In the spring we shed things that are wet and muddy: rain jackets, sloppy boots, gardening gloves.
In the winter we shed things that are wet and snowy. We unzip and step out of our outer shells. We strip off layers of coats, hats, shirts, scarves, leggings, socks, and soggy mittens. We peel them off like we're husking corn.
We don’t shed anything in the fall because fall is perfect.
When we get home from work we kick off the heels, peel off the pantyhose, unbutton the jeans. We take down our hair, cast aside the briefcase. We unclasp the bra, pull it out of a sleeve and toss it across the room.
And it's at the front door that we take off all of our defenses. Home is where the masks come off.
We take off the “Everything is great!” mask.
The “I’m an organized parent!” mask.
The “We’re so happily married!” mask.
We take off the "American-dream, I-can-do-it-all-myself-if-I-just-work-hard-enough" mask.
We peel off our skin, exhale, and become who we are. Not what we do, or how our kids behave, or how we introduce ourselves at parties – who we ARE.
We always undress when we come home. Pantyhose and pretense: they both come off at the front door.
I wasn't sure this post had a point. I thought that maybe it was just an observation. But after I thought about it for a minute it came to me. The application is this: please, please, please don't forget to strip. Take off the masks, take off the pretense. Take off the blame pantyhose. Because if, when you walk in your front door, you can't peel off the layers of defense and pretense, you'll never really be home.