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I am a stay-at-home mom. I don’t have a dress code, because the only people who see me during the week are the school bus driver and the elderly shoppers at the grocery store.
Oh, and my kids — but they don’t care what I look like.
It wasn’t always this way. I used to have a stuffy corporate job that required heels and forbade jeans, I worked in a mauve-colored cubicle, and I’m pretty sure something was in the air supply that eroded my soul. Once I started having kids, I quit my job (and my heels), but I didn’t stop wearing makeup. Simply put, I didn’t want to.
I remember my husband and I talking about our budget and how drastically it was going to change once I quit working, and he said “Well, since you’ll be staying at home, you won’t be wearing makeup anymore — so we won’t have to spend that.”
I looked at him and replied, “EXCUSE ME?” It’s like he didn’t even know me.
I’ve always had a tendency to overdress for every occasion. Why? Because it makes me feel better. I am the one wearing a dress at kid’s birthday parties and sometimes other women make snide comments to me about how I’m always “so dressed up.” Generally, the more nervous I am, the harder I work on trying to look presentable. Some people assume that’s insecurity, but quite frankly, I’m secure in the belief that it is okay to take pride in my appearance.
That’s why, even when I’m just spending the day at home with the kids, I still wear makeup. It’s minimal — concealer, powder, blush, mascara and lip gloss — but just three minutes can make a huge difference. You know the feeling you get when you look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself because you look like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck? That feeling sucks and I prefer to avoid it. I spend most of my day hunting down the source of the urine smell in the bathroom, so the last thing I need is to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and feel sadness. That just adds insult to injury.
Sometimes people ask me how I have the time to put makeup on every day. I make time. Maybe that means that a toddler is screaming at my bedroom door, or digging through my makeup drawer while I slap concealer on my under eye circles. Maybe it means I’m smearing gloss on my lips as I’m driving down the road, or maybe my kids are fighting in the other room while I finish getting ready. My children know that I need a few minutes to myself every morning to get dressed, and although they may not like it all the time, it’s important that they understand that everyone — even Mommy — is entitled to a little personal space. It’s healthy for them to see that their mother has needs, and occasionally that means that other people’s needs have to be put on hold.
It’s called self-respect.
Wearing makeup is one of the small ways that I have managed to hold onto my real self, the person I am at my core. As a mother and a wife, it can be hard to lose sight of that person. When I look in the mirror, I don’t want to see the bedraggled version that I’ve become after all these years of being a stay-at-home mom. I want to see a happy, albeit tired, reflection of myself. I want to see a person who is happy with who she is, happy with her choices, and happy with her life. Somehow, erasing those under eye circles helps me see that person.
Maybe it’s the Southerner in me, but there’s something about knowing that I look good that makes me feel like I can take over the world. Because even if I fail miserably, I’ll look damn good doing it.
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