A few months ago, I read how a friend of mine had overheard a disturbing conversation while at her daughter’s piano recital. A newly married woman asked the woman next to her if the transition from couple to parenthood was difficult. The “sage” went on and on about how dreadful motherhood was and that children drain your life of all energy, light, and cuteness. My friend heroically came to the defense of good mothers everywhere when she turned around and said that motherhood is exactly what you make of it.
As I read that, I thought about how sad it is that women believe those kinds of things about their families. But then, as I was thinking about it more, I felt even more sorry for the women like that poor newlywed, who had, up until that point, probably been looking forward to the idea of starting her own little family and being a mom just like us. It occurred to me that we might give the same false impression of motherhood to complete strangers without even opening our mouths.
I don’t know about you ladies, but I am why people think being a mom isn’t a glamorous job. You can tell I’m coming from a mile away by my black yoga pants, a t-shirt with booger stains, haphazard ponytail, and flip flops while running a quick errand. Chances are, that even if I did shower, I certainly didn’t put on any make-up. Who has the time for that sort of thing? Not a homeschooling mom of four! Besides, I’m not even leaving the house.
About a month ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to make people think (including myself), just by looking at me, that motherhood was anything other than the absolute best job in the world. I wanted to be an inspiration instead.
And it started with blow drying my hair one morning (Who am I kidding, it started months ago when I noticed that one of my good friends was always dressed up). Anyway, I was so amazed at how much better my hair looked, that I put on some make-up. All of a sudden, my “uniform” looked a LOT better! Then I got some hair clips, and when my hair would get in the way, I’d put it in a french twist (it’s JUST long enough for that). Then the next day, I squeezed into a pair of jeans. The following week I wore **gasp** a skirt!
And so, over the few weeks that followed, I had completely changed my “uniform” and my paradigm. I’d like to share a few things that I picked up along the way.
- First and foremost. There are some days when it just isn’t going to happen. If I wake up to a vomiting child, on come the yoga pants. And on deep cleaning day, all bets are off.
- For me, it’s easier to shower at night before bed. I wake up with crazy bed head, but I just wet it over the tub, blow dry it, and I’m ready to go. No trying to wake up early to shower or wondering IF I can shower or wondering which child is coloring on the stucco on the house exterior while I shower (by the way, anyone know how to get crayon off of stucco?)
- Along the same lines, on some days, showers are a luxury. If you don’t get a chance to shower, get dressed anyway in your everyday wear. No one else can tell that you aren’t squeaky clean, and you can slick your semi-greasy hair back into a sleek ponytail without using any hair product. 🙂 I like to keep a bottle of body spray around for just these occasions.
- Make-up – if you wear make-up, it doesn’t take much. You don’t need to do the whole song and dance of the mask you used to wear in your wild and crazy high school days. Slap on some blush, powder if you want, and mascara if you need it (like I do). Don’t mess with foundations or anything else liquid. They are too hard to work with, they take too much time, and your skin really rebels if you don’t wash it off at the end of the day.
- If you have a bad hair day every day for a week, try a new style. You don’t necessarily need to cut it or do anything drastic. For me, blow drying alone did the trick for a long time. Now that it’s longer, I just need to flip it a little at the bottom. Hardly takes any more time at all, but it makes a difference.
- Snot and spit-up stains are actually harder to see if you wear fancier clothing (aka, anything that can’t also pass as pajamas).
- Husbands might not notice exactly what it is that is different about you, but they will appreciate it…A LOT.
- Wear clothes that fit. Don’t look at the size. You will be more likely to break out of the yoga pants if your jeans don’t cut you in half every time you bend down. And shirts, in general, look much better if you can’t see rolls on the belly (please tell me I’m not the only one with rolls). There is no shame in having to wear a larger size if doing so makes you look fantastic!
- Flip flops look better with a skirt than with yoga pants or leggings.
- Except for maybe scrubbing the bathroom, anything you can do in “the uniform” can also be done while looking beautiful. I’ve cooked, cleaned, done homeschool, done household chores, done laundry, and grocery shopped in everything from a skirt to a house dress to pin-striped slacks. The only difference between that and the yoga pants is that I feel prettier.
- It’s a LOT easier to be a be supermom-ish (while keeping our priorities straight, of course) if we dress the part.
Now I have another confession. I am not one who has ever been able to sacrifice fashion for function. I know this isn’t always practical, but I like to have a beautiful home. I was finally able to realize that it is good enough for me if it is good enough for my house. My goal is to be an attentive, hardworking, educated, cheerful, Christ-centered, optimistic, well-rounded, from-scratch kind of mom. But I also want to be feminine and beautiful. So, the easiest way for me to make that happen without adding to my current wardrobe is to wear skirts.
Here are a few tips on skirts.
- They are easy to make. Take it from me. I had never successfully sewn anything on the sewing machine but a patchwork quilt in my life until last night, when I finished my first skirt (with nothing but another skirt to pattern it after. And it’s a beauty!
- The sizing is different (you will fit into a size six skirt long before a size six pair of pants).
- They are fantastic in the summer, much cooler than shorts.
- For me, an inch or two below the knee down to mid-calf is best. Long enough to be modest, short enough not to get in the way.
- I personally like the straight style skirts because they don’t go flying when the wind is blowing.
- Though I also like the A-line and flare styles because they twirl when I turn around and make me feel like a princess. And you are never too old to feel like a princess.
- I don’t wear them when it’s cold.
- Some fun leggings can make a great accessory and keep you warm.
- It IS possible to wear a skirt and still look frumpy instead of feminine. I try to avoid that at all costs. I save frumpy for days when the family is sick and for when I work-out.
- Stay away from a clingy fabric like jersey cotton. They are fun, beautiful, and comfortable, but I always have to pull it back down because of static (great science lesson though).
- Plain old 100% cotton is perfect, in my opinion.
- Experiment with colors and patterns to fit your personality and add variety.
- Denim can be excellent if you get the right cut and style.
- Denim can also be a nightmare (frumpy, not feminine).
- Be practical. We are moms. We bend over, crawl around, run, walk, scrub reach and a plethora of other acrobatics that other people wouldn’t dream of. I don’t wear anything that can, in any way, impede my work as a mother (like heels or anything tight). But you would be surprised to know what you can do in a skirt. Experiment with different looks and figure out what fits YOU.
- I already mentioned how flip flops look better with skirts. So do t-shirts.
- When you wear skirts nearly every day, the term “Sunday Best” takes on an entirely new meaning. You don’t need to have work dresses, a nap dress, house dresses, a summer dress, caftan, day dress, maxi dress, comfort dresses, or every other kind of dress out there for separate occasions. There is just whatever dress or skirt makes you feel comfy and beautiful.
It isn’t always easy to do, but I always feel better when I make an effort.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am NOT saying that we need to spend hours making ourselves beautiful so that we can gain acceptance, love, or praise from the outside world. Despite all of this, I seriously doubt I spend more than 20 minutes getting ready in the morning (and even that is all just a little here, a little there, whenever I have time).
I am reminded of a talk that Susan W. Tanner gave in the October 2005 General Conference when she said, “We would keep the outside of our bodily temples looking clean and beautiful to reflect the sacred and holy nature of what is inside, just as the Church does with its temples. We should dress and act in ways that reflect the sacred spirit inside us.”
I also don’t believe that we should spend a lot of time maintaining our appearance throughout the day. As Sister Tanner’s wise mother told her, “You must do everything you can to make your appearance pleasing, but the minute you walk out the door, forget yourself and start concentrating on others.”
Do simple things to make yourself beautiful. Then, “forget yourself and go to work.”
I feel like motherhood is the path through which all of my dreams are fulfilled. Being a wife and mother is the only way that I can manage to become the woman that I have always wanted to be. Without my family, I would turn into a selfish, power-hungry, and bitter woman. I know because when I neglect my duties for too long, that is precisely what happens to me.
Motherhood is truly a partnership with God. How many of us have said, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” or, “this is what I was meant to do,” or, “I wouldn’t want to do anything else”? If that is the case, we need to purposely separate ourselves from the mothers who think that children are life- and joy sucking parasites. We aren’t like them. We shouldn’t look like them.
“Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. we have enough popularity; we need more purity.” ~Margaret D. Nadald
Vanity is a sin, but treating your body like the temple and letting your outward appearance reflect the joy and purpose you feel are not.