I may not always find time to shower, and I may never wear those 4-inch heels stashed in a box at the back of my closet again, but I sure as heck can find time to put on a swipe of lipstick every day.
I work from home as a freelance writer while taking care of my two young kids (a 2½-year-old son and a 10-month-old daughter). There are many days when my husband is the only other adult I see in person, and if it weren’t for my dog, there are some days, especially in the winter, I might not even make it outside. But still I persist.
First and foremost, lipstick and other makeup makes me look better. And when I look better, I feel better about myself, plain and simple. It also makes me more attractive for my husband, who yes, would still love me without it. But a little effort never hurt. (Hey, I expect him to shave regularly.)
Lipstick reminds me of the years before I had kids (less than three, but sometimes it feels like a lifetime). Back then I had time to get weekly blowouts, monthly pedicures, and my roots touched up every six weeks. Now, I haven’t had a manicure in the calendar year, and my blowout budget goes toward diapers and childcare. But I can still put on a swipe of lipstick.
Trading summer’s coral-hued tinted lip balms for fall’s berry-colored mattes makes me feel like I’m still part of the world at large, or am at least aware of the season, even as my handbag falls hopelessly out of style and trend after trend passes me by. But I can still put on lipstick.
As moms, we know the drill—we put everyone’s needs before our own. We get our kids dressed, feed them breakfast, and pack their lunches before we have so much as a sip of coffee. For our holiday card, we pick the family photo that the kids are smiling in even if our own eyes are half-closed. We give them the last bite of our ice cream even though we really, really wanted it.
Putting on lipstick is something I do for myself. Taking the cap off the tube, twisting the bullet up, tracing my lips with the color, and the quick smack I do to make sure it’s evenly applied is a little ritual that takes only seconds; yet it gives me confidence and the strength I need to clean up the fourth water spill of the morning or change the umpteenth diaper of the day.
You may think I’m vain. I counter that a little vanity is good for a person. I put on sunscreen daily. Why? Because it prevents skin cancer—and wrinkles and brown spots and almost any dermatologist will tell you it’s the next best thing to the fountain of youth. I watch what I eat and try to squeeze in some exercise (even if that’s a dance party with my kids). Sure, it means I’m lowering my risk for any number of diseases, but it also helps ensure I’ll fit back into those pre-pregnancy clothes sooner rather than later.
And as for lipstick? It reminds me of the person I once was and the new and improved person I aspire to be once these spit-up, diaper-changing years are behind me. It’s sanity in a tube.