Sunday, October 25, 2009

Taking Time Vs. Making Time

Six weeks after giving birth to her first child, my friend Becky (a paralegal) found herself shopping for some new non-maternity clothes at her local mall. Heading into the dressing room with an armload of outfits and an infant car seat, Becky started to undress - only to discover that she'd forgotten to put on panties that morning. My friend Aimee, a former beauty queen, confesses to leaving the house in her slippers more than once while pregnant with her second child. She used to have perfect nails and hair, but now complains that she doesn't have time to wash her hair daily or iron her clothes - although her girls are always pressed and perfect, giant bows adorning their spiral curls.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I once met some friends for lunch with two different shoes on. Granted, carrying a 10-pounder, I hadn't been able to see over my belly, but you'd think I'd have taken the time to check the mirror. And just a few weeks ago, I was driving home from dropping my kids off at school when I happened to glance in my rear view mirror. In my haste to get everyone ELSE presentable, I'd forgotten to put mascara on one eye.

In contrast, I recently saw a picture of my friend Katie, who's just had her fourth baby in five years. It's her "welcome home" shot, where she's walking in the door of her house, her newborn in her arms. Her hair is gorgeous, her make-up is flawless, a glowing smile lights her face. If she took time (because we all know she didn't HAVE time) to look good, why don't I?
So this got me thinking: does motherhood make you sloppy? Does having kids make you forget about your appearance, make you so busy that you truly don't have time to "do" yourself up anymore? Or is that just an excuse? Is it that we don't HAVE time, or that we don't TAKE time? (Don't even say the words "make time". As if we can just flip a switch on some machine and "make" more time in our day. If I had the patent on THAT, I'd be a rich woman.)

Before I had kids, I worked full-time. To quote that Klymaxx song from the 80s, my nails were done and my hair was fierce. I never left the house without lipstick. I wouldn't THINK about walking around in public in a stained tee-shirt or baggy sweatpants. Even my gym clothes were cute. I wore name brands: Gap, Ann Taylor, even the occasional Armani. Nowadays? I'll admit to grocery shopping in Wal Mart sweats and a tee-shirt that's older than my kids - and significantly less clean. I've told myself that it doesn't matter, that we moms are just so busy that we don't always have time to be put together.

But isn't that just a load of crap? What if I still had a job? I might head to my kids' school with dripping hair and chipped nail polish, but would I go to work like that? My best friend and my sister are both working moms, and I've never seen them at the office with greasy hair, in sloppy sweats. At home, sure. On the weekends, without a doubt. But at work? Not on your life. They have kids and husbands and homes AND jobs, yet they manage to be presentable at work. They don't magically have more time than I do; if anything, they have less.

So here's my theory: it's not so much that it's socially acceptable to sometimes be a slob if we "just" stay home with our kids. It's that is more socially UNacceptable to go to work that way. You just can't get away with it, so you don't even try to.

Slacker Mom Says...yes, having babies fries your brain. It makes you forgetful, cranky, tired, and fat...but only for a few months. Then it's time to stop blaming the kids. If I don't take 20 minutes to slap on some make-up and do my hair, I can't blame anyone but myself. What does it say about me if my kids wear clean, pressed clothes and have lovely French braids, but my soaking wet hair is scraped back in a ponytail and my yoga pants were clearly pulled out of the hamper - for the third time this week? If I don't TAKE the time, you can be damn sure no one is going to give it to me! When I was a teacher, I felt like I couldn't get ahead; as soon as the towering stack of papers was graded, I'd have that day's work to grade all over again! Motherhood is a lot like that: No matter how many hours a day you spend doing it, there will always be something more to do. So why not just take a break and take some "me" time? Pathetic, I know, that doing my hair is "me" time, but maybe thinking of it like that will make it easier to TAKE the time that I deserve. My girls look to me to see what a mother means; I don't want them to think that they have to put themselves last once they become mothers. No, I don't need to look flawless all the time, but I'll be honest - I could be more pulled-together.

Besides, soon enough my kids will be in middle school. Then I'll need some way to embarrass them. So I'll save those Wal Mart sweats and the mac-and-cheese stained tee-shirts for awhile longer.


  1. Aw man--you're taking away my only excuse not to put makeup on... sigh...

  2. OMG you crack me up again. So true!! We've got to find a balance between all done up all the time, and a complete mess all the time. Wait, does that give us yet another job to do?

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  5. no makeup necessary. i'm just saying don't forget your panties! and if you DO wear makeup, do both eyes!