"Y ou know I’m going to have a meltdown tonight because I have nothing to wear,” I tell my husband.

He looks up from the computer. “Oh, I thought that was happening tomorrow.”

“No.” I shake my head. “I scheduled it for tonight, so I can lose it, cry, and have a clear head tomorrow when I pack.”

He nods, sucking in his cheek, suppressing a laugh. “Suit yourself.”

“Suits are out,” I respond.

I’m back in high school. Literally. The shabbaton for the high school where I teach is this week, and I’m making to-do lists. Earlier this week I bought translucent face powder to set my makeup in the hope that some of it — please let both eyes retain their eyeliner, not just one! — makes it to the next day instead of being eaten by my pillow. (Yes, I know, silk pillowcases are supposed to help, but that crazy I’m not. Or maybe I am? I just don’t have time for real crazy.)

My sheitel was also on my to-do list. Washed it yesterday, blew it today. Put in enough hairspray to immobilize a kid with ADHD.

“I don’t like it. You don’t look pretty, Mommy...” my four-year-old said as he watched me try on my blown-out product.

He’s just a kid, I told myself, he doesn’t know anything — though I felt the anxiety rising in my stomach. If my kid thinks I’m not pretty… I started walking toward a mirror to survey the damage.

“...when it’s in your face and not all on top of your head,” he finished.

Oh, he’s talking about what it looked like when I was putting it on. Phew.

When everyone is sleeping, I stay up to do the impossible — find myself something to wear. I push aside the sliding door and survey the closet. Old, old, old. I pull out a peachy salmon knit dress that I’ve had for years. It makes my waist nonexistent, but it has a stain near the bottom — I can only wear it at home.

Next, I have many interesting jackets: a silver knit blazer, neon green peplum, white with embroidery, brown with lace — all beautiful, but old, no one wears this stuff. I mean, I wear this stuff, it’s my unique style, but would my students get it? I need to be new and fresh, hip and cool, right?

I close my eyes a moment, shutting out the fun yellows, sophisticated navys, and muted ecru. I need to think this through, make sense of my need to impress, and the obvious immaturity of it. See, I used to be that teacher. The first year I taught — 19, teaching tenth and eleventh grade — I kept a detailed journal of what I wore every day, lest I repeat an outfit. It was mid-February before I succumbed to repetition. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 588)