When my daughter was about four, she looked at a picture of my pre baby. She looked at the picture and looked up at me, and did this about five times. She looked up at me and said “This is you?” I said yes. She responded “What happened Mommy. You used to be so pretty.”

Four year olds. Got to love their tact.

My initial reaction was to wonder how I was raising a child who put stock in appearances.

And then I looked in the mirror.

Sweats. Oversized Giants T shirt. (I’m sure something was stained) Hair that hadn’t been trimmed in a loooong time. Perhaps my face was washed…perhaps not…

Unfortunately, I think you get the picture.

I’d had a kid and let myself go. I mean really go. Gone so far…

My reasonings are multiple and confusing. First off I was a mother and time just seemed to slip away. If I had extra time, ha ha ha, I would try to read or nap. Grooming was something I squeezed in. On top of that,  I had a mother who was obsessed with her physical appearance- I won’t bore you with those details, but it’s not easy to grow up the daughter of someone like this, and therefore, my goal as a mother of a daughter was to show her to just be herself and that outer appearance doesn’t matter.

Yeah right.

But at the moment my daughter wondered why I no longer looked like I did in the picture, I realized that I was still sending my daughter a bad message, even though it was totally different. I was showing her that Mother’s don’t take care of themselves. I was teaching her that when you’re a Mom it’s ok to put everything and everyone else ahead of being a person. 

I was teaching her that I, as a Mother, didn’t matter.

Mothers come last.

Mothers take care of everyone but themselves.

So yes- as many pointed out this week, many women ease up on the routines of beauty once they become Mothers. I totally get that. Been their, done that, had the stained t shirt…

But

There’s a difference between not spending as much time on ourselves and letting ourselves go.

Maybe you don’t have time for a hairstyle- but make sure you get regular trims and get a cut that is maintenance free. Don’t color your hair at all if you end up with four inch roots… And really-just wash and comb your hair on a regular basis!

Avoid sweatpants and your partners XXXL t shirts that they got for free as a promotion.

Clean clothes (I had a friend with a four month old- she was going out to lunch with a single friend . Her shirt was stained and her friend remarked on that and she told her friend “Doesn’t matter. Whatever I wear will be dirty by the end of the day.” True- but how much do we give up?

Lip balm and sun screen and moisturizer- these are preventive, not vain. Wash your face at night with cleanser. Trim your toenails and file your other nails.

You don’t have to look like you’re going to tea with the Queen, but you should do your best to be clean and neat. If your children and spouse always look done, why should you be odd one out?

We can’t let young children be an excuse for stopping maintenance. We need to spend a little time on ourselves each day.

We matter.

We have to treat ourselves like we do.

We need to send a message to our families that we matter. That we are not just spouses, partners and parents, but we are unique individuals who deserve to take care of ourselves, even if it’s just taking ten minutes at night to wash up and put on lotion.

Why do Mothers think they need to be martyrs?

Why do Mothers think that everyone else and everything else comes before them?

Self care comes across as narcissistic. I get that it can get like that…

But self care is also just that: taking care of yourself so that you can be the best you possible…

We matter. Let’s make sure everyone knows that.

63 thoughts on “What’s the Lesson

  1. You’re correct, and as they get older the self-care has to extend outward to time away for oneself. Doesn’t have to be days or long hours blocked out, but some amount of time to connect with yourself and/or other adults.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. My daughter still has a hard time realizing I’m not just her mom. I remember going to soul cycle with her for a spin class (under 16 needed to be with a parent) and she was amazed that I could spin like everyone in the class…I looked at her like…really?

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  2. As a child-free adult who sees about a million articles on this topic I’d suggest that we all know that mommies need self-care time. Whether they take the time to do so is their choice based on circumstances and personal values, but there’s a whole industry dedicated to promoting this idea. That seems to involve mommies spending more money. Go figure. 🤨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah..I get that it’s all over…yet…woman don’t always take care of themselves when they have kids. And it shouldn’t be money…it should be a built in value. Women consistently undervalued themselves, especially moms. Motherhood is undervalued. Why do we let that happen?

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  3. Mothers have been consistently portrayed as martyrs (movies, tv, etc), sacrificing themselves to the benefit of their children. But does it really benefit the child? We need to be strong role models. And there are some who exemplify the martyr role, only to be passive-aggressive afterwards, which doesn’t send a very positive image either.

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  4. I remember when my kids were both little (maybe 7 and 3) they were horrified when I was sick and bedridden(only happened once). They told me since I was the Mom I couldn’t get sick. If I had taken care of myself at the beginning of feeling poorly it would have turned out to be much less. When kids are little there is so much to be done that you seem to pull up last. It is like when redoing your house it is usually the master bedroom that is last on the list. I always said it was because I was vain that I never left the house without make-up(even just mascara) and decent clothes, so that tells you something right there. It almost felt like a vice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the societal judging of women is a problem. Look at the standards on TV of what female stars look like compared to male. Becoming a mother adds so many more levels of judgement because now you’re being judged by your children and judged on your parenting. I think it’s funny that at 16 your daughter was surprised you could do a spin class. My daughters have repeatedly commented on how I have a better social life and do more interesting things than they do. And never seem surprised at my *athletic* endeavors. Maybe how fast I can walk for having such short legs because they’re both way taller than I am.

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    1. My daughter associates me with mom things…baking flower cookies for the school spring fest, putting together furniture, taking care of her when sick, organizing schedules. But she doesn’t think of me with cool things, or youthful things. And to be fair…I’m not really gazelle like when it comes to athletics

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  6. Bravo for saying what we all say we know…..but tend to forget. Yes, Mommyhood is hard and not for the faint of heart. The tendency is to devalue our own needs, especially in the area of health. It is important to show our daughters and sons we are strong and capable women who value our role. Many days we just don’t have the energy, and I do remember those days. But, we cannot forget that if we don’t take care of ourselves with nutrition, exercise and mental attitude, we help no one. Raising children is the most important job parents have. Mommies (especially stay-at-home mommies) need to treat it the same as if we are CEOs of a company. And society needs to do a better job of elevating motherhood to a higher rung on the career ladder. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On the flip side of this, you also were teaching your daughter that you don’t have to kill yourself when you don’t have the energy. It is okay to let the surface stuff go when you tried, but just don’t have the energy for more. This is especially an important lesson for anyone dealing with mental health issues. Sometimes, you just don’t have it in you, but you should not feel bad at all that you don’t have your “public” face on all the time. Mental self care can be just as important, if not more so, than physical self care. It is a lesson we often fail to teach our children and is part of why there are so many that are disdaining of mental health and depression. Yes, taking the time to care for yourself, especially when you have kids, is incredibly important, but a huge part of that is also caring for yourself mentally and the two do not always fit together.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes to all this! This is why Iḿ spending 1500 on my 50th birthday party. Itś not that I am vain (though my head tells me I am). Itś to show my kids and myself (and my hubby) that I matter. Iḿ not just the person who works and tries to squeeze in writing on the side while I shuttle the teens to what makes their soul sings. I am a person who is worthy of a few hours of attention and I can give my love back to those who attend. And what a smart kid you have! (as a four year old and now)

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  9. Great post LA. Thanks for telling it out loud. We need merchandise with that slogan everywhere. WE MATTER coffee mugs, tshirts, bracelets, bags and other grooming products. It should all look at us and say out loud that we do matter…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I enjoy how you realized you were still setting an example for your daughter. Sending and unfavorable message of Motherhood. I’ve managed to somehow own one pair of sweatpants and they are for lounging days only when I don’t leave the house. I enjoy getting dressed everyday, before donning the cape. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I wear t-shirts, but they’re the right size for me. They are part of my “home” wardrobe, not my “out-and-about” wardrobe. I rarely wear one when going shopping, meeting a friend, or anything else I do away from home. I rarely wear anything more than two full days before it goes into the laundry hamper to be washed. My hair is baby-fine stuff so it needs attention a few times each day and I give it that. Although I don’t wear makeup anymore, my face gets washed at least two times a day. I don’t understand women who can’t do these few things daily. Is it a case of them not liking themselves?

    One thing I’ve noticed lately is the sloppy use of clips in the hair. Do the women who do this think this is a good fashion statement? I understand about getting the hair away from the face using clips. However, what’s the deal with it looking slovenly?

    Liked by 1 person

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