In the middle of the mall’s play area, there’s a woman in 4-inch heeled Mary Janes and a retro 50’s-style dress. She’s balancing on those stilettos while she stops the toddler from escaping the play area. She folds her skirt under when she sits in the parent area and touches up her lip gloss while she watches the kids playing together inside a big plastic tree. She showed up to the playground completely done up as if she were going out with other adults rather than two small children. I’m that mom.
Supermodel mom I am not. Having children took no small toll on my body. I wear my tummy stripes with pride and took three years to get back down to my original size. I was one of the lucky ones who came out from that battle with only some loose skin and bigger hips.
After I was down to my old size again, I finally tried on my clothes from before the kids came into my life. Then I threw them all away. Every dress and blouse went out the door and down to the donation center.
Why did I need those nicer clothes anymore? I was a stay-at-home-mom, something I’d wanted for a while, so why would I need anything more than just my jeans, pajama pants, and T-shirts? Everything I wore got covered in baby food and milk anyway. My heels and make-up bag gathered dust while I fell into a routine of taking care of everyone but myself.
It took me starting a blog to reignite my interest in myself. I joined a weight-loss program and starting slimming and toning my body. They asked me to regularly post pictures of myself as I progressed and I was dumbfounded. Other people were going to see me! Suddenly having an arsenal of clothing at my disposal seemed a lot more important.
I still wasn’t leaving the house. In fact, I was standing in the dining room right next to my two goofy toddlers while they tried to make me smile for my pictures. Other people were still going to be able to see me though! Sweatpants just weren’t going to cover it for me anymore.
I started shopping and it was wonderful. The man of the house watched the children while I took my first day to really think about myself since the moment I got that positive pregnancy test. I took a single day to go shopping, wander the mall, test out new trends, and have a pretzel in the food court to enjoy the silence. It was the first time that Brooke emerged from under Mommy and I realized that those two people didn’t have to be so separate.
In the time since then, I’ve spent a lot of my energies trying to find a balance between my needs and those of the children.
Not everyone I know "gets it," though. I remember taking the kids to the lake house last summer in a pair of wood and leather platform pumps. After losing the weight I gained with the kids, I had bought new shoes and a bathing suit for the first time in years. I was pretty proud of it to be perfectly honest! The women in my family absolutely gasped at my choice and were quick to offer me a pair of black foam flip-flops to replace them.
I understood the practicality of it, but it just wasn't me. They were concerned about me and didn’t understand how important those heels were for my confidence. Marilyn Monroe said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” That summer, in those shoes, she was absolutely right.
A year later (now deciding what to wear to my birthday lunch), I looked at the denim pencil skirt, ruffled top, and jewelry that I laid out for the party and was satisfied. My favorite pair of Mary Jane stilettos sat at the end of the bed taunting me. I could just see my mother's face while I dressed: horrified at me balancing on those little heels while managing my two active boys at a restaurant and not understanding why I’d wear a skirt out when the temperature is still under 70. It’s because that’s how I’m comfortable. That’s how I’m confident.
There are some things that women accept they give up when they enter motherhood. You get less sleep. You have to wonder what that new stain is on your favorite shirt. You have less time to yourself and might forget what silence is like. I am of the mindset that when your time is all dedicated to helping little humans thrive, it is the most important time in your life to take a minute to brush your hair, put on your favorite lipstick, and rock your favorite heels to continue feeling fabulous.
Tips for sneaking in confidence-building beauty time:
• Wake up before your children so that you have time to shower before they need you. Take that time to wash your hair and face so that you feel clean when you start your daily routine. If you have an infant that you can’t leave alone in the crib, put them in a baby carrier or play saucer and take them into the bathroom with you while you shower. You can talk to them while you shower and build interaction with them.
• If you suffer from complexion issues or blemishes, invest in pre-wetted medicated pads for acne or witch hazel pads for redness and large pores. This will make using those needed products only take a few seconds to use.
• Make yourself a mini beauty bag that you can take out of your makeup case and stick into your purse or baby bag to take with you. Fill it with your absolute essentials like gloss, concealer (if you need it), small bottle of sunscreen, and one or two eye shadow colors that compliment your complexion.
• Pick out your favorite lipstick or lip gloss and keep it accessible. Sometimes a woman feels like a million bucks with just that little swipe of color across their lips.
• If you want to do your makeup and have very young kids, let them sit in the bathroom with you. Give them an old brush and let them play with the bristles or use it to dust the counter while you take a minute for you.
• Get one nice pair of shoes that looks good with several outfits you own and wear them out to boost your confidence. Even if it’s just to the grocery store, you’ll feel great when others can’t help but look at your shoes.