Mother Teach Me To Walk Again.
Behind me, however, I hear an only slightly older woman laugh as she juggles two unwieldy offspring. “That’ll all change when you two have kids!” She says. “I just stopped bothering, they stop noticing.” Not with woe, not as a funny, exaggerated warning, but in a tone and with a smirk that suggests supreme smug satisfaction. I’ve seen it before, directed at me. ‘You pretty girls are doomed, soon you’ll be just like me, not caring a bit that your hair is a mess and sweat pants have become your uniform. HA! Enjoy your little workouts and your little dresses and your husbands who still think you’re cute while you can.’
But it did get me thinking. No, I am not a mother yet, nor do I plan on being one in the very near future. But I do plan on being one. And I’ve also been surrounded by mothers, babies, small children, and husbands who still find their wives attractive all of my life. I understand losing yourself for a bit, losing your sense of style and the time to truly doll yourself up for a while in favor of letting your body go through it’s natural changes in size, in favor of caring for someone who depends solely on you, of course I do. But to give yourself up to that as an inevitability, as something that can’t be changed and the world should stop expecting you to be pretty, to express yourself, is a very sad and, I think, misguided way to think. Especially with the examples I’ve had.
My mom is one of the classiest ladies I know. Even when she was juggling all six kids under one roof, little boys and moody teenage girls and young men tracking dirt and dust on her carpets, she’s had class. Even if the dress might not have been new or the shoes the latest fashion, when we went shopping for groceries when I was a whiny, clingy toddler, she was put together, neat, with a signature shade of berry-colored lipstick and a spritz of Estee Lauder Beautiful. My sister has two little ones, and while yes, at home it’s all casual easy-to-clean wear, when she hops out the door to run errands she’s wearing a flattering pair of jeans, a cute little pair of flats and a chic jacket, kids in tow. My sister in law has three kids under the age of eight, and is the tiny, high heel-obsessed fashionista mom who does it all. My friend Erika is an utterly exceptional dready rainbow momma to her two kids, engaging in many creative projects and dressing in bright colors that make people smile.
I can’t possibly imagine giving up my expression, my sense of self, the things that make me who I am and that make me feel like a girl! I am reminded of Laura Bennett from Season 3 of Project Runway. While I doubt I could be a mom of six boys and still wear khakis and neck scarves every single day, she did inspire me to set iron-clad goals for myself for the future. If I have five minutes, I can pick a pair of well-cut jeans instead of sweats. If my hypothetical kids are zoned out in front of Yo Gabba Gabba, I can hop on the treadmill. I can swipe on mascara. I can grab an apple instead of a lunch-able. We can all throw paint and glitter around together. And so forth.
So no, I’m not a mother yet. My body hasn’t gone through all of those changes, all of that trauma, and my life hasn’t been set aside in favor of nurturing another, yet. But I do already know that if I don’t make that (small) extra effort to still take care of myself, all relationships will suffer. Simple as that. I want to stay the fit, pretty, artistic wife. I want my kids to not think I resent them. I’m sure I’ll get lazy in there somewhere, yeah. The hair may not get straightened every day, and the jewelry may take longer to get made. But you won’t hear me bragging about no longer feeling like myself.