It started with yoga pants.
Let the record show that I have done about as much yoga as…well, I’ve done very little yoga. I put the pants on, I bought the DVD, I even have the stupid mat in my trunk, just in case a Flash Yoga Mob pops up- but I don’t do nearly as much yoga as my daily wardrobe used to suggest.
During pregnancy, comfort is of the utmost importance. Growing a person is hard work and uncomfortable pants could have justified any one of many irrational crimes. Like many of my fellow moms, after giving birth and jumping right on the new parent hamster wheel, I found solace and comfort in pajama based apparel. It makes sense. I napped for 20-45 minutes at a time over each 24 hour period, I was peed on, spit up on and spilling coffee on myself was the closest thing I found to a hot shower. Over a period of one year, I had transitioned away from being a woman and into being solely a mother.
I don’t say this to complain or suggest that any of this was bad or wrong, it was just what happened. The problem became, and I only can speak about my own experience, that I had misplaced the sparkle and shine that made me a woman and I didn’t even realize it. A few years in, and a couple of kids later, I no longer knew how do define myself outside of “Mommy”, and the truth was that I didn’t care to either. I found my worth and beauty in being a mom, or at least I did until I didn’t anymore.
The details about what changed is not really the point of this story, though. That is another draft of another post for another time. What I want to share with you here is that one day I realized that I no longer recognized myself beyond my role as mom. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and stopped. Who was this woman? She looked tired… defeated… lost, and in that moment that I decided to find her. Find me. But where was I?
I want to tell you that I found myself. And do you know where I was? The bathroom! The one room in my house that had a working lock. It is where I go to when I need a moment to myself, to check Facebook, to talk on the phone and sometimes to cry. I looked in the mirror and took a long, hard look at my face. I started to pick at the details, the things I thought were less than and wrong with me. “How do I still have acne,” I asked, popping a zit on chin. “I should try Botox for these lines,” I suggested as I crinkled my nose. And so on. But the next thing I heard was a different voice, a voice that said, “You have really cool eyes. Look at them.” I leaned into the mirror and took a closer look. My eyes ARE pretty cool. They are hazel with a bunch of different specks of color dancing throughout and there is a shade of blue that I cannot describe that outlines my iris. My eyes are almond shaped and the perfect size for my face. I have nice eyelashes. My eyes are beautiful. But then, I started to see the flaws. My eyelids are too red, I need concealer. One eye is droops too much.
“STOP! JUST BE BEAUTIFUL!” The voice was yelling at me, begging me to stop. “Just look at your eyes. No one else in the world has them. Just you. And every part of them- including the parts you can’t see as beautiful- are you and they are to be treasured.”
I left the bathroom and that night, I thought about what had happened. If I spent a few minutes in the bathroom each day looking at my face, could I unearth my beauty and reclaim myself as not just MOM, but also as WOMAN? I figured I could at least try.
At first, it was difficult. I needed something to keep me focused so I experimented with makeup. The process of applying cosmetic products- lotions, masks, liners, powders, etc… gave me an activity to focus on and opened me up to seeing me in each of my parts. For five minutes each day, I looked in the mirror. I tried on new smiles, played with lipstick, attempted a “smoky eye”. Sometimes, I put on a clay mask and ran around the house yelling, “I’m a MOMster!” Most times, I washed my face at the end and just touched my skin while applying moisturizer. Felt the softness, fell in love with my lines. Over time, I learned that I like wearing makeup, that I can love and respect my red eyelids and still wear concealer and that I love the way my eyes look when I use grey eyeliner (thank you to the one who suggested that, you know who you are). I found out that when I smile or really laugh, the lines around my eyes dance for joy. Those lines that I thought about filling only show up to celebrate and they serve as a history of my happiness. Suddenly, my 5 minutes became 30. I took time to shower, to do my hair in a way that pleased me and only me, to put on jeans that made my butt look good. And I started to feel happy. I felt beautiful.
I will tell you the truth and say that I don’t make time to do this every day. I don’t feel beautiful or happy or enough or like a woman every day either. There are many days I still put on my yoga pants and don’t do yoga. And I tell you this, because I know that I am not alone. I know that there are many of us who walk through our days as “Mom” and don’t see our own beauty. I tell you this because I see how beautiful you are and when you are ready, the mirror is there waiting for you to reclaim it for yourself. And I promise you that for me now, especially on the days that I spend 5 minutes in the mirror, I walk through the day knowing that I AM BEAUTIFUL.