motherhood

Little Luxuries

February 18, 2014

I am just swooning over my sweet babies tonight, each of whom is sick with a rather mediocre cold, (thankfully Dave and I are the hardest hit) and all in need of extra cuddles. It’s hard to extract yourself from the tangled embrace of a sick three year old whispering sweet nothings in your ear, even if his entire bed does stink faintly of urine and peanut butter. This boy is destined for great things.

At any rate, they’re finally abed, and I can finally bang out a blog for the first time in days.

The Wellness Project will hit day 30 on Wednesday, but thanks to some dead Presidents and a loving husband, I was able to go out with a big bang a few days early. Enter the dragon:

Blurry iphone selfie in the mini van marking my triumphant return to blonde.
Never again, chestnut. Never again.

Three uninterrupted hours in an honest-to-goodness salon was pretty blissful, though I did commit the epic faux pas of forgetting mine own reading material. Listen, I enjoy the occasional trashy magazine as much as the next red-blooded American girl, but after the third back issue of People life starts to look a little … bleak. Still, I’m now up to date on all 3 successfully-married couples from the Bach/ette franchise. (Make that 4 now that Sean and Catherine are lawfully wedded.)

While I was sitting back, choking on the bleach fumes and waiting for my color to process (your what to what, honey? asked a concerned Dave back on the home front, shushing a starving and angry breastfeeder) it dawned on me that all this self-care and pampering had really awakened a part of my identity that I had been denying, or perhaps was simply unaware of: I’m a bit of a girly girl.

I guess I sort of recognized that any woman who gets semi-regular pedicures and enjoys interior decorating was fairly feminine, but I’ve kind of downplayed this part of my persona since becoming wife + mother, which is sad. I guess, subconsciously, I was waiting until I was looking/feeling better to go ahead and own that part of me that likes costly shampoos and wearing an apron to cook dinner and putting on mascara to go to Costco…but how sad is that? Why would I squelch this part of my nature, simply because I was unhappy with how I might look in this phase of life?

I think a big part of it was fear, and the hope that if I didn’t make myself vulnerable by admitting I cared about looking or feeling pretty, then I wouldn’t be crushed when someone (I don’t know who. The world, my mirror, a stranger’s glance in Target?) disagreed with me.

So that makes perfect sense, right? Don’t want to be called out for being ugly or frumpy or past one’s prime, so dress in tattered yoga pants and forgo makeup. Um…

Anyway, sometime during this whole project my little sister pointed out that there was never going to be a time where I would be perfectly happy with my appearance, so to stop waiting for that time and to just put on some mascara. Every day. Her point wasn’t that I looked bad, but that while agonizing over how different I might look from high school or college Jenny, I was, in a very real sense, wasting the pretty.

I don’t want to wake up and be 45 years old and sporting an androgynous haircut and a mock turtle neck because I gave up on life, you know? I want to gracefully embrace my changing (but not destroyed) femininity as the years pile up.

Not to get too deep here over beauty products and ‘me time’, but if this past month has taught me anything, it’s that when I take some time each day to value and care for myself, I have much more to give to my family. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether I put any makeup on or showered or brushed my teeth…but if in forgoing any of those things I was less patient, less kind, and less loving toward my family, then actually, it matters quite a bit.

So here we are, almost 30 days in, and I think the thing’s been a smashing success. In fact, I think I’ll keep it up, this whole business of wellness.

Starting with my little post-bedtime wars cocktail hour. May I present my immunity-boosting and milk-producing combo? A little Guiness plus a little spinach, though not necessarily in the same glass.

Mmmm, vitamins…

Cheers, mamas.

6 Comments

  • Reply Christine February 18, 2014 at 3:36 am

    Your hair looks great! Also, thanks for sharing these reflections. I realize that I’m guilty of some of the same lines of thinking. Especially right now, almost 8 months pregnant, when my stomach is already busting out of most of my maternity tops and I’m forced by some sort of weird pregnancy-induced allergy to wear glasses all day…it’s hard to want to make much effort :-/

  • Reply Diana February 18, 2014 at 4:56 am

    You are rockin’ the blond! You look fabulous. And, cheers to little luxuries!

  • Reply The Catholic Lawyer Mama February 18, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Wow, great post. I seriously need to laminate this part and put it on my bathroom mirror — “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether I put any makeup on or showered or brushed my teeth…but if in forgoing any of those things I was less patient, less kind, and less loving toward my family, then actually, it matters quite a bit.” — because looking nice is very low on the priority list when I’m not at work, but it totally affects how I am with my family. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Laura Cameron February 18, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    When you ARE 45 and look at photos like this one, you will say, “Gee, I was beautiful back then, why didn’t I realize it?”

  • Reply Anonymous February 19, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I’m going to go out on a limb here (at great risk of falling catastrophically and failing to communicate.) Here goes nothin’ A little background: my mother was a Prom Queen in an area known to behold beauty frequently and my grandmother was a model. When my parents split, I was 18mo, we left the State and so my influential sphere became pretty much nothing but the aforementioned women. This is all just to say, very firmly, I am witness. Identifying oneself as pretty is helpful but only to a degree and actually, deposits one’s self inside of a funnel cycle, cuz, physical beauty is a steady movement down the age drain. The age drain is a gentle one, thank goodness, but a drain no less. Soap box, here I come. I’m not about to tell you to look inside. Ready for it? My friends, we, as women, have to seize the reality that is even BEYOND that simple upward reality of air flow or rather, internal enrichment that comes with age and BEYOND that downward motion of physical appearances. We all know it’s not enough to simply look inside and we can’t ignore the reality outside either. You might find that if you meditate on what I’m about to say, as arrogant as I might come off right now, apologies necessary here, that those showerless-powerless days are a burden more easily overcome and every wrinkle, dark circle, and saggy baggy…blah blah in-between…

    There is something bigger, deeper, more wonderful about your beauty and this is simply that you are. Bear with me here…Ready!? You are like the water vortex. You’re igniting. You’re full of light. You’re powerful. You’re in a constant motion of fulfillment: aspiring and transpiring in an ecstatic torque of movement towards your ultimate end which, will exhale its finality in death (because of the fall,) and yet, the life of the soul yet to be fully realized. You are AWEsome! Yet, lest the Wellness Project meet a merry-go-round into a dead end…

    God made you and put you into motion! Yet, the funnel is not your only reality because, you, in comparison with the waters, are in a state of rest too, in this present moment, as you live it: you simply are. You also share in eternity and therefore, there is something forever leisurely about you. You’re serene. You’re still. You’re peaceful. You remain in beauty because God, who is beauty, made you. There is something about you that is constant and from that you find that you’re not just lovely, you’re the mirror of Perfection. When you think that maybe, this is not so, go look at the cross. His face and body bloodied, bruised, turned to nearly inhuman void, SEE, that THAT is irrevocable Beauty, not even physical appearances could mar. You have it all, girl.

    Another example. He is you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDl75-FmZfo
    We have to strive to own this and learn to thank God for, dare I say, those ugly intractable days…and even to hold physical appearances to some degree of contempt for how it distracts from the truth of who we are.

    So, next time, when you wake up and look in the mirror and feel drone and dull and strive to put on the mascara, remember, that that little FUNNEL-shaped pick with black streaky goo on it, isn’t necessary and doesn’t even add to your essential reality, really, but it is just a reminder that devil-be-damned, you’re inscrutably beautiful. So, done it if you will, mascara is neither here nor there for meaning but if it be anything let it be a nice patent for your beauty and never an admission of fault. God keep you in his peace.

  • Reply Micaela Darr February 23, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Are you in my brain? This is so beautiful, and very very true. I’m glad your Wellness Project was a success. Perhaps I will embark in something like this for Lent.

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