As we were walking out of gymnastics class the other day, in strode a woman with three children. She...was...gorgeous - tall and fit, dressed in an equestrian-themed outfit, complete with boots, skinny jeans and the most lovely half-up hairstyle. Her makeup was simple but flawless. I couldn't stop staring. I wanted to go up to her and ask a simple but very important question - how?!?!
Because I don't get it. Honestly, I don't. When I see a mom looking lovely, especially a mom who has a child in tow, I am stunned. Every time. Because every single day, I look like this:
Yep, I just took that picture right now. So as you can see, it's not a great look. And today I'm even wearing makeup! Which I never do. So imagine this photo...but worse. Also, to get the full effect, imagine my pants. They're my husband's sweats. And they're brown. And I rolled them up about five inches. Okay, fine...here they are:
That's kind of a wakeup call.
But that's the thing! How does she do it? I simply don't have enough time! I'll sit Harriet down in front of Clifford and I'll go take a shower (without shaving my legs), sort of do my hair (usually a ponytail), and make a half-way attempt at my makeup. I routinely do my eye shadow while walking around the house, without the assistance of a mirror, so you can imagine how that goes. No nail polish. No eyebrow tweezing. No eye liner. No hair product. And this is my "going out look."
Typing all of this makes me realize how sad it really is.
I used to look better. I used to take the time and put in more effort. I used to shave my legs. I used to get my hair highlighted. But let's be real...even then, I never looked like those women I'm referring to. The ones who look flawless in a sweatshirt and jeans. The ones who can actually make messy hair look gorgeous. I can't blame it all on motherhood because some of goofy-looking stuff happened beforehand.
|I'm the boy in the middle row.|
When this is where you start, one would think that you could only go up from there. Au contraire.
When I was younger, I would always picture myself a few years in the future, and I always looked stunning. I would literally envision myself from my feet all the way up to my head - perfect pedicure, legs tan and toned, etc. But high school came, then college, then engagement, and marriage (a bright spot, I'll admit), and I never accomplished the look I thought I'd eventually embody. And then came pregnancy - all hope of that look was lost. About three weeks after finding out I was pregnant with Harriet, I had already stooped to this level:
And that's when I decided to grow out my hair. Things went downhill quickly from there.
|Honestly, what is my hair even doing?|
So now I'm realizing that perhaps this should have been a post about the challenges of growing out very short hair.
And while we're on the topic of hair, let me just take a moment to speak on behalf of those of us who faced adolescence in the dead zone between "it's-the-eighties-and-everyone's-hair-is-atrocious-so-it's-fine" and the invention of flat irons. Ladies, how did we do it? Not only did we have to brave insurmountable frizz on a daily basis but we also got our braces in high school (not elementary school when they're still cool), AND there really was no such thing as cute comfy clothes. But, we made it. Now, I have two CHI flat irons...which I never use.
We often talk about women who have "let themselves go." It sounds like a quiet thing that takes place over time, a peaceful decision one makes. But let me assure you - the letting go of oneself is not a gentle process. Myself is going, whether I like it or not. I never gave it permission. It just turned its back and started for the door. I tried for a while to hold onto it. I dug in my heels. But alas...
So here's where I go back to that head-to-toe fantasy. Someday, I'll have the time and the money to get pampered at the salon, to actually wear the outfits I pin on Pinterest, to try new things with my makeup, to work out regularly. Someday, I'll be tanned and toned and perfectly put together. And I'll sit down around the coffee table with my grown children to look at old photos, and they will say, "Mom, look how pretty you were!" And inside, I will remember that the greatest years of my life had nothing to do with what I was wearing or even whether it was clean.
I'll look into the tired eyes of that puffy young woman in the photos...and I'll feel so proud of her.