Wednesday, August 29, 2007

To Shower, or not to Shower?

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.


Denae said...

I KNOW I have a better day when I am up before the kids and ready. I just can't cope any other way and over time it is now a habit. I literally cannot function when I don't get all ready. I'm glad I learned that lesson and I'm going to teach it to my girls. It just makes you FEEL better. Great job on the weight loss and healthy goals Cheryl!

Summer said...

You just reminded me I haven't showered since Sunday. :D
I so wish I could get up before my kids but they wake between 5:30 and 6 every morning and I just can't beat that.

Cristy (Mom) said...

OK, I call it the "Essentials Only Shower." You know, the, I literally haven't shower for 2 days so really stink, jump in, soap down, no hair washing or shaving, jump out in less than a minute shower. I try to get one of those if I can.

I'm trying to start a "Spa Night" for myself. (Hasn't happened yet, but I think about it all the time!) a night where after the kids are in bed, I lock myself in the bathroom, take a really long shower where I shave everything, shampoo my hair several times, do a facial scrub or something, get out and moisturize, clip all the digits and paint the toenails, pluck the eyebrows, floss, you know, all those little things you used to do everyday, but now never get done. That way, at least once a week I'd be well groomed. It's an idea, and I think a good one. Maybe you could start it and let me know how it goes!

Jamie J said...

I HAVE to shower everyday. My hair depends on it...otherwise I'm a oozy oily drippy hair girl and that does nothing for my self esteem! LOL I figure that a movie for 10-20 minutes (well actually however long it is) while I get myself ready for the day is not going to permanently harm my child--I don't know what I'll do when I have more than one!--so it's always been a priority for me. And yes, wearing makeup does make me feel better about myself. Do I always do it, no, but when I do it makes a difference.

April said...

I found your blog through a friend of a friend...anyways I LOVE to read it you are so REAL, sometime I feel it is something I would have written! The truth that beauty is the first sacrifice is so true, but we all love looking and feeling beautiful and confident it just takes time to figure out how to acheive motherhood and womanhood simultaneously.

Janelle said...

I know that I only am a mother of two but I always get a good long shower. I totally put a show on and when there is a newborn I just brought the bassinet/swing/bouncy chair into the bathroom to make sure the older kids didn't bug them. Also, when they can sit up I just put the bath chair at the bottom of the shower and let them play while I relieved some stress (and got clean too) Good for you, but just because I take a shower doesn't mean I have to do my hair does it?

kanga5 said...

Since school started I have been trying to get up before the boys to get in the shower. It's made a HUGE difference in my day. Thank goodness for PBS. If the boys wake up before I'm done- they come in and let me know they're up and then go watch cartoons. I'm not sure how this pattern will keep up after #4 gets here but I'm sure going to try. I was the same with the big t-shirts and such. Yuck, looking back. Even my pregnancy clothes have changed. I was SO much more girly and concious of my looks this time- maybe it was the extra estrogen. :) I agree with you- it's worth the effort. Remind me of that when I'm 6 weeks post partum. :)

Sara said...

i need a shower!! ;)

Rochelleht said...

It's called communal showering. Sad but true. My kids and I share water. It's the only way.

Cheryl said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only mom trying to make an effort!

Great habit to have. I'm trying to do it, too! Brandon and to remind me to jump in the shower when I got back from running this morning --obviously, it's not a habit, yet. :)

Do what Janelle mentioned --just shower after he's gone (or during naptime!).

Oh, man! I need those spa days, too! I get them about once a month. I should try for more.

My hair is the same way!

Wait! I think I heard about you from Rebecca, right? If so, you need to come to playgroup on Thursdays! I'd love to meet you...

Right on! I never thought about the chair in the shower thing. Great idea!

I'll remind you. ;)

Yes, you do. I can smell you from...Just kidding! :)

I don't think I could do that, but I have to give you props for making it work for you. :) :)