How does Mommy look?

Jun 30, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in the waiting room of my daughter’s speech therapy building (she has issues with the /r/ sound) when I got up to go to the restroom. I had already, 30 minutes before, met my husband in the parking lot to switch cars (and children), spoken to the receptionist to check Jordan in, and met briefly with the speech therapist as she came out to get Jordan.

Anyway, as I was saying, I went into the restroom and as I washed my hands, I quickly glanced in the mirror. I was HORRIFIED by what I saw. My hair was a shaggy mess, still disheveled from the 30 minute nap I had taken earlier that afternoon and my mascara was smudged under my left eye. How embarrassing. I could not believe that I had been talking to people looking like this. What must they have thought of me? And, why is it that my husband didn’t see any reason to point out my crazy look before I embarrassed myself any further? Was it because he’s so used to seeing me this way that he didn’t even notice? The thought of that made me feel even worse.

And, the thing is, I wish I could say that in my nearly seven years of parenting, this was the first time something like this has happened. But, unfortunately, it seems that more and more often these days, I find myself in a similar situation . . . rushing to get out the door . . . filling sippy cups . . . stuffing diaper bags . . . quieting whiney children . . . and not taking a moment to glance in the mirror or run a brush through my hair. It’s not that I’m so busy that I don’t have time (though, in reality, I don’t). But, it’s more that I literally forget to see what I look like. I am so consumed with the kids and how they look and what they need that the thought of me and my physical appearance completely leaves my mind. I wish it didn’t. Trust me. I really, really wish it didn’t – as demonstrated by my appearance at yesterday’s speech therapy – but it does.

I vividly remember the first time this happened to me. My daughter must have been about 4 or 5 months old. At that time, I was working as a high school counselor and she came to work with me. (The school had a daycare on the first floor.) Getting not just me, but also her, ready and out the door by 7 am was quite a challenge as a new mom. I thought, however, that I was doing pretty well with my new juggling act. That is, until one morning when I was about 5 minutes from work and I happened to glance in the rearview mirror. In utter disbelief, I realized that I had not put on any makeup that morning. None. Not a touch of blush or lipstick or eyeliner. Nothing. Nada. It was not a pretty sight. And, because I am not the type of person to carry makeup with me, I had to quickly pull into the parking lot of a nearby grocery store, grab Jordan from her seat and run in the door. I purchased a few makeup items to help me become relatively presentable that day and got myself ready in the car.

Later that day, I relayed that story to my best friend, Renee, who, by then, already had two kids. I don’t know if I have ever heard her laugh so hard as she did at my tale. At the time, I believe I thought she was laughing because she could just imagine how I looked. But, now, three children down the road, I realize that perhaps she was really laughing because she not only felt my pain, but knew that with every child I added to my brood, I would find myself in a similar state more and more often.

And, it only makes sense that something like this would happen. After all, once you have children, it’s not like an extra 3 hours a day comes with the baby as a bonus. You still only have 24 hours to get it all done. But, now, not only do you have all of your stuff and your husband’s stuff to fit into the day, you also have all those child’s . . . and subsequent children’s . . . needs and wants and desires. Something has to give. For some, it’s their hobbies, like reading or playing a sport. For me, it seems, it’s the act of looking in a mirror.

So, if any of you stumble upon me, whether when you visit my house or see me in a store, and it’s clear I have not seen my reflection in awhile . . . please offer to watch my kids for a moment and then say, ever so gently, “Hey, why don’t you go into the bathroom for a minute.” I’ll get the hint . . . and be extremely grateful to you for the gesture . . . because, I promise you, I do care how I look . . . and, I really don’t mean to look so frazzled . . . I just am!

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