A strange, strange phenomenon has occurred in my life since I had children and hit my 40’s, and that is: I’m tired. I wake up tired, in the middle of the day I’m tired, and when I cannot fall back asleep sometimes at 3 AM when I am awake for no reason I am still tired. What this means is that I’ve had to prioritize in my life, really evaluate what needs doing, as in, downright essential, and what does not need to be accomplished so much as it is a “nice to have.” Being pretty falls into the category of “nice to have.”
Wash dirty dishes? Essential. Buy milk? Must do. Throw away tsunami of junk mail before it threatens to engulf our entire front entry hall? Crucial. Help child with homework assignment which involves counting how many plugs and light switches are in the house and approximating the dollar amount spent per plug/ switch per month by analyzing the latest electric bill? Urgent. Spend one hour blow-drying my hair? Not so much.
Here is a list of things that no longer fight for time-slots in my day:
• Make-up: eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick, or any of these components separately
• Shampooing hair
• Conditioning hair
• Drying hair (see above)
• Curling hair (I have long, stringy hair)
• Hair-spraying hair
• Brushing hair
• Putting cute barrette in hair
• Jewelry of any kind (plastic Timex watch does not count)
• Dry cleaning nice outfit (vs. desperately pawing through heap of wrinkled but clean clothes on basement floor five minutes after I should have left for work)
• Ironing outfit
• Flossing teeth
• Doing a good and thorough job flossing teeth
• Bleaching teeth (I used to do this, I swear I did)
• Plucking eye-brows
• Polishing shoes
• Packing myself a simple and healthy lunch to take with me (vs. paying $10 for convenient junk food on my break)
• Working out in the morning (or any time of day for that matter), which includes a doctor-recommended mix of cardio and weight training
• Walking to work to my new top-secret job, which is literally a half mile from my house (vs. driving and then lying about it to my new boss—“I live so close! I walk every day!”)
I used to be naturally beautiful, breath-taking/ super-model/ stop-and-look-again beautiful, for about a week in my 20’s. Okay, maybe more like two days.
Now, sadly, there is more work involved, and apparently, less time to do it in. Is it just me, or have the 24-hour days that we were raised on suddenly morphed into 19-hour days without giving us any advance notice? I would actually be happy if this were the case, because it would explain a lot.
Every morning, I focus on my kids: Getting them up, making insightful wardrobe recommendations (“I don’t care, as long as it’s clean!”), making their breakfast, politely reminding them that it would be a good idea to brush their teeth (“Brush! Teeth! Now!”), helping them retrieve their (unfinished) homework from the previous day (this might be when I am first informed of the counting-of-the-plugs accounting experiment and advanced calculus problem), locating their coats (which I know I saw in the front closet yesterday), getting their shoes from the Great Mystery Shoe Places scattered around our home …
Have I proved my point yet? I don’t have time to be pretty.
I haven’t even talked about cleaning up the house. Dishes. Laundry. Mail. Unmade beds.
The Husband and I have an understanding, and that is: either I can be pretty, the house can be pretty, or the kids can be pretty. But not all at once.
I catch sight of myself in the rearview mirror on the short drive to work. Ack! Who’s she? She is not that girl from that weekend in 1994, the one who was mistaken for a model. Not even close. She is a mom, a tired mom, who is tired of fighting the war against the Not Pretty. Okay, Not Pretty, you win.