I Miss Caring About My Appearance

We took our baby to the pool over Labor Day weekend, and were only there for about an hour. Before we left, I found myself trying to memorize every last thing about our 10-month-old in the pool: the way she kicks out all her limbs like a starfish when she's excited, the scrunchy face she makes after she splashes herself, and— my favorite— how she loved going down the swirling slide with me. I was having so much fun that I'd totally forgotten I hadn't washed my hair in three days.

When we packed up to leave, I put on my college sorority tank top, wrapped a towel around my waist, and hoisted my husband's swim backpack onto my back. That was about the time I noticed the cute sandals another girl was wearing. I looked down at the nine-year-old Crocs I'd just slid my feet into. This is who I am now, I thought. I'm a Crocs mom with gross hair.

Sometimes I miss caring about my appearance. I miss the days when I didn't dress out of convenience and shopped for cute clothes I didn't need. Those were the days I had time to do my hair and makeup in the same morning. I'm not talking about a few swipes of mascara and air-dried hair, which is now the new normal. I'm reminiscing about the days when I wore my favorite foundation and blush along with eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara— but only after curling my lashes, and before drying my hair completely.

Beauty is fleeting, and my beauty should not— and does not— come from outward adornment. These things I know. When I became a mother and my minutes became more precious, I pruned away the least important things such as most of my makeup and— at times— my hairbrush in order to allow extra time for our new addition. It was freeing in many ways. Occasionally, however, I miss the old me. The one who was put together. The one who wasn't so willing to look like a hot mess in public.

Back when my daughter was a newborn, I was sad when I realized I'd become the owner of the typical new mom bags under my eyes. My hair was also beginning to fall out— and not just the hair on my head, which I expected to a point. My eyelashes and eyebrows had also begun to thin as well. It took a while for me to understand that my appearance, which had faded temporarily, wasn't the best part of me. Actually, it was far from the most important thing. My inner self and my spirit mattered most.

I decided I wouldn't look in the mirror and feel disheartened by my reflection. Instead, I'd look at our daughter— our tiny little gift— and know that even if my beauty dulled forever, I had a brand new sweetheart to show for it. Someone who is half of me, yet has my whole heart.

Life doesn't slow down with a kid, and all moms know that change is the only constant we can embrace. As my girl grows and her schedule shifts to take up more of our days, I'll be right beside her, if not chasing behind her, in my Crocs— probably with little makeup on too— remembering the important things in life and doing my best to teach her accordingly.

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