When becoming a mother, the universal advice is to tell said mother that getting a shower every day is waaay overrated. And this would be truth. Showering each day, in some countries, is a crime. Okay, well I don't really know that for sure, but let's just say that showering every day, in some countries, is a luxury they do not have. This I do know to be true. But I digress...For new mothers, baby comes first. For old mothers, baby comes first. For any mother, BABY COMES FIRST. And this is good. Sort of. To a point.
All discussions about mothers needing time to pamper themselves and take care of themselves so that the child will be healthy, too, yadda, yadda, yadda aside, mothers really do take care of their children/husband/pet/garden before they take care of themselves. At least when it comes to the shower arena. I mean, come on! Who's going to give up Book Club? Or GNO? Or eating food? Most women are eager, eager, eager to feed their souls and minds. But what about our bodies, hmm? As mothers and wives, it's so easy to let ourselves go. And we justify our lack of bodily care with phrases like these:
"I'm too tired to exercise"
"I can't afford the good moisturizer"
"I shouldn't spend money on clothes for me, because my child needs this instead"
"I don't have time for make-up"
"I'll shower tomorrow before husband goes to work"
"T-shirts are just comfortable"
"My husband loves me no matter what I look like"
"I want to focus on my mind, and how can I teach my children to do the same if I worry about how I look?"
I am not immune to these attitudes. In fact, I've said them all. Letting myself go was the easiest thing I ever did after having children. And I felt justified. And my husband truly did love me still. But...! Here are a couple of things blew my justifications out of the water:
ONE: Brandon and I had been married a mere 2 months. He mentions how beautiful I look without make-up on. "Why do you need it?" So, I stop. Why, indeed? After a week of going to school without make-up on, Brandon says to me (lovingly and guiltily): "Well, you can wear it if you want to." I was not offended. I knew I looked better with it on. I also knew it protected my face from sun damage. I willingly went back. Make-up is my friend.
TWO: After having 3 children, I was the expert at T-shirt wearing. Jeans and t-shirts. Usually Brandon's t-shirts. They hid my fat rolls, and so I thought I looked better. The truth was, though, that I looked like a very large box. Brandon mentioned one day (in another loving and somewhat guarded way --no doubt to defend himself from my wrath) that he wouldn't mind if I wore things that fit me well. That comment (given a good 2 years ago) and a fabulous shopping trip with Aunt Carrie changed my attitude about clothing forever.
Now, does this mean I wear make-up every day? Not always. Do I dress perfectly? Not always. But I'm making more of an effort.
THREE: When I got my PVC's from my asthma meds (2 years ago, sorry no posts to link to on that one!), my cardiologist demanded that I exercise. I owe so much of my drive for health to those PVC's (that are now pretty much gone). It spurred me into action and into the throws of weight loss. My goals to lose weight and stay healthy are HARD. But I can't imagine what life will be like when I can look into the mirror and see somebody with lower cholesterol, control of appetite, and lookin' good in some jeans a size my body should be. It's taking a long time. But I'm determined to get there. Fear drives part of me; fear of sickness, fear of immobility, fear of depression, fear of ugliness. But I'm letting that fear help me --and so far, so good.
There have been many posts about dress, make-up, and in general, taking care of ourselves. I've talked about the weight loss stuff many, many times. We know, as women, that we want to feel beautiful. But the focus is so spot-on to the inside of us, that we're more than forgiving the outside of us --we're encouraging it. Mentioning beauty on the outside is akin to heresy, especially in some feminist realms (no specific example, just many comments I've read the last 2 years or so).
Well, I'm here to say that I don't think it's fair. And recently, I've decided it's not going to happen anymore! I am rebelling against the idea that I can be smelly, sweaty, hideous, and fat and still maintain my identity. Yes, I'm a mother. But I'm also Cheryl. And Cheryl used to be healthy and glamorous. Okay, okay, I was a tom-boy, but I was sure a beautiful tom-boy!
So, this morning, I took a shower. This 5:30AM running adds to the need, of course, but I took a shower without Brandon home to watch the kids. This has been nearly impossible for me in the last 6 years. How can I shower with all these little kids running around? Well, today it was nap time for #4 and a movie for #2 and #3. I was in and out in 2 minutes. But it was done. I put on a shirt that fit and flattered my figure. The make-up will come next. And I feel pretty. Without guilt!
I think I'll shower tomorrow, too.