Style Evolution

I just stumbled across this blog tutorial on how to do hair and make up and my first thought was, “This girl does not have kids.” It’s an adorable blog, with a lot of great tips, and I was memorized for hours a while, but who puts this kind of effort into their looks? Oh, women who are not mommies. And who have time. And who care about their appearance. Kind of like me, when I was 18.

I wish I could blame my lack of style and hair and makeup knowledge on being a busy mom and never having enough time, but that just wouldn’t be the truth.

The truth is, I lost my style long ago.

In high school, I was stylish. I was in the popular crowd, I knew what clothes were acceptable and what weren’t, and I even prided myself on never wearing the same outfit twice. I also spent hours doing my hair and make up, which involved a long routine of shower, blowdry, flat-iron, and curl. And of course, occasionally style up in some way, but only after completing the above process. My make up routine was equally involved with foundation, concealer (for what I don’t know…my 18 year old self would be appalled at my now nearly 30 skin) powder, blush, 3 different layers of eyeshadow, two different eyeliners, mascara, lip liner, lip gloss, and shimmery highlighting powder. Whoo, just writing that made me exhausted.

When I went to college, I discovered this horrible thing called the 8 am class. That meant I had to be up and ready to go by 7:15? Usually after staying up until wee hours the night before? That hair and make up routine got dropped pretty quickly. My college uniform quickly turned into jeans, a college t-shirt, a ponytail, mascara, and chapstick. I still knew how to get pretty for evening activities, but I never made any friends in classes. I was into sleep more than impressing co-eds.

After college graduation, I took my first job as a nanny. No need to dress up for a newborn, a 3-year-old , and a 5-year-old, right?

When I got my first teaching job, it was in a pre-school/day care environment where you could not wear jeans (oh no!) but you could wear scrubs or “professional sweat suits.” I don’t know what that means either. I took it to mean gray sweatpants, t-shirts and soaking wet hair ponytails, and got away with it. I am actually still terribly embarrassed that I went to work like that.

For many reasons, that job wasn’t a good fit, and I interviewed and got hired by a “real” school, a local public elementary school. There was a professional dress code here! You had to wear stuff like khakis and real shirts! (I also had things like a salary and benefits. I was a grown up!)  But I was still teaching Kindergarten. So my wardrobe became fitted with all things Old Navy and Target. Khakis and v-neck t-shirts people. Outfits of the stars. (Seriously. I think my class was the shining stars…or something like that.) I also upped my hair and make up routine by wearing my hair in a deep part, low side bun every day and actually wearing make up! But this time, the routine consisted of Bare Minerals foundation, mineral veil, eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss. So quick, so easy, and I looked so presentable every day! Amazing.

A year and a half  later, the stay at home mom gig started. I would go for DAYS without putting on a trace of make up. Or getting dressed. Or showering. Or touching my hair. Yes, my husband is a lucky, lucky man.  Fortunately, the baby didn’t care.

As I started to feel better and get back into the world, I realized that I honestly forgot how to do this. This body was different. This hair did not style the way it used to. This skin does not conceal! Seriously, having this baby changed EVERYTHING!

Slowly, I found my way back to the deep part low side bun ponytail. Bare Minerals saved my life. And I only had to invest a million dollars use a few resources to get back to a wardrobe I’m comfortable with. Which now involves jeans, v-neck t-shirts, and the occasional print blouse. I know, my style is so enviable.

I have also discovered that I need to keep my hair at a manageable length. Although I love my hair long and styled, long with a baby just meant daily ponytails. But too short also means daily styling, which just doesn’t work. So a medium length gives me the freedom for ponytails often, but also the capability for a down do every once in a while. I also learned to keep make up in the car. Parking lot mascara anyone? The toddler even knows to wait just a minute after we arrive at a destination so “Mommy put on make up and not look scary.” He’s a charmer.

So I am not the most put together mom, and even though the morning ritual of lets-fight-about-putting-on-socks-and-shoes definitely interferes with my make up time, having a toddler isn’t the only reason I’m not so put together. My style has just been a constant evolution. My adult life has been devoted to the caring of children; often in non-structured environments. And it’s just so hard to put forth the effort to get all done up when you just don’t have to. (And when you have little people yelling at you. Like right now. The toddler needs juice.)

I suppose it is something that will continue to evolve and change as my life does. But it kind of also looks like I just might not be as girly as I used to think I was. A style evolution and a personal revelation; who saw that coming?

So, my friends, do you have any style advice for me? As long as I can still do the pre-school drop off by sitting in my car with no bra and sweat pants, I would love to take you up on suggestions. 🙂

Advertisements

Reflection and an Anniversary

Today, I am thrilled to link up with two fabulous bloggers, Alison of Mama Wants This and Ado from The Momalog as they both celebrate their one year blogging anniversaries. Not only is this an important milestone for them, but they are also celebrating by giving fabulous prizes away to…you! I had no idea that blog anniversaries were such fancy occasions, but I am so excited to be a part of it!

Anyone can participate; the idea is to link up your favorite post. It’s a great way to meet other bloggers, read eloquent writing, and maybe win some fantastic prizes.

The post I am including can be found in its original form here.

(I also copy and pasted below, if you want to skip the click-through step.)

This post is not the most uplifting or lyrical that I have ever written, but it is one of my favorites. I wrote it late at night on a memo on my phone, when the words came pouring out of me and had to escape somewhere. It was the first time I was brave enough to write about my intimate thoughts after having my baby. It was the first time that I realized my words had power. And it was this memo, that sat in my phone for months, that nagged at me to start a blog in the first place.

I had words to say, and intimate thoughts that needed to be shared. This piece of writing allowed me to start to use my voice to once again find pieces of myself I thought I lost after having the baby. It is written from a dark place in my life, when I felt overwhelmed by motherhood and baby and not at all at peace with the dramatic changes pregnancy and breastfeeding had imposed upon my body. But these words made me feel for the first time in a long time, that my story had significance.

So in honor of these wonderful blog anniversaries, please enjoy a glimpse into one of my most intimate moments of discovering myself in my reflection.

Reflection 

My bathroom mirror was a thick fog of steam created by the shower I like to run almost scalding, so that it nearly burns as I stand under the flowing current that strips my skin of the days’ events. As I pulled back my shower curtain to reach for my white towel, a reflection of someone caught my eye in the mirror. It was someone I recognized mostly, but things had changed without my noticing. As I stared now, I watched water droplets drip from my breasts, which sit much lower than they used to. My nipples have darkened and there are stretch marks dirtying the cool white porcelain of skin that covers what used to be one of my favorite body features. Now they have become nothing more than a food source for the baby. While I pride myself on breastfeeding, I also grieve my breasts that I now no longer admire unless they are kept in an expensive bra that gives them the illusion of elasticity.

My eyes traveled down to my stomach, which used to be flat and jeweled with a belly button piercing, but is now like a map of squiggly lines leading to nowhere and a scar of a decoration of youth. I lifted my “baby pouch” with both hands and tried to remember my pre-baby body. Maybe I’ll get a tummy tuck one day, I thought. But a quick glance at my c-section scar reminds me of all the pain, and I winced at the thought of undergoing surgery ever again, for any reason.

As the steam lifted, I noticed circles under my eyes that I’m quite sure weren’t there a few years ago, and some stray eyebrow hairs. I’ve given up pedicures and waxes, and now resort to plucking when I get the time, but I’m surprised at how out of control my brows look. I guess I need to check the mirror more often, I think as I lift the tweezers for the first time in weeks.

At least I’m saving money this way. Not looking in mirrors allows you to forget that you have run out of concealer for the dark circles or chapstick for the chapped lips. It allows you the freedom to not care what you look like and not spend money on make up.

But I can not help but to feel trapped into a surprise when I can’t stop this mirror from reflecting.

Lost Pieces

It’s funny how it’s two and a half years later and I’m still trying to pick up pieces of myself.

I lost so many of the pieces of who I thought I was over these years. So many pieces that I thought completed the puzzle of who I am. But life is nothing if not a constant exercise in change. And so I change. I adapt. I loose pieces. I find others. I try to string together a complete image of this woman who stares at me in the mirror.

Today I found some old pieces. Pieces I thought were lost long ago like old toys hidden under the couch or receded into cracks in floor boards. Pieces that brought tears to my eyes because I remember them. It was like reuniting with an old friend.

Today I dropped my little boy off at school. When he first started school this fall, I didn’t know how to be apart from him. I waited in the parking lot for him to come home.

Since then, I have progressed. I have used my time to run errands, and tackle the grocery store and mopping. I have sat and people watched while sipping a latte. I have talked on the phone to my best friend. I have worked out. I have blogged.

But this morning, I found some parts of what used to make me. I listened to the soundtrack of Wicked The Broadway Musical. And I sang along and smiled and remembered why that used to be such a big passion of mine. I felt inspired. I found myself at the mall. I entered a grown up store with grown up clothes that would fit my now grown up figure and did not have a trace of children’s paraphernalia. I tried on shirt from the clearance rack and let my hands drape over the luxurious fabric of items that have no place in my daily life of dirt and ketchup. I tried on two shirts that actually flattered me and I smiled because I remembered that I used to look beautiful and turn heads. My now go-to outfit of yoga pants and t-shirts doesn’t do that. I splurged on a shirt that made me feel beautiful. And I cringed at the register, because I don’t remember the last time I spent so much money on myself.

And as I blared the Wicked soundtrack again on my way home, I let tears fall and thoughts form and rushed inside to find a home for them here.

My life is so different than it used to be. My reflection always surprises me when a mirror suddenly appears in my view. But there are pieces of me that are still the same. It was so nice to find some of them this morning and reawaken beauty and inspiration and indulgence within my world that has become devoted to my child’s innocence.

It was nice to find some lost pieces.