The other day I posted a picture of my feet strapped into a pair of new Target sandals. These cute little gladiator spin-offs with a wraparound ankle strap were the first non-athletic shoe purchase I’ve made postpartum. And by postpartum, I mean I’m already one whole year into motherhood the second time around. (Is that even considered postpartum? Because I still feel like I just had a baby).
My Target sandals are cute, cheap, and comfortable, a purchase home run into the stands of mom land. So, of course, I was excited to share pictures of them with my five Instagram followers.
Within minutes of posting, I got a text message from my best friend: “GET A PEDICURE ASAP” it read. When I looked back at the picture, I saw how right she was. My right toenail was practically curling over like a witches’ talon it was so long, and my left was sporting a sexy jagged edge that looked like it could cut a person. In a world of glossy nail art and all the hashtags, my unpolished, unbuffed nails just didn’t belong. I couldn’t (and still can’t) remember the last time I sat uninterrupted in a vibrating chair at the nail salon. This got me thinking about how much my beauty regimen has changed since having not one, but two, human beings to take care of.
Remember when regular haircuts and highlights were a thing? There was an actual time in the history of my existence as an adult person with a bank account where I observed the “every six weeks” for a haircut rule. I laugh thinking about that now.
With my first kid, it was months before I thought to address my skunk stripe. I remember finding some woman in my local mom’s Facebook group to come highlight my hair at home so I could continue nursing my 10-week-old, who refused the bottle, on-demand.
This was a disaster. My baby screamed the entire time, the poor stylist got hair bleach on her black pants because I tried to nurse my squirming daughter under the cape, and half my hair turned out white — not blonde. We’re talking white like a snow leopard white. This debacle forced me to book an expensive and even more time-consuming corrective procedure, months later, because I hadn’t found a babysitter I trusted right when it happened.
So when baby No. 2 came along, I was two years into the best thing ever to happen to mom life: ombre. Easy, low maintenance, the perfect style for my budget and new lifestyle. Is the ombre trend over? I’m not sure I care. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it — even if fashion tells you otherwise.
But when I started losing fistfuls of hair three months after the birth of my son, sporting near bald spots at my temples and scraggly strands that make the Fraggles of Fraggle Rock look like hair models, I was forced to chop the locks. Forced. The thought of sitting under bad lighting with a bunch of outdated magazines when there were kitchens to clean, kids to kiss, and books to write did not sound appealing.
When I finally did it, cut my hair shorter than it’s ever been and updated my ombre, I did feel better, but not better enough to come back for round two any time soon. I’m a twice a year kind of girl these days. And now that I rarely blow dry, flat iron, or curl my hair because I never leave this prison I call my home (kidding!), I actually think things have balanced out. My hair is healthier, and my pocketbook is too.
I got waxed in various places every month before I became a mother. After my daughter was born, I tangled with the torture a few times a year.
By now, I’ve given up on the illusion that I’m part of the hairless cat family. And that at home laser I dropped entirely too much on? I’ve used it once. It just takes too freaking long. I’d rather spend the extra time doing something I enjoy in those rare quiet mom moments instead of having hot wax slathered on places I probably shouldn’t show anyone but my husband. Lucky for all of you, I won’t be posting any close-ups of my bikini area any time soon or probably ever.
As discussed above, I just don’t have the time. I mean, you make time for the things you care about, so maybe I just don’t care. As much I’d love to have charms dangling from my nails like a Kardashian, they’d last for all of five minutes. I’d probably lose one in my toddler’s smoothie (where I hide all the green things), or I’d snap them all off in anger one morning because long nails and kid sweater buttons are like environmentalists at a Trump convention: frustrated and out of place.
For now, I’ll settle on polish-less short nails that look healthy-ish because I’m not shellacking them with toxic paint. Or at least that’s what I’ll tell myself when my best friend comes over with her newly applied spring pedicure and I dream about how nice it would be to spend 45 minutes being doted on by my neighborhood nail ladies. Okay, maybe I kind of care.
I love it. I will always love it. What else can I thank for making me look half alive for the family photos I took two weeks after my son was born? Or for reuniting me with the wild hot-pink-lipstick-wearing single girl from my youth? While my habits have changed — I’m more a mascara and tinted chapstick kind of person on the everyday — I still love the way makeup can make me feel beautiful and glamorous. It’s just that now I’m a lot more comfortable leaving the house without it. That’s probably the greatest unconventional gift my children have given me: I’m 50% less vain and 100% happier because of it.
Motherhood has drastically changed my beauty budget, my grooming habits (whole weeks will go by without so much as a lick of deodorant gracing my armpits, but that’s a whole different story), and the level of time and energy I spend on my looks. But I still do like to get pretty. Hopefully my red-lipstick-just-because days, for example, are teaching my daughter and my son that it’s okay to want to feel beautiful, to have fun with your appearance, to get creative with your look. But it’s okay to skip the salon too, let those roots grow dark, and those nails grow natural. When beauty is taking time away from the things you love, it’s not worth it.