It’s taken me four months to get to this pedicure. Four months since I gave birth, looked down at my papery dry toes with the badly trimmed nails (also known as Third Trimester Toenails) and thought “Pedicure. But first, let’s go feed the baby and do other life sustaining activities.”
Those activities continued for months, to the exclusion of everything else. Especially personal grooming. I was brushing my teeth an average of 1.5 times a day. I actually plain forgot to wash up, every alternate morning. The only time in the entire first month that I put makeup on was when we had our welcome party for Michael, three weeks in, and it was a rush job. Whenever we had to step out of the house, it felt like an emergency evacuation, where I had one minute now now now to throw on the only button-down dress I had, figure out what the heck should go into the diaper bag, pack up said diaper bag, and rush back to my yelling baby, so that I could rush out of the house in a flurry of perspiration and disheveled hair.
I was a mess. Mysteriously, I just couldn’t summon the willpower to do anything that wasn’t essential to my survival, even when I actually had the time, and still had effective use of my arms and legs and fingers. It was as if my brain was in some bizarre extended panic mode that paralyzed my limbs and rationalized that I obviously could not take half a minute to moisturize my face at the end of the day. It was like, a mathematical impossibility. I couldn’t spend fifteen seconds to pick out a pretty outfit, because thinking about something like that would make my brain combust. I couldn’t blow dry my hair, or braid it. I couldn’t wax. I don’t think I intentionally looked at myself in the mirror the entire first month, which was probably a good thing.
I wore pyjamas all day long.
Even after things settled down somewhat and my brain apparently went back to normal, I was still very much struggling to look put together. I still am. All those days of not looking after myself have done some damage, and I often I look as tired and old as I sometimes feel. It’s as if I derailed, after the physical devastation of childbirth, sleep deprivation, emotional upheaval and everything else, and I’m trying to haul myself back on the tracks again, wheel by wheel. Haircut, thunk. Pedicure, thunk. Skincare regime, thunk.
Now that my helper Lyn is here, I have no excuse. It’s important to me, to Ralph, and I think eventually to my kids, that I look as fresh and pretty as possible. It’s been one of many humbling revelations that I am absolutely one of “those moms” – in this case, the mom in danger of no longer caring about how she looks, after the kids arrive. It’s not really important, and it’s also really important. It’s the quickest shortcut to reminding myself that I am not my job. I may be covered in drool these days, and the occasional spit-up, but it doesn’t mean that I’m an old rag. I’m a mother, a wife, a person. By any definition, I’m someone who should have her toenails cleanly trimmed and painted a cheerful shade of pink.